Friday, September 22, 2006

Is the Distinction between "Emerging Church" and "Emergent" Obscurantist?

I have a question and I'd like to precipitate some discussion in comments:

Mark Driscoll writes in Confessions of a Reformission Rev:

"The emergent church is part of the Emerging Church Movement but does not embrace the dominant theology of the movement" (emphasis mine).

In contrast, in the lively discussion section of the ever evolving emerging church definition on wikipedia, one of the participants commented:

"While I agree that there is a portion of the emerging church does not idenify with emergentvillage and those they label as "Emergent", the size and distinction of that group is small enough that it does not warrant its own article. Their definition and distinction of the terms emergent and emerging are not shared with many others and should not dominate their use in this article" [sic] (emphasis mine).

My experience has been that most of those that embrace the emerging church but don't associate as much with emergent village make that choice because they are not theological revisionists (to use Ed Stetzer's term without endorsing everything he said in his recent article - which I commented on here). (And - to be fair and just to make matters even more complicated - not all those who do associate themselves with emergent village would consider themselves revisionists, as Tony Jones recently pointed out).

But what I don't have a good handle on is the size of this group. Now, the majority doesn't rule on this question, but of the two quotes above, I don't feel that I know enough of the space to definitively state who's more correct - and I've been swimming around in the ec space for about as long as anyone.

So here's my question: are non-revisionist emerging church conversation participants so rare and so far away from the emerging church mainstream, that they just confuse people by claiming to be emerging church at all?

In other words, is the distinction of "emerging church" and "emergent" being made by so few of those in the emerging church conversation that those who maintain the distinction just need to face up to the fact that the dictionary definition has already been written by means of prevailing use and just give up on making a distinction?

(fwiw, I heartily embrace emerging church reconstructionism, but my own journey into emerging church revisionism has been far more nuanced, which I detail here.)

Any thoughts?

37 comments:

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Wow, you picked a goody, but a toughy. At the risk of being unpopular for saying this, I think there are far greater dynamics at work here in the distinctions than revisionist theology (though it does play a part). One aspect is the issue of national identity. Like in so many other areas, the USA has taken the emerging conversation in their context to an art form. One of the strengths of American culture is its broad vision and daring spirit, which means that there is a great deal of emerging church material, activity and people from the US in the lime light.

However, as a result, many people exploring the emerging church online or through books and media will be getting a significantly larger portion of emerging church influence that is shaped by many contextually specific elements, both good and not so good. Here in Canada, for example, when pastors ask me about the emerging church, they almost exclusively cite sources from the US conversation. While many of them are excellent sources, there is a growing impression that the emerging church was born within the American church and that it defines the larger, global conversation/movement. I simply don't think this is the case.

I am not saying this to be critical of the US. Much of the problem has to do with people not doing their homework. Emergent Village is a great group of people, who I think have done a great deal to lead the way in promoting and developing the conversation in many spheres, beyond just the borders of the US. However, I think it would be a mistake for people to think that EV is the norm or "official" expression of the movement.

That being said, it is hard to add balance to the power and bredth of the US influence on the pervasive understanding (and the unfortuate, if inevitable branding) of the emerging church. As a result, many people in the global community or those who don't identify with EV, are beginning to use different language, etc. (I think the "Friend Of Missional" phenomenon is one example). The result will be, I think, a diminishing group of people who quibble about the names and definitions, which will look like fewer people seeing the distinction and more agreement about the popular view. In truth, I have even considered changing the name of my blog.

I look forward to seeing where the discussion goes.

Peace,
Jamie

david rudd said...

in my context, many of my friends view me as being an "emerging" voice, yet i often find myself distancing myself from that label because of the "emergent village" dynamic.

i appreciate many of the things that have been done by EV, most of the books put out by those guys have a home on my shelves and i often recommend them.

however, my sense is that "emerging" is a term which should refer to those in many camps who find themselves on the progressive edge pushing for appropriate ecclesiological reform.

my issues with EV are as you noted the theological revisionism, as well as what i perceive to be an alignment with the political left of the US (i attribute this to an over-correction to the evangelical/conservative bedfellows).

i think these issues are large enough to warrant a distinction. i believe more people would be willing to wear the label "emerging" if it did not imply association with "emergent".

but that's just what i think. great post!

