"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Emergent? Postmodern?

There is a lot of buzz about the emergent, postmodern church. All the "cool" Christians identify with the ill-defined concept. The emerging church is composed of people who seem to say, "Out with the old program, in with the new." Every denomination was begun by such dissatisfied saints. They flowed out of the rock mountain as an "emerging" movement of red-hot, molten spirituality. Without exception, they cooled and became just another rigid layer of the institutional mountain. Can we break the cycle?


Calvin Park said...

That really is the question. If our generation is able to break the cycle, then perhaps we take a step in the correct direction. But I'm not sure that the whole idea of the "emergent church" is going to get us there. I'm not against it, I just think that its been done enough in the past to see that it doesn't last long.

CFisher said...

Actually, if you'll get to the root of the "emergent Church," you'll see that they are as much about returning to orthodox Christian tradition as they are about doing something "new" (if anything is really new). In many areas, they are more likely to say "Out with the old, in with the older."

Your claim that "every denomination was begun by such dissatisfied saints" is true. But I'm sure you would agree there have been times when the Saints had good reason to be dissatisfied. I'm guessing you are Protestant, so you probably can easily identify with Luther and his following of dissatisfied Saints as they protested against the Catholic Church of his day.

I'm not a full-fledged "emergent," if that's the proper title, so I can't really speak for them. But I'm guessing most people in the movement would be puzzled by your question: "Can we break the cycle?" I think they would probably answer: "Heavens no! Why would we want to?" because they view the history of the Church as progressive, and they view these Church splits as the necessary cultural adaptations that have occured and must continue to occur for the Church to reach all nations and all peoples. Now on this point, I can wholeheartedly agree, as long as this emphasis on "cultural relevance" does not mean that we allow ourselves to become subjugated by our culture, but only that we learn to speak the same basic language as the world around us. This is crucial, because only then can we engage our culture instead of hiding from it in our counter-culture of Christian fiction, Christian music, Christian TV, Christian fitness clubs, etc.

I'm not supporting all out postmodernism, especially when it comes to questions of moral relativism, but I've checked out the emergent Church, and to me they're making a lot of sense in at least some areas.