Thursday, April 26, 2007

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

Interesting article from Christianity Today by Scot McKnight. Courtesy of Pastor Billy Calderwood of the Aqueous Church in Goleta, CA.

The article discusses the Emerging Church phenomenon and its varieties... while also knocking down some urban legends. In particular, I thought McKnight made a good point that we can understand the emerging church as an evolving post-evangelicalism:
A fourth stream flowing into the emerging lake is characterized by the term "post-evangelical". The emerging movement is a protest against much of evangelicalism as currently practiced. It is post-evangelical in the way that neo-evangelicalism (in the 1950s) was post-fundamentalist. It would not be unfair to call it postmodern evangelicalism.
This also includes what McKnight calls a post-systematic theology:
The emerging movement tends to be suspicious of systematic theology. Why? Not because we don't read systematics, but because the diversity of theologies alarms us, no genuine consensus has been achieved, God didn't reveal a systematic theology but a storied narrative, and no language is capable of capturing the Absolute Truth who alone is God. Frankly, the emerging movement loves ideas and theology. It just doesn't have an airtight system or statement of faith... Hence, a trademark feature of the emerging movement is that we believe all theology will remain a conversation about the Truth who is God in Christ through the Spirit, and about God's story of redemption at work in the church. No systematic theology can be final. In this sense, the emerging movement is radically Reformed. It turns its chastened epistemology against itself, saying, "This is what I believe, but I could be wrong. What do you think? Let's talk."
Being a believer in the necessity of a dogmatic theology, which I also believe is essentially progressive, I quite frankly don't see how any movement like this can have any lasting impact on the world. I realize my conclusion is rather harsh, and I hope that Pastor Billy will forgive me for that. Nonetheless, I do appreciate their interest in discussing that with me. (really!)


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