Stephen said...

jamie, thanks for your comments. i genuinely appreciate your international perspective. it seems almost tautological that americans tend to be ethnocentric in their perspective! As the cost of information declines, surely national distinctives will be less significant. I almost wrote "particularly as online translators become increasingly proficient" but then I remembered the tower of babel!!

And maybe - as you hint - the movement away from emerging/emergent language toward "missional" and other terms is inevitable.

I didn't quite get you on "The result will be, I think, a diminishing group of people who quibble about the names and definitions, which will look like fewer people seeing the distinction and more agreement about the popular view." can you unpack that a bit more?

Stephen said...

Hi David,

I hear you. 2x in the last few months folks have approached myself or one of my associates and expressed concern for my theology because of my association with the emerging church. In their mind, there did not seem to be a distinction between the emerging church and emergent, and so my post. my focus has definitely been ecclesiological and not theological and so my interest in what jamie hinted at regarding a completely alternative vocabulary structure. and there does seem to be a strong emergent alignment with the political left. I think your comment about this being an over-reaction to evangelicalisms recent alignment with the political right is interesting.

thanks for your comment.

Scot McKnight said...

Stephen,
I have myself distinguished emerging from emergent, and I think there are good reasons to do so.

First, emergent is a brand-name or whatever one wants to call it. It is an official organization. It does not speak for the whole but does provide one organizational link for the whole.

Second, I see emerging as a broader and more missional/ecclesiological emphasis and emergent as the think tank -- and the latter, because it tends to be the focus of the theologically adventurous and progressive types, cannot and will not speak for the wider missiological movement.

Third, read Gibbs-Bolger and you see emerging; then compare that to Emergent Village and you will see a different focus. That is why we need to maintain the distinction.

Case in point: DA Carson goes to Oz; there he says -- according to Hamo -- that what Hamo's ministry is all about is not what Carson thinks is emerging in the USA. Now that's a telling confession: Why? Because Don has connected "emerging" with "emergent" and, much more accurately, has connected "emergent" with (mostly) Brian McLaren -- who does not speak for some of the missionally-focused, largely evangelical-theologically, and much less politically-focused groups all around this great world of ours.

TSK being for me one of the clearest examples.

Scot McKnight said...

One more comment; long way back I posted on this. Probably April or May.

Recently, I approached it from the four impulses perspective. One impulse of the emerging movement is political, and the issue for me to watch is whether or not it will move in the direction of Walter Rauschenbusch or will it avoid the collapse of his gospel into the social gospel? I do not say this lightly; I say it as one familiar with the development of Rauschenbusch.

I say this from the perspective that American evangelicals have never been able to do this well -- keep gospel and justice in balance. That is why I wrote Embracing Grace. I wanted to work it out for myself, and I hope it helps others and I hope it can lead to discussion.

Jim Wallis is today's Rauschenbusch, and his theology of the atonement is either Abelardian or Girardian (I've never heard him mention Girard).

What I ask about him is whether their gospel will become nothing more than social justice (defined as it is by the US Constitution) or will it become the fullness of what the Bible means by justice -- being made right in all four directions through the incarnation, death, resurrection and Pentecost in the context of the community of faith?

I see plenty who can be critical of the American Right; what I want to see is not a turn to the American Left but a turn, with Hauerwas, to a radical ecclesiology where the genuine alternative community is put on full display.

Sorry for being long-winded and stretching this over two posts, but the question you ask is profoundly signficant for this movement.

Stephen said...

Hi Scot,

I appreciated your comments and your - like Jamie - bringing in an international perspective.

I've agreed with you that the emergent conversation that seems to be more theologically focused should be considered a subset of the emerging church conversation. My concern had been that so few maintain the distinction that it's just confusing. I missed your earlier post about the distinction and will look that up. I personally think that the distinction is critical.

I think your comment "It does not speak for the whole but does provide one organizational link for the whole" captures a great source of at least the definitional tension. Because emergent village is the only organization (that I'm aware of) completely dedicated to the emerging church conversation, and because Brian the most well-known author within the conversation, it's understandable that folks would believe emergent and Brian speaks for the whole movement. One wonders if another organization would be helpful. Not one that competes, but one that seeks to capture the broader ec conversation, maintains a commitment to theological orthodoxy and avoids unwarranted theological adventurism, yet one that also appreciates that the fact that theological formulation is never entirely complete.

