defining the emerging church

While the term “Emerging Church” is increasingly being employed to describe what would appear to be a well defined and doctrinally unified movement, the phrase actually belies a fragile embryonic and theologically diverse conversation. So what, if anything, unifies this conversation, and is it possible to predict whether it will have any impact on the wider religious community? This conversation houses a contemporary, yet deeply ancient approach to faith that has the potential of revolutionizing the theological and moral architecture of the Christian community. The problem with attempting to describe what the emerging community actually is relates to its kinetic nature, a nature that consequently defies reduction to a single set of exhaustive theological doctrines. This diversity prevents us from describing the conversation as a new church or denomination. This disparate network of communities is not some object that can be dissected by scavenging academics who would wish to pin it down and label it like a lepidopterist does with dead insects. Those involved within the emergent conversation are not explicitly attempting to construct or unearth a different set of beliefs, but rather are looking at the way in which we believe the beliefs we profess.

Let us imagine being in a museum and contemplating an artwork. The piece of art offers us a type of revelation, for it stands before us and communicates a message to us. However, this does not mean that its message is simple, singular, or able to be mastered. For, at the same time it communicates, its message remains concealed, elusive, and fluid. In a similar way, the revelation of God could be fruitfully compared to the way that a parable speaks to those with ears to hear. The parable is given to us, but at the same time its meaning is withheld. It is not reducible to some clear, singular, scientific formula. Hence, revelation neither makes God known, nor leaves God unknown, but rather renders God known as unknown.

– Pete Rollins

One Reply to “defining the emerging church”

  1. My dad and I were discussing Brian McLaren today, and he asked me about the emergent mov’t. And I had an incredibly difficult time describing it, because it makes sense in your head, but I’m not much of an apologetic for it. And then I started getting bogged down in modernism vs. post modernism and it was just a totally lost cause. I told him to just listen to Brian McLaren and he’d figure it out…hahah.

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