Friday, October 07, 2005

Reflections on the Emergent/Emerging Movement/Church/Conversation

This note is to announce a series of posts forthcoming on the Emergent/Emerging Movement/Church/Conversation.

I use "Emergent/Emerging" to indicate that my reflections are mainly on the Emergent "movement" in the United States, though throughout these posts I will interact with the larger "Emerging" movement situated in the U.K. and elsewhere in the world. I use "Movement/Church/Conversation" because in my research I notice the use of all three terms to describe this particular faith movement. Henceforth I will use Emergent or Emerging when the context dictates and I will use movement, church, and conversation (generally) interchangeably.

At this point I envision a series of somewhere around 15 posts that will begin with a glance at the flurry of attention the Emergent/Emerging movement has received in the last 12-15 months or so. I will then outline what I see as the major themes of the movement and discuss the movement's relation to postmodernism. From here I will flesh out the themes I identify previously, narrated through/by the voices of Emergent/Emerging writers, pastors, and practitioners. My comments will then shift to a more descriptive (rather than expositional) mode. I will describe my experiences with Ecclesia, an Emergent community in Houston; I participated in/with this community through the Lenten season earlier this year. Summary thoughts will follow this post, and will have something of an interpretive edge. I will then move into the prescriptive mode, and offer my thoughts as to where and how the Emergent movement in the United States might interface Christianity in the global south.

I plan then to offer my reviews of D.A. Carson's now infamous book on the Emerging church and R. Scott Smith's forthcoming work that interacts with the Emergent movement.

Here's where I stand in relation to the Emergent/Emerging conversation: First, [born in 1977] I am what Robert Webber calls a "younger evangelical." I am one who attempts to "deal thoughtfully with the shift from twentieth- to twenty-first-century culture," as Webber puts it, "[one who] is committed to construct a biblically rooted, historically informed, and culturally aware new evangelical witness in the twenty-first century" (16). More specifically, I would describe myself as a "catholic evangelical," one who hails from the evangelical strain of Christianity, and is somewhat ambivalent toward yet hopeful for the movement, and who attempts to dialogue historically, theologically, practically, and relationally with both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Second, I am a historian by training, though my interests, writing, research, and teaching straddle disciplinary boundaries. Third, I am not "officially" (i.e., a "member") part of an Emergent community, though I am an interested observer and occasional participant in Emergent activities.

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