I have the Carson/Hamo exchange saved to review but haven't gotten to it yet.

In resonance with your comments about Rauschenbusch, I do hope that the recent emergent political activism - much if not all of it worth celebrating - doesn't debilitate with an unbalanced focus on the temporal. (I recently posted on the balance of concern with social justice issues and eternal issues here ). That would be unfortunate.

I haven't yet read your Embracing Grace but will. I didn't realize it was written with this balance in mind and that heightens even further my interest.

I recently posted about two Tim Keller talks where I felt that he did a good job of balancing of what shouldn't be competing concerns.

I didn't find your comments long-winded at all but rather appreciated the detail!

Thanks,

Robbymac said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robbymac said...

Great post. Jamie brought my attention to it after reading my own post on Friend of Missional.

I don't think the distinction between Emergent and emerging church is deliberately obscurantist. I think the decision to re-name the Terra Nova/Young Leaders organization "Emergent" has unintentionally led to confusion. They are a much smaller (and mostly American) segment of the world-wide emerging conversation, but they are a very vocal and prolific segment with a lot of media attention -- both good and bad.

I would agree with Jamie that there are a number of people, like myself, who are choosing to describe ourselves as "missional" rather than "emerging" (although TSK's coupling of "emerging-missional" makes a lot of sense as well). I hope I'm not putting words in Jamie's mouth, but I think the "diminishing group of people who quibble" he mentions is Jamie's observation that some people (like me) are simply choosing another self-descriptor instead of endlessly trying to explain the difference between emerging and emergent.

While I agree that neither Stetzer nor Driscoll have written -- or have the right to write -- the definitive word on reconstructionists, revisionists, etc., I also found their observations to be insightful and helpful for me, personally, as I continue to wrestle with my part in the conversation.

For now, I have elected to self-identify as Friend of Missional.

iggy said...

I know I am way over simplifying this....

But here goes...

I think the Driscoll crowd wants to have it both ways... to be "cool" (emerging church-ish" and hold to the old paradigms. To me one cannot hold to a “system” of theology that will not bend and be emerging. It is like asking a petrified tree to grow. It can’t. It is static and subject to its “system” and “dogmas”.

Emerging implies growth and movement, so one cannot be static and never change and emerge.

This is why I use “emerging thought” as it holds to ideas which are fluid; it also implies that it is in the “information” that is being processed and not the rock solid ideas already in place… or what I look at as our foundation, who is Christ Jesus. We can take and build on the foundation.

Personally I think many are making this more complicated than it needs be.

I consider myself a revisionist, yet I am not part of what some call a “movement”, rather I see it as an exchange of information to help all see beyond the confines of religion and stagnate theologies.

Blessings,
iggy

Stephen said...

Robbymac,

Thanks for your comments.

I do think think the media attention has not helped matters in terms of identification.

I can understand the choice just to avoid the confusion entirely and go with "missional" and the choice is intriguing. I'll look forward to exploring Friend of Missional.

thanks,

Stephen said...

hi iggy,

I hear you but I must say that sounds like you're proposing a shibboleth: unless you're open to changing your theology, you can't be emerging.

So then it becomes a question of extent.

Personally, as I've said elsewhere , I think you have to willing to personally emerge theologically but by that I don't mean questioning "the pattern of the sound words" (2 Tim 1:13,14) or denying that it's important to "stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter" (2 Thess 2:15). There are theological non-negotiables. There is baby not to be thrown out with bathwater.

So as long as the core truthset is protected, I don't really have a problem with that kind of emerging theological formulation and would not only see that as a shibboleth for the emerging church but also for any theologian!

knsheppard said...

Stephen,

Distinctions are important where identity is concerned, I would argue. And, on a certain level, clarity of terms is essential for genuine conversation. But, where dialogue is really going to take place progressively, it will be in the space of Christian friendship (in the instance). The distinction is important for the reason Jamie mentions as well, considering the international scope of the movement, which may define itself differently from the American one. As I Canadian I certainly hesitate from being affiliated to EV in an direct way, and it is for precise reasons related to the terms in question. And we can work on your ethnocentrism at our next Doube T meeting, Stephen! ;) (I'll bring some Ketchup chips & poutine!)

Missional Jerry said...

I struggle with these distinctions.

