Friday, July 06, 2007
You might have noticed that I stuck a "friend of Emergent" banner on my blog. So thought I'd share a bit of what it means to be an emergent Christian. Here are:
Some sure signs that you are an Emergent Christian
1) You don't agree with everything Emergents believe or say.
One of the hallmarks of being emergent is to challenge ourselves and others to be more faithful to the Gospel. That's why they talk of a "conversation" instead of a statement of faith or creed. So if you think the emergent church is sometimes too relativistic, or does not focus enough on the Gospel, or is not being biblical, then you are being very emergent in disagreeing. If you just bought the whole party line, you would not really be emergent.
2) You could care less if you are Emergent
You don't have a special postmodern groovy service at your church, you are not trying to "relate to people today", you didn't just grow that goatee. You may agree with some of the values of the emergent church like caring about social justice, finding ways to communicate the Gospel in relevant ways today, daring to ask tough questions of faith, or being more concerned about being loving than about being "right", but you were concerned about these things way before anyone was even talking about being emergent.
3) Your focus is on being faithful to Christ, not on relating to the world.
It is not so much about what exactly you are as what you are not. It is post-secular, post-scientism, post-colonial, post-churchianity, post-fundamentalist, post-red/blue state, post-dogmatic. In other words it recognizes the limits of all of these and tries to go beyond them. So for instance, emergents think that theology can only really be right if it produces the fruit of people who are like Jesus. If we have all the right doctrine, but have not love, then we are just a clashing cymbal.
4) You're not theologically liberal (in a Marcus Borg kinda way).
Liberalism is the child of modernism, so being post-modern also makes Emergents post-liberal. Liberalism gets way too stuck in science. Emergents are much more open to awe, mystery, love, and all sorts of things that you can't dissect and control. Of course Emergents would have a lot to critique about conservatism too, and of course find good things in both.
5) You're not relativist (in a "there are no absolutes" kinda way).
Saying there are no absolutes makes truth individualistic. Emergent is communally focused. So we may be related to our bigger world and shaped by it, and we may be limited and unable to know absolutely. But this is a statement of humility rather than certainty. God is absolute, we are relative. So the way we "know" truth is relationally, through trust and humble dependency on God.
6) You're not universalist (in an "I'm ok you're ok" kinda way).
I'm sure we all hope that God will be able to save everyone, but that is quite different from saying that there is no radical evil and brokenness in us and our world. Emergents may also think that Jesus is a lot bigger than the little church boxes we try to squeeze him into and that people might be able to find Jesus without knowing his name. But this again is very different from saying "do/believe whatever you want".
So if you don't agree with everything Emergents believe or say, aren't sure you even want to be Emergent because you really care about focusing on Jesus, and are not a relativist, liberal, or a universalist. Then maybe you might be an emergent. Confused? Good. That's part of it too.
Anything you would want to add to the list?