Thursday, July 22, 2004

concerns for the emerging church:  a new theology
After participating in an emerging church conversation so focused on ecclesiology, chris monroe calls the emerging church back to theology.  He hits a number of critical balancing notes.  A couple are:

- The error of emphasizing image over substance

While we've also talked about evangelicalism's addiction to the proposition, there is simply no question that one can go imbalanced in the opposite direction.   But there's more than simply a balance question here.  I'd like to suggest that we need not only to pay attention again to theology but we also need to approach theology differently than many have in the past

Example:  Sometime last year after 12 years of being married my beautiful wife expressed to me a degree of dissatisfaction with the quality of our marriage.  In a nutshell, I simply wasn't choosing enough to be with her as opposed to working, or ministry, or writing, or blogging or emailing - you get the point.  So last year I started seriously working on this.  The most important decision I made was that if she was available, I was with her.  In short, I feel that I basically started looking at her more with all my focus, mind and heart.  A wonderful thing happened and is happening.  Simply because I began looking at Beth more, the quality of our marriage improved and, to my surprise, I fell more deeply in love with her than I ever had been.  It reminds me of Scott Peck's observation somewhere in The Road Less Traveled that romantic love is nature's way of tricking us into getting married so that after the flower of infatuation has faded, we then have the opportunity to earn love and romance returns. 

I think that loving God may be like that.  In fact, I've told my friends that my rebooted romance with Bethany is the leading edge of some change that God is working in my heart.  Quite simply, I need to look at God more, to be with Him more, to focus my heart and mind on Him more.  This, I believe, is a ground of theology.  Without these, theology is only empty propositionalism. 

- an addiction to the nouveau

This, actually, is a characteristic of modernity that's somehow survived in postmodernity:  It's new so it must be better!  Under this section Chris also talks about the ec antipathy to any degree of institutionalization.  Institutionalization is a word that simply represents efficient procedure established over time in missional community (I'm not using "mission" here in the lately popular "Christian" sense).  That form of intentional community can be empty or vibrant with life; the institutionalization per se doesn't make it one or the other.  max depree writes stunningly on this.

Though many aren't ready yet to call the Emerging Church a movement, it's not uncommon for movements to be imbalanced as they over-respond to perceived imbalances.  Chris calls us to a more centered place. 

1 comment:

Robbymac said...

Movement? I'm not sure why people are so horrified at being labelled a "movement"...

We have gurus (McLaren, Sweet, Kimball, etc.), we have conventions and conferences, we have our own section in the local Christian book store -- all the trappings of a denomination or movement, but without calling ourselves one.

Is this EC Lite, perhaps? :)

I think Chris Monroe is absolutely correct. I know that digging into historical theology has become a real source of nourishment for me on my journey. The over-emphasis on a new ecclesiology is akin to putting the cart before the horse.