But its fun to try to figure it out.

iggy said...

Stephen,

It is not that: "unless you're open to changing your theology, you can't be emerging."

What I am proposing is more in line with:

Are we really protecting sound authentic doctrine as in 2 Tim 1:13,14 or are we protecting “doctrines of man”. When I was just a wee little “Postmodern Christian”, I was attacked for even questioning doctrines… Especially the Trinity, Christianity as the only way to salvation, and for looking into the possibility “Mid Tribulation” or worse that I may believe there is no Rapture at all!

To even question was to be a heretic… at least in the circle I was in.

To be free to question is to realize that we are truly FREE, and that God, is big enough for our questions, that He is not afraid of them is to be able to allow God to freely move and teach by His Spirit without out involvement that can usually hinder or confuse.

What I am proposing is not that we throw out the systems to study, but that we do not then try to contain God within our finite systems. If there is a shibboleth it would be that one must be open that others can question their structure, and those who are mature (this of course is not some type of “growth chart”) who understand that growth does not always come with having the answer given or to give, but in the asking and seeking.

Once in Christ,(which is both a line in the sand and not at the same time) I see it is not in drawing lines in the sand saying you are in and you are out… but that we are on a journey, and some may decide to stop and say they are content with a “system” and other have decided that that “system” is not enough both giving grace to let each other grow (1 Cor 3:6) at their own pace as God grows them. I see that the line that IS drawn is usually from the outside (outside emerging thought) by those who have decided to stay within the system, be it an institution, theology, or whatever.

I think that it is rising above “shibboleths” in that we try to define ourselves and let God define us… in that we receive our true identities. It is moving from the “seen” to those things of faith. (2 Corinthians 4: 18, 5: 7)

To me it is fulfilling 2 Cor 13: 5. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test. NIV If one stays static and is unable to change, then they have at least to me "defined themselves" before they have received that name that only Jesus will call us. (Rev 2:17)


Blessings,
iggy

Leighton Tebay said...

My trip to Australia a little while ago revealed to me most of the Forge crowd would be in the reconstructionist camp.

In era of the reformation the label Anabaptist applied to any ragtag group of state church dissidents. I think the EC is very similar.
As things mature we will see a splintering. I think the only thing that has kept the peace is a tentative humility around theological issues. Eventually those that affirm core orthodox doctrine are going to say to those who don't "you have invented a new religion. We aren't in the same league let alone the same ball game."

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Stephen,

What I meant by that comment was that fewer people will have the time or energy to argue for a more broad definition of emerging/emergent and rather opt for other terminology (i.e. missional). As a result, it will look like there is an increasing consistancy about what emerging/emergent means, when it might have more to do with fewer people identifying with it. Does that make more sense?

While I agree with you that the information world is largely levelling off, I am not convinced that it is playing out that way in practice. The fact is that American's (generally) are a more daring, vocal and innovative people- something they should be proud of, thus this is not a critique- but as a result the amount of time, energy & resources being invested into the American conversation gives it a powerful edge, especially where those outside the conversation looking in are concerned.

Again, this isn't to fault the US, but rather acknowledge the realities of a given culture & context.

Peace,
Jamie

Stephen said...

hi iggy,

i like the contrast betw 2 Tim 1:13,14 and "doctrines of man." valid, I think.

i'm not really directing the following comment to you, iggy:

one of the things I've seen in ec has been - imo - a disregarding of the proper contexts for questioning. example: it's one thing for a believer to share disturbing thoughts she has about the trinity with a friend or for a new christian to express concerns ab the trinity to his mentor. it's quite another for a pastor to reveal his doubts in the pulpit.

Stephen said...

hi leighton,

one of the things that's fascinated me has been the canadian-australian alignment i've been seeing in the ec. i believe i first learned about one of my new heroes -
mike frost - from the ever impressive joron cooper. And the resonance between the two countries seems to be around the missional concept.

Stephen said...

hi jamie,

ok i follow. [sigh] sadly, it does make sense.

it'll be interesting to see how it playes out. i'm frankly getting tired of feeling like every time I talk about "emerging church" i have to launch into a taxonomy discussion. i fear it's becoming a distraction.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Stephen,

I share you frustration, at times, with taxonomy being an issue. Then again, I can't help but think that this is a part of our nature- in a good way. Consider Adam's first task from God. I'll have to think about it more.

