Emergent Agnosticism

I have been struggling with classic depictions of God for the past several months. But I found great comfort in Tony Jones’s recent admission in regards to agnosticism or igtheism.

I’d be keen to hear what some of you agnostic and atheistic readers think of his essay. (For the record, I’m currently somewhere on the Christian agnosticism/igtheism spectrum.)

I am curious if there are others out there in Emergent Village that find similar tendencies in the midst of emergence.

Perhaps emergence takes us down a road of uncertainty and unknowing that is atypical of Christianity at large. