UPDATE: The Burner Thinks This Article is Extremely Interesting

Apr 13, 12 • Culture, Emerging Church2 Comments

UPDATE: It looks like others no-likey this article.

Yes, The Burner published something from theAtlantic earlier this week. TB is terribly sorry.

This article about Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell (yes, the guy that went public with OT-prophet levels of strange behavior crazy) is instead more fascinating about what journalist Josh Kron writes about the “Emerging Church.”

Kron wants to describe the moniker ‘Emerging Church’ as one would a denomination. But everybody who’s anybody knows that the “emerging church” is just…not regular church, man. It’s almost like trying to define a hipster–something that every urban dweller under 3o wants to be but nobody wants to be labeled.

Here are the relevant paragraphs about the stereotypical EC:

The group [Invisible Children] is a product, and perhaps the most successful manifestation of, a little-known, ultra-liberal, and highly controversial post-Evangelical Christian movement known as the Emerging Church…

Brian McLaren and Donald Miller are two authors and Christian theologians closely associated with the Emerging Church movement in the United States.  McLaren was once named one of the most influential evangelicals in America by Time. Miller sits on an Obama White House taskforce on family values.

But then Kron seems to find a pretty good description of the Emerging Church, even if it goes against his description above:

The Emerging Church has no formal organization, no single leader, and no uniform code of belief. It’s part of a larger Generation-Y of disillusioned youth looking for a cooler, more accessible brand of Christianity for the 21st century.

At the heart of the movement is the growing perception that mainstream, organized Christianity is not only fundamentally flawed, with its dictates and rigid doctrines and inherently negative and insecure worldview, as many Emerging Church adherents see it, but that it follows a false gospel. Some wouldn’t mind seeing the Vatican collapse.

Contemporary institutional religion, as opposed to “redemption,” is “the most disgusting false gospel in the world!” Pastor Mark Driscoll, who identifies himself as an Emerging Liberal [wait, what?--TB], declared in a sermon on YouTube. “Religious people are the ones murdering Jesus.”

The Emerging Church preaches, in its uniquely deconstructionist way,  what it claims is Jesus Christ’s original, true message, seemingly lost long ago: that God lives in each person, that the Kingdom of Heaven is here on Earth now, and that faith is not belief but an action and spiritual state of being to be experienced creatively, through human relationships, and by raising questions.

“There are a lot of us who would agree that we need to re-focus on Jesus’s core message, which is very, very different from what a lot of Christians have focused on,” Brian McLaren told me in a recent interview. Members of the movement don’t necessarily seek the answer to life’s questions or even believe those answers necessarily exist. “It has a lot more to do with what is God’s will for the planet, and how do we human beings start cooperating and addressing each other.”

A member of the Emerging Church movement might not believe in a literal hell. He or she might question final judgment or the significance of the cross. An Emerging Church might look like a living room of sofas arranged in a circle, as does Solomon’s Porch in Minnesota, instead of pews in rows.  A DJ might play ambient music while “gatherers” partake in a “discussion” rather than listen to a sermon…

This is the first article from a reputable and widely-read publication The Burner has read that attempts to define and reference the emerging church movement. But Kron buries maybe the most important and newsworthy aspect of the emerging churches’ contribution–uniting disparate parties:

Even within the Invisible Children organization itself, a surprising blend of liberal and conservative have come together. Of Invisible Children’s four independent board members, one is an openly gay pastor (and the head of an Emerging Church); another donated to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage.

If the ‘emerging church’ can heal a fraction of the fractures in our faith families, then TB will grant the movement Captialization.

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2 Responses to UPDATE: The Burner Thinks This Article is Extremely Interesting

  1. Wait, what?  “Little-known” and “ultra-liberal”?  According to what comparison?  Compared to the SBC, perhaps, but certainly not by the standards of most mainline churches, and certainly not by the kind of evangelicalism that describes Fuller (which I regularly have to defend against folks who think it’s right-wing). (Some “Emerging” churches having gay pastors notwithstanding)

    And ANYONE who thinks of Driscoll as liberal is clearly either not paying attention, or is SO far on the right-wing themselves that they have lost all ability to communicate coherently with the rest of the human race.  (Which, at the risk of sounding uncharitable, I do sometimes think is indeed true of Driscoll… either one of those definitions actually works pretty well)

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