Peace,
Jamie

Stephen said...

jamie,

adam's mandate to name the animals and ec nomenclature. *that's* a fascinating connection! i'll look forward to any further thoughts you have on that!

thanks,

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Stephen,

I just posted on the taxonomy question over at my blog. Just FYI.

Peace,
Jamie

Anonymous said...

The distinction between emergent and emerging is a way those of us outside the US have used to maintain some sort of voice in the conversation. So I'm saddened by this conversation.

"the size and distinction of that group is small enough that it does not warrant its own article".

How many countries are there outside the US that now longer warrant a mention?

steve taylor
blogging at emergentkiwi.org.nz
(idealistically dreaming that a non-US voice would be welcome at an emerging table)

Stephen said...

hi steve!

there may be a lack of international ec voices in the us ec but you're the third country to show up so far in comments to this post! :)

but i do need some help with your comment because I'm not following you. are you saying that outside of the us, international ec participants use "emergent" to denote all US emerging church folks and use "emerging church" to refer to the worldwide phenomenon? Is that what you're saying?

and - if i'm tracking with you - the wiki commenter, I believe, was talking about the ... if I can use this term ... non-emergent emerging church folks with his comment. I don't think he was equating "emerging church" with all those participating in the world.

but pls say more so that we can understanding what you're saying.

Stephen said...

jamie,

thanks for your post! I'll take a look.

Aaron Flores said...

Stephen, you asked:

Are non-revisionist emerging church conversation participants so rare and so far away from the emerging church mainstream, that they just confuse people by claiming to be emerging church at all?

Missional is one of vMemes (a value gene that comprises a culture) of the American emerging church. A high percentage of individuals attracted to the values of the emerging church culture are seeking something missional. This missional value is greater than the value to revise theology and I would venture to say that the latter is not all that salient of ec in the U.S. More.

Stephen said...

steve taylor gave me permission to post this email exchange here:

Steve,

Thanks for responding. Pls see below.

On 9/26/06, Steve Taylor wrote:


emergent is a US organisation.
emerging is used to describe life outside that US organisation. That
includes the rest of the world. That rest of the world actually feels it
has some place in the body of Christ.

Stephen:

Please believe me when I tell you that I have never heard these two terms differentiated that way. I consider "emergent" as applying to emergent village and that to be a subset of the "emerging church" which I consider to include the US and the rest of the world. I've never heard "emerging church" as primarily representing the conversation internationally while "emergent" represents the term in the US. I always understood "emerging church" as denoting the conversation wherever it occurred irrespective of nationality. Am I understanding you correctly here?

Steve:

To quote from A-team (yes an unlikely source):

"Emerging" refers to any church or Christian who takes into
consideration the cultural context in which they minister, regardless of
spatial or temporal location. In other words, a church does not need to
be North American and dealing with postmodernism in order to be
"emerging." .... "Emergent" refers to a specific group of individuals
and churches within the contemporary emerging church that have formed an
organization < http://www.emergentvillage.com/Site/index.htm> to promote
certain ecclesiastical changes within the North American postmodern
context."

Stephen:

Ok, I think I see what you're saying. What I'm trying to say is that within the US there are emerging church folks who do not consider themselves "emergent." This is mostly because of emergent's tendancy to do theological reformulation though some may have some other reasons.

Steve:

So when you dismiss the significance of emerging church, as you did on
your blog, I hear you a continuation of the UScentric outlook that
typifies so much US attitude to things (including Christian) outside
your context,

Stephen:

Ok, I'm missing you here. I don't mean to dismiss its significance...wait..... Ok, ok, ok, I think I might be getting you here. So when I say should we should just give up on differentiating "emergent" and "emerging church" to you that means that we should say the whole thing's American! Ok, I get you now. No, that's not what I was trying to say. You see, I wasn't really intentionally limiting my understanding of "emergent" to just the States. Chalke, for example, would be more emergent in the way I was using the term. But, you might correctly counter, the term "emergent" originated with the "emergent village' and is therefore American. I hear you and that's fair. But please understand that it was not the American feature of the term I was focusing on, it was the theological revisionism I was focusing on.

