August 4, 2005, 5:43 am
Filed under: uncategorized

What makes the list?

I’ve had several conversations over the past week with people that aren’t really down with the whole emerging church thing. There are parts of this conversation/movement that I’m not really into myself, but definitely some parts of it bring me hope and some much needed breathes of fresh air. I’m always open to dialogue about the various expressions of the conversation, and more importantly, I’m open to discussion of the theological, philosophical, and sociological underpinnings of it. But I’ve noticed one distinct change in myself over the past few years.

St. Augustine is the widely quoted author of this statement: “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.” My personal change has led me in a direction of narrowing the list of things I would consider essentials. I think that’s the rub for some who disagree with me – their lists of essentials are broader and longer. Once in a while I may run into a person with a shorter list than my own.

Often when someone challenges me on a doctrinal or theological viewpoint, it has much less to do with the point itself, and much more to do with how long our respective lists are. The thing that makes me sad is how quickly some people are willing to part company with other Kingdom citizens simply because they have a different list of essentials – it would seem that Augustine’s last line about charity is easily forgotten.

I’ve begun to brew on what things would make my list of essentials. In one sense, I don’t like the thought of developing a list, because I don’t want to become too rigid myself in what ought to be on it. However, I do think that it could be helpful. One of the critiques of the emerging church scene is that it’s too wishy-washy – and I do see that at times. I am thinking of doing this list mainly for the sake of my own approach to talking to people about the Kingdom of God. When I am in conversation with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus, what are the things I believe need to be communicated?

So what makes your list? Is there or should there be a list for the emerging church, or should it be for individuals to decide?


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