The Emergent Moment

From a friend of mine, to many more friends. To those of you who I haven’t been in face to face conversation with here in Bend or elsewhere, I will proudly claim friendship with the folks at Emergent Village and the emerging church:

From Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village:

Is this the “Emergent Moment”? Is this this tipping point, the time for us to really have an impact on the future of the church? It sure seems so. The interest continues to build, and the pressures continue to mount. The cries of “Heresy!” continue to come from one side of us, as we push into some new theological territory. From the other side we hear, “It’s inevitable: you’ll become an institution just like us.”

I, for one, don’t think we’re heretics. Instead, I think that we’re actually being faithful to our theological forbears by doing what they did: aggressively theologizing about the issues that face the contemporary church.

And, on the other hand, I don’t think we’re bound toward institutionalization. We in Emergent Village continue to be a relational network — not a bureaucracy, not a top-down organization, and definitely not a denomination. Instead, we’re a group of friends. We come from diverse theological (and, increasingly, ethnic) backgrounds. We value one another deeply. We’re committed to being friends.

For the rest of Tony’s blog entry visit Emergent Village.

13 thoughts on “The Emergent Moment

  1. Be careful what you theologize… That’s not even a real word! Haha…

    There are some great points to the current movement, it also has some glaring weaknesses, as does any movement. I would caution you to investigate the cries of heresy rather than dismiss them. We have to be careful not to sell out the gospel to “hang out.” Remember the word orthodox means right teaching or doctrine.

    The emerging movement has an opportunity to return the church to being the Church, but will doom souls if it changes the teachings of the gospel.


  2. Andrew, thanks for the feedback… I have some questions though. What do you mean my “gospel?” What is the “gospel?” And is that the gospel according to Jesus, Paul, or western Christianity?

    We also have to ask ourselves, in regards to “right” teaching… right according to whom?

    I am also not ready to say that any movement can do the “dooming.” I wonder what you mean by that… to me it’s kind of like saying that Christianity needs to be saved by us from, say, other religions, false teachers, etc… I would think that the Holy Spirit, God God’s-self would play the biggest role in saving a religion or “souls.”


  3. The good news is that though we are sinners and could never be declared righteous on our own, God loved us, came as a man and died for us. He rose from the dead, conquering death so that we don’t have to spend eternity apart from Him.

    If we tell someone about Christ in any way other than the truth, they place their hope in a lie. If we tell them the kingdom of God is about social activism and not about living for eternity (beginning now) this is a different gospel. For what good are our works apart from God? Is this not a works-based salvation? This is what the Catholic Church has presented as salvation. They teach you have to be a member and participate to be saved!

    The evangelical movement has sold this from the other side and hurt the Church in America with its message of hellfire and brimstone and free fire insurance.

    I am very cautious of those such as Brian McLaren who have said that people can be practicing Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus and be Christians as well. These are religions of darkness and what fellowship does light have with darkness?

    Right teaching is according to the Bible. I think it was pretty clear that the early Church would not allow people to continue worshiping idols so why would we freely allow and even encourage Christians to worship Buddha?

    2 Timothy 3 & 4 actually talks a lot about what I meant when I said “dooming.” It talks about people led away to teaching that suits their fancy, no longer listening to sound doctrine. It has been happening since the birth of the Church, but I want no part in it.

    Just some things to ponder. I’m not looking to condemn, but rather to encourage in the right direction! I want Christians to be on the same page when it comes to the gospel because it is so important! The health of the Church and the salvation of many depend on who we tell them Jesus is and what we tell them they have to do for salvation.

    Remember what Paul said in Galatians 1:
    6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

    Keep searching and conversing! I’ll be doing the same!


  4. Andrew,
    Interesting indeed… interesting that that guy can spend so many words critiquing something that he has only read the table of contents of. His entire critique was to take what someone who is already against Brian (slanted from the get go) to the next level.

    I don’t want to sound like I am closed to critique because i really do want to hear both sides… but I don’t feel like Jerry is in a position to critique the book. I am actually reading the book, I had breakfast with Brian last Saturday, and I know for certain that the responses to him there are not really fair.

    Keep sending me links, for sure… I love to respond. But perhaps take a look at Brian’s book. Many are saying that it is his most important book and maybe one of the most important books written in the last 50 years.


  5. I would like to read Brian’s book among a long list (that keeps growing) of other books. Maybe it’ll make it to the bargain bin by the time I get to it. :)~

    I would love to hear where you stand on theological issues as someone involved in this emerging/emergent movement. I actually just wrote a mini-post on the topic, as I am very intrigued by it. I know there are a wide range of theological ideas being expressed out of this movement.



