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May 28, 2009

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michael

Scott,

You know I always appreciate your work and I'm glad to see you taking the time to clarify some themes in the emergent church. As you pointed out in your first post, however, you do not consider yourself a part of the emergent community, and you have no desire for PazNaz to be an emergent church. Yet if these themes are the central points of EC, one is left wondering why you don't call yourself emergent, and why you wouldn't want to consider PazNaz emergent. I think it would be helpful if you (or me, or someone), would spend some time pointing out the flaws in the EC, but from as sensitive a perspective as you have just shown. Usually in these discussions, those who participate are either defensive and supportive of the EC, or rabidly anti-EC for usually misguided reasons. On the other hand, I do think there are some serious problems with the EC other than the kind that might be raised by fundamentalists or those scared of the label.

For starters (off the top of my head):
- emergent churches have a tendency to pick worship styles and themes based on what looks cool or feels spiritual, without considering the theological implications
- lack of any kind of accountability, theologically or ecclesially
- the idea that people are spiritual but not religious is an anthropological claim about human nature, but that claim itself is not necessarily shared (ie, not everyone is Californian)
- by making itself more "accessible to the un-churched" the EC indicates that it believes the primary role of the church is to make converts, and not to be the church. why make the church more accessible? people shouldn't want to join.
- finally, if the EC is a conversation among like minded christians, why the need to create a new label and distinguish itself from the ongoing conversation that is the church? why create unnecessary divisiveness? everything that exists in the EC already existed, and will exist when the EC inevitably disappears.

Of course, it is as difficult to criticize the EC as it is to summarize its key points, since there is no continuity about what EC means. Some of the leaders in the community should be criticized for being run of the mill calvinists who just change the language w/out touching the grammar, others read scripture like fundamentalists but focus on different scriptures (emphasizing the social gospel), others have a predominantly reactionary theology but no constructive thought, etc.

My shots here are admittedly cheap. I just shot this response out without the sensitivity that I am asking for.

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