And - further - please also understand that I consider myself part of the emerging church! It's just that more and more, it seem that you can't be considered a part of the emerging church unless you're a theological revisionist, In fact, if you want to get the exact gist of what I was blogging about, read "theological revisionist" every time you read the term "emergent" and you'll catch my sense exactly.

Does that make more sense?

And - because you have brought up a very important distinction that I simply was not thinking of at all (which I am willing to admit might be very typically American of me) I would like to post this entire email in comments so that others might see this interchange. Is that ok with you?

Further, feel free to just say yes and then post your response to this note here. Your perspective on this needs to be heard and I appreciate it.

For what it's worth, I seem to be getting more agreement and response from my international readers than from my domestic readers!

Steve:

my response probably reads as harsh. i don't know how to make it
lighter. it should not be read as personal.

Stephen:


No, I'm ok. I think I see where you were coming from. You saw me as depreciating the international emerging church when I really wasn't attempting to make any kind of national/international comment at all. I really was just talking about theological revisionism.

Stephen said...

from Steve Taylor in response to above:

my response to your comment is this:

i appreciate that you wanted to listen to me. i think it is important
to note that it is a classic colonial response to say 'i was just
talking theologically.' How I read that is "the big ideas ie theology
can and are being used in a way that squeezes out the perspective of
those outside the US."

Colonisers have a great history of using their ideas and their
definitions and their academic revisions to silence the Other.

There are thousands of people and hundreds of countries outside the US
that would consider EmergentUS only one of many, many dialogue partners.
Sure it's co-opted US$ to produce books (mine included - I'm the author
of Out of Bounds Church? and I am constantly amazed that a US publisher
would accept my manuscript and fiurther, would even let me keep all my
indigenous examples) and thus to dominate the conversation. Again,
typical US use of technology and power and resource. But why does that
mean that the hundreds of countries outside the US need to have our
Christ-following conversations defined or revised or theologically
messed with?

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen said...

Steve,

I fear we're talking past each other. See below

On 9/26/06, Steve Taylor wrote:

post it if you want ...

my response to your comment is this:

i appreciate that you wanted to listen to me. i think it is important
to note that it is a classic colonial response to say 'i was just
talking theologically.' How I read that is "the big ideas ie theology
can and are being used in a way that squeezes out the perspective of
those outside the US."

Stephen:

I'm sorry; I'm sort of lost here. Can you parse this out a bit more? Might you give me an example of what you're talking about relevant to the theological topics being discussed (homosexuality, hell, penal substitution, etc)?

Steve:

Colonisers have a great history of using their ideas and their
definitions and their academic revisions to silence the Other.

Stephen:

Ah, Foucault! Ok, I'm listening.

Steve:

There are thousands of people and hundreds of countries outside the US
that would consider EmergentUS only one of many, many dialogue partners.

Stephen:

Yes.

Steve:

Sure it's co-opted US$ to produce books (mine included - I'm the author
of Out of Bounds Church? and I am constantly amazed that a US publisher
would accept my manuscript and fiurther, would even let me keep all my
indigenous examples) and thus to dominate the conversation. Again,
typical US use of technology and power and resource. But why does that
mean that the hundreds of countries outside the US need to have our
Christ-following conversations defined or revised or theologically
messed with?

Stephen:

I got a little lost again on the last sentence. Not sure if this question I'm about to ask quite addresses your concern. The doctrines being challenged were codified in Europe (right? - I'm thinking Westminster Confession of Faith, and the other Reformed era Creeds) so .... Not getting the American part in terms of theology. Can you help me? I want to understand and I don't think I do. I'm not sure we disagree.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, I suspect we are using totally different lens. You are using a theological one to try to define emerging and emergent; and then to try and say that based on numbers and nuance, the distinctions are "obscurantist." In saying this, you are using ideas ie theology, to remove difference.

I responded initially to that by saying that from where I sit, the differences are contextual; ie there are lots of people exploring faith in postmodernity who have very little connection with "emergent."

And then a secondary issue emergeddis; that the use of ideas; ie theology; is often a tool used by dominant groups to remove voice and difference. You ask for an example - women and submission - would be one. The use of Scripture and hermenuetics becomes a game played (by males) that often marginalises. So ideas are used to remove voice. The Bible is used to enforce silence.

(It does this at a range of levels - men think in certain ways and argue in those ways and that can be exclusive; men are more likely to go to seminary, so have more Bible tools to reinforce their alleged hermeneutics etc).

