What Has Become of the Emerging Church? The Problem of a Never Ending Conversation

I’m away in France. While I’m away, Church and Pomo Blog posted a review I wrote on Kevin Corcoran’s recently edited book Church in the Present Tense. My post is entitled “What Has Become of the Emerging Church?: The Problem of a Never Ending Discussion.” You can find it HERE. Kevin’s book is a good one because it draws together a diverse group of essays/ essayists that engage some of the key issues that have driven the founding and continuation of the emerging church movement. I think the book (in some sense) was meant to critically reflect upon “what has become of the emerging church?” Hence it’s tag line “A Candid Look at what’s Emerging.” I think therefore that one way you can read the book is as a status report on the state of the emerging church.
My suggestion in this post is that the articles in this book (can be read to) point to the nagging problem that the emerging church’s theological and philosophical drivers inherently produce “never ending tolerant conversations” that provoke existing institutional churches into self-examination (which is a good thing), but in the end accomplish little to change those structures, or produce new communities that become new expressions of the gospel. Emerging church, I am afraid, sucks us in to a land of never ending conversation.

I admit this is a tired argument. People have been saying this for a while. So I’m just putting it out there for discussion. I think that “never ending conversation” is a tendency of the emerging church (especially in the States) because emerging church is good at deconstructing and providing some general challenges to live a different gospel (love driven). This is what I have loved and do love about the emerging church. But it provides little for on the ground progress on the difficult issues of the day. It is too often attached to an inclusivism/tolerance that seeks to protect the autonomy of the individual and keep “disputed matters” at the conceptual level as opposed to on-the-ground practices of reconciliation, restoration, eucharist, discernment of righteousness grounded determinatively in the person and work of Jesus Christ. But this is typical of all American Christianity, isn’t it?

Do you see emerging church in this way? Yes or No? If yes, why do you think this is so?

I’m in France this week and next with Rae and Max. So my comments on this post will be spotty at best (Sorry). We’re working with a group of missionaries in France (C&MA) leading discussions on church, mission, post-Christendom and post-modernity. We hope to learn much from each other in a week long forum. In the meantime please (especially all my emergent brothers and sisters) don’t hesitate to clarify for me the gist of this post!!

On Sunday July 31st, 1530 hrs (3:30 p.m.), I’ll be preaching at Trinity International Church in Paris. If anyone’s around … check in won’t you?

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