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Embarking Blog

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McKnight on emerging church

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Here are some of Scot McKnight's thoughts on the emerging church.  I'd like to hear what you think.  Not sure I fully agree, but these are interesting insights.  I've not hear the word post-evangelicalism lately... seems to be somewhat inflamatory.  I liked some of the things in the original book by that name by Tomlinson, but ultimately found myself feeling he was going too far.  (I do still consider myself to be orthodox).  I have had some good reading and help with from the Post-conservatives - many of whom I would label post-evangelicals.  Maybe a better way to think about this rather than in the post-language or in the emerging language, for me much of the question is around the future of evangelicalism.  In any case, you can find this article at Alternet

Evangelicalism changed the face of America. Predictably the change is not permanent and the next phase is setting in.

Church historians and sociologists are now talking about post-Evangelicalism. The most popular buzz term is the emerging church. Change is constant and the American religious scene is not static...

Scot McKnight, Professor of Religious Studies at North Park University, has been studying the phenomenon that is pervasive, but as yet little noticed by the general public.  He calls the change ironic...

Dr. McKnight identifies eight characteristics of the emerging church. In condensed form I am sharing his observations:

  1. First, emergents cannot accept the idea of Bible inerrancy. 
  2. Emergents have come to believe that the gospel that they have been taught is a caricature of the message of Jesus, rather than the real thing. 
  3. Exposure to science in public education, universities and personal studies has led emergents to disown the conclusion that when the Bible and science appear to collide, science must take a back seat to the Bible.  In this conflict, emergents are not abandoning the Bible, but are raising critical questions about the Bible's nature and content. 
  4. Emergents have become disillusioned by the clay feet of church leadership. It is not just the Jim Bakkers and the Jimmy Swaggarts, but the rank and file of church leadership. 
  5. Emergents... want a much broader definition of what it means to be accepted in the family of God.
  6. Emergents are insisting that God be understood as totally gracious and loving. The angry, vengeful God that is sometime presented in both Old and New Testaments is not acceptable. 
  7. Acceptance of homosexuals in the family of God is common. Being pro-gay or anti-gay is not the issue. Emergents recognize that sexuality is far more complex than is generally recognized. To live in harmony with gay and lesbian friends and family members is a part of the emergent's perspective.
  8. Echoing the first named characteristic, emergents recognize the role that language plays in their understanding and practice of the Christian Faith. Theology is language bound. Language is a limited tool of communication.  If theology is language bound, it is also culturally shaped. To be rigidly exclusive does not make sense to emergent Christians.

What do you think?  If you consider yourself part of the emerging church, are these true of you?  If you're not part of the emerging church, what is your reaction?

I think this is an interesting list that bears conversation and thought.  I think it's a bit simplistic, but it is helpful and does describe much of the emerging church, which if you know me you know that I think it's a pretty wide and diverse and decentralized experience of a changing culture rather than a centralized movement with consistent beliefs, leaders, or agendas.  That's why the Emergent Church has called itself a conversation.


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