Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Evangelicals and the Great Tradition: Part 2

What is the emergent movement, anyway?

Jason Clark, coordinator of Emergent-UK, and Holly Rankin Zaher, also a player in the emergent movement, took turns mapping out the territory in the first presentation at the “Ancient Wisdom, Anglican Futures” conference at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, June 4–6 (reporting: Patricia Hanlon).

Jason stated that less than 2 percent of the population in the UK regularly attends church—it’s a “wasteland of a secular postmodern context.” That’s why the emergent movement has entered the scene—precisely because the institutional church was not reaching people. He sees in the emergent movement “the response of the Holy Spirit through all denominations to the changes in the culture. There’s a stream that has come about consciously among charismatics and evangelicals that something is not right. Intellectual assent in propositional prayers so we go to heaven when we die—isn’t Christianity more than that? We’re finding a space to discover that.”
Holly described the emergent church (EC) as a response to four changes in culture: consumerism, information technologies, globalism and celebrity culture. “These four factors shape how we are responding,” she said. “The missional church is asking—instead of being attractional, how can we be missional? Our Christology shapes our missiology and our missiology shapes our ecclesiology. Dymanic tension between the three factors (Christology, missiology and ecclesiology) is at play. Different streams in the emergent movement gravitate toward one or the other.”

Holly identified these values of the EC:
• identify with the life of Jesus—a high view of Scripture
• transform the secular realm
• live highly communal lives
• welcome the stranger
• serve with generosity
• participate as producers
• create as created beings
• lead as a body
• take part in spiritual activities

She also referred to a number of subsets of the emergent movement:
• neomonastics
• neocalvinists (Tim Keller, et. al.)
• neo-Anabaptists
• neo-missiologists (Christine Schwartz, Wolfgang Simpson)
• digital Pentecostals
• neo-liberals

Next post: Problems with the emergent movement.

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