Don't know whether that helps. I got hot under the collar cos firstly because to reduce emerging vs emergent to theological ideas alone ignores context (hugely ironic given that the whole postmodern question is about context; the role of culture and gospel); and secondly that your reply to me in terms of saying you were just theological, merely reinforced the way that theology was ignoring context.

does that help?

steve
emergentkiwi

Stephen said...

aaron,

I haven't missed your comment - I'll get back to it! Thank you!

Steve,

Thanks again for the dialogue.

you wrote:

"You are using a theological one to try to define emerging and emergent; and then to try and say that based on numbers and nuance, the distinctions are "obscurantist." In saying this, you are using ideas ie theology, to remove difference."

Not quite. I have been a long-time advocate that there is most definitely a difference between the two (along with jason clark in the uk and others in the states)within the United States. My concern was that within the US, however, the two are popularly used interchangeably. I suspect that is what you've been reacting against and I understand. Let me affirm clearly that I do not believe that the emerging church conversation is limited to the United States.

you wrote:

"And then a secondary issue emergeddis; that the use of ideas; ie theology; is often a tool used by dominant groups to remove voice and difference. You ask for an example - women and submission - would be one. The use of Scripture and hermenuetics becomes a game played (by males) that often marginalises. So ideas are used to remove voice. The Bible is used to enforce silence."

THanks for the example. I believe that the pretext for unorthodox and orthodox beliefs can be used oppressively.

Steve:

"I got hot under the collar cos firstly because to reduce emerging vs emergent to theological ideas alone ignores context "

Yes, I think your complaint here was legitimate. I really was thinking about the North American context and I can see how my suggestion (which was not my preference at all) that we should just treat "emerging church" and "emergent" as synonymous then collapses the worldwise emerging church conversation down to what's happening at emergent village. Steve, I apologize for this and will post a separate clarification post. Thank you for making noise about this and you were right to do so.

Aaron Flores said...

No Worries. Relpy at your leisure.
After reading all the comments, I'm specifically speaking of the "emerging church" (at least in the U.S.) independent of "emergent."

It should be a lot of easier if emergent just changed their name. LOL.

Robbymac said...

"It should be a lot of easier if emergent just changed their name."

LOL -- don't get Bob Hyatt going on that one; he's been saying this for months!!

iggy said...

LOL!

Now you might know why I bypass all of this and use "emerging thought" as it is more the information being relayed than an identifier. To me it has been "emerging church" for all, and "Emergent" as the ones that are trying to get organized... which is not a bad thing.

I love that Steve Taylor reminded us that we are using UScentric goggles! That is rich and something we all (US and outside) need to have TONS of GRACE AND MERCY with each other over...

Again, though it is the combined unity of all of our "emerging thought" that seems to make us different from the mainstream... don't you think? The freedom to explore and define, then redifine... to add structure then take it away... in a way, to "play" with/in our faith in Christ. To be human and explore eternal possibilities that really are beyond our own grasp... To exchange my "story" and live in His, and share that with you... to see were we meet, and don't meet, yet share grace and mercy and love in our shared knowledge/ignorance... without shame!?!

I am rambling a bit here i know. Yet, as we pool our thoughts it enriches us all... it edifies and builds us up.

Like a new thought, be it inspired, caught, taught, the "emerging church" will grow and emerge from under the detritus of past theologies, and as long as we seek to stay connected to the Head... we will find unity as Jesus spoke of in John 17.

Blessings,
iggy

Shannon Lewis said...

If we consider Mark Driscoll in any way 'emerging' (if we consider 'missional' as a sub-category of 'emerging' then he would definitely be part of the movement), as he is definitely seeking to minister to a post-modern culture, given the size of Acts 29 Network, I'd say that automatically sways the balance of the 'emerging movement' towards traditional theology (even though it's expression may be culturally liberal), and away from liberalism/revisionism. I consider myself emerging/missional, yet not 'emergent'/emergentvillage, being influenced greatly by the ideas of Stetzer, Driscoll, Chandler, McManus, Radical Orthodoxy, and even somewhat by Rob Bell - but being fairly cautious of folks like McLaren and his camp. My experience has been that the majority of the 'emerging church' folk are less revisionist than those who are the most outspoken, like emergentvillage.