The Wacky Emerging Church: Reason #14
March 9, 2008, 12:43 pm
Filed under: blogging, Christendom, emerging church, theology

This is the second entry in a continuing series. You may want to read my list of disclaimers and intro remarks here, if you haven’t done so already.

Reason #14: The new Kool-Aid still has that same funky aftertaste as the old kind.

I’ll start by saying that this reason doesn’t feature as prominently in the emerging church movement as it once did, but it does rear it’s head on occasion, so I’ll go ahead and mention that prefix we’ve all come to love so much. Ready? Say it with me now: “Post-_________ .” At some point, all members of the emerging church must take a blood vow to be at least two of the following: post-Christendom, postmodern, post-critical, post-mega-church, post-Chris Tomlin, post-evangelical, or Post Raisin Bran. Postmodern, of course, is the favorite post- of all. Mind you, almost none of us can tell you what postmodern means, but we’ve even figured out how to be ironic in admitting that.

I did not read much postmodern philosophy in college. I’ve read more of it in the past seven or eight years. But, it’s still a bit of a fuzzy fish . . . by definition. What I have figured out is that I relate to many of the questions and challenges that postmodern thought has raised. I can critique the Enlightenment project and modernity as well as the next guy.

But in all of the brokenness that we have come to see in modernity and foundationalism, we have to be prepared to admit something very important. Postmodernism is broken too. I’ve heard many people blast away so much at modernity and toot the horn of postmodernism so much that I think some of us have failed to see this. Some of us wave the flag in favor of postmodernism, never noticing that it’s going to end up biting us in the butt the same way modernity did. It’s a potentially helpful way of thinking – nothing more, nothing less. But it ain’t no savior.

Most critics of the emerging church flail away at how postmodernism threatens the very core of our belief system as Christians. I disagree with that. But mostly because these critics are betraying an allegiance to modernity that’s no better than an allegiance to postmodernism. They’re both good for some things, and bad for others.

So let’s just agree here that we can keep both kinds of tools in the toolbox, but they’re only that. The Kingdom of heaven does not rely on philosophical structures or systems. We have free access to it, through multiple points of entry. We need not be critical of those who enter the Kingdom through a different mental process than we do. We can encourage them to let the Spirit lead in them in a unique way, just as the Spirit does with each of us.

Thank you for your attention. That is all. Comment at will.


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I think the goal of the emerging church is to not necessarily be ‘post’ anything, except perhaps post religion, as much as that is possible. Beauty may have killed the beast but it was religion that killed the Christ, and continues to do so to this day. Aside from all of the various incarnation doctrines, Jesus did enthusiastically condemn the religious system of his day, and it’s obsession with smothering the Spirit. The church of today as well as the last 1900 years or so is in essence almost indistinguishable from the religious system of his time, in spite of changing forms

Savvy emergent leaders realize the constant danger of an easy slide into religiosity and a new form of legalism. Hence their reluctance to spell out a new orthodoxy. Thank God that, as you said, the Kingdom does not rely upon systems and structures. And we must be tolerant (is that still a bad word?) of the various ways in which people come to God. But that does not mean that we need be silent when we encounter strident and invasive objections to this tolerance.

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