  6. Andrew and Nate,
    I have enjoyed your conversation and wanted to add a new perspective. The first declaration of Jesus was that the Kingdom of God is here, now on earth for all to participate in. Later he died for our sins, resurrected, ascended and sent the comforter. The “modern” church has seemed to focus primarily on the process of saving souls for a future heaven. Jesus in his life and teachings spent most of his three year ministry telling and showing us how to be the humans God created us to be, not the false people we have come to be in our lives.

    I ask you, what if:
    – We strived to live out the sermon on the mount in our lives every day
    – we really tried to understand the many parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of God and lived them out in our daily lives
    – we believed that the Kingdom of God is to be on Earth NOW as it is in Heaven, as we pray in the Lord’s prayer
    – that God came to earth in the form of a human child, Jesus, not ONLY to save us, but ALSO to give us an example of how it is humanly possible to live.

    If the above is even partially what the incarnation is all about, should’t we give it at least as much attention and reverence and striving in our churches as the doctrine of penal substitionary attonement?

    It is not an either-or but a both-and process we are engaged in, in the emerging dialog…



  7. Bob,
    I’m with you on that. We do tend to emphasize far more the eternal and ignore the present. I am striving to live in the present as Christ called, with eyes on eternity. I just find issue with some of the emerging/emergent conversation because I feel it leans too far toward social activism. In the end what does it matter if the whole world has food and peace if they don’t have the Savior?

    The penal substitution is not only what saves us, but it is what allows us, through the Holy Spirit, to live as Christ calls us to live. There must be a sense of balance to the emergent/emerging conversation that does not exchange Christ’s sacrifice for just a good example or make Christ just a martyr.


  8. Andrew,
    Perhaps in some of the emerging circles there is a simplification of Christ’s message into social activism, just like there is this tendency with some mainline and there is a tendency in evangelicalism to make the Jesus relationship an individual experience and getting the information right. We all have areas we go wrong. I guess this is why we have these conversations… to keep us on track. Some people resort to skepticism first in regards to the emerging church. Should I jump to skepticism first with all other expressions of faith?

    I would turn the question around… are we ever going to bring a positive message of Christ to the world if we neglect the food and peace?

    In regards to the penal substitution… Jesus was saving people and forgiving their sins before he ever died and resurrected. And he didn’t tell them that the reason why he could do this was because he was going to die and pay the price for all their sins. PS is only one of many scripturally supported views on what Jesus did on the cross. I don’t know that it is the only way to look at Jesus’ good news.


  9. Andrew,

    In reponse to your question about “what if the world has food and peace but not the savior?”.
    The modern church has spent decades if not centuries trying to scare the world into believing in Jesus (ie believe or go to hell when you die). But we have not reached even half the current world and seem to be losing ground in the western world today. A large segment of the current young generatons are just tuning out the message of the church as irrelevant. Just increasing the volume will not help.

    As communications technology has advanced, if the current message was all that was needed we should expect this to be a time of increasing faith not decreasing.

    What if we tried to love and care for and accept the rest of the people of the world toward Jesus in ways that they can hear about and actually experience the love, acceptance, grace and community of spirit first as they grow in their knowledge of doctrine and details of the faith later. We need both types of evangelism today not one or the other.

    This will force us to be in the world even more, to get dirty, to go to the lepers of our current world, even if they are secular humanists, druids, athiests, universalists, and even fundamentalist Christians. We have to listen to them before we earn the right to talk to them, be humble with them, experience life together with them, and then they might be willing to listen to the old stories told in new ways.

    It is clear to me and many others in this new movement that this is a spirit driven change in what we are to be as Christians and how we are to interact with the world… It is exciting!!



  10. Nate & Bob,
    Great responses guys! I am not trying to only be a skeptic, but the tendency should always be to question something new. If this something new is a return to orthodoxy as you seem to say, then we are on the right track! I am learning more and more the ways the evangelical church has gone wrong, and I must say I’m as guilty as anyone.

    Bob- I do think pointing to this young generation turning away from the Church is a result of more than just not seeing the love of Christ. That is a contributing factor, but I think we are seeing what Paul warned about in 2 Timothy 4 when he said that people would not put up with sound doctrine and would go somewhere to have their “ears tickled” (or just leave the church altogether). That is why churches such as Lakewood are drawing such huge numbers of the un-churched.

    The emerging/emergent movements must be careful to keep its focus on showing the love of Christ without playing the numbers game. I think that is the biggest mistake churches can make.

    Thanks for the insight!



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