Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Emergent Church 1.0

My friend, Steve, and I have been meeting regulary to try to figure out what the Emergent Church is all about. In fact, we still haven't even got a clear definition yet. Probably because the churches are so fluid and varied. In many ways, it is the anti-"seeker sensitive movement." Not that they are trying to keep "seekers" out, but that they embrace ancient liturgies and forms of community worship so uncommon in many megachurches, and they abhor the marketing and performance that usually goes along with being "seeker sensitive." Yet, they are also proactive about integrating the arts and technology into their worship services. So the stage is set for purposeful engagement with culture, missional they call it. More on that later.

Over the next few weeks I hope to post some of our findings that will result in one of my major research papers due next month. Steve suggested a revolutionary thesis: "the Emergent Church is to North America what Liberation Theology was to South America." He has teased this out quite a bit in his own blog, check it out at: But here are the major points:
1. The names imply the seeking of freedom
2. The “grassroots” nature
3. House churches and base communities
4. Distrust of modernity
5. Critical towards an overly rational faith
6. An emphasis on orthopraxis
7. Political associations
8. Community and structural sin

Also, check out his bibliography on the Emergent Church:


DAO said...

hey bro,
check out my blog on the WHI and Carson on this. Interesting discussion resource. I recall asking Ed Stetzer a question at a church planting conference about doctrine and methodology...his answer was my humble opinion.
hope to catch up soon with you and your girlie!

StorminNormin said...

since i can't post on his sight for some reason i trust you will pass along the message,

please discuss: theological method of lib. theo and emergent

one problem: context from which lib. theo has grown out of is poverty (material poverty). this is the only reason there is liberation theology. i do not think the "emergent church" is immpoverished? Maybe spiritually, but not materially. This is a keystone to liberation theology and without it, the rest falls apart. you need to address this. Guiterrez stress "option for the poor" - how does this fit with emergent? i am not saying it doesnt, but you need to address this.

Furthermore, liberation theology is very catholic and emergent is very evangelical. i would argue that emergent is what happens when postmodern north american evangelicals wake up, critically analyze their past, and realize that the Catholics have been "emergent" for 1000 years.

just a theory


ps - you two guys seem to know a lot about emergent, whereas i know nothing about it. on my blog i am trying to learn exactly what it is. that is, i am seeking to define the emergent church in a scholarly way - please visit the conversation on my blog and add your most appreciated wisdom - thank you

Josh said...

Glad to have you in our discussion.
Thanks for your insights and concerns! I'll pass on the notes to Steve and well try to hash out some of the differences. You're dead on about the two being completely different contexts. We are definitely not trying to equate the two, but note similarities. As much as emergent is claiming to be "post-evangelical" it seems as though most of the leaders are from evangelical backgrounds. I'd be interested in hearing how you think the Catholic Church has been emergent over the millenia. Do you mean this because emergent has adopted Catholic liturgy and practices? They've also brought in smatherings of many other traditions. Although emergent is not trying to liberate the masses from literal poverty, they are committed to liberating the masses from religious hierarchy and Christendom in general. Tune in for further developments. Thanks for dropping by.

DAO said...

hey Josh, you heard of R Scott Smith? he's got some interesting analysis on his webpage, link posted on my blog on The Emergent discussion. You will find chapters 3 and 6 of his upcoming book. ch.3 is very interesting, yet to get to 6.
Storminnormin has us linked on his blog. Cutting or flattering, I know not. lets talk soon, huh

StorminNormin said...

when i wrote, "the Catholics have been "emergent" for 1000 years" what i really meant to say is that "Catholics have been Catholics for 1000 years" and now the "emergent" church is moving back towards Cahtolicism but they don't want to call it Catholicism so they made up the term "emergent" -

but everyone knows, "a rose is just as sweet by any other name," Shakespeare said that.

"You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Abraham Lincoln said that.

"I'll you be in my dream if you let me be in yours" Bob Dylan said that...

"Emergent is emerging out of evanglicalism back towards Catholicism" - I said that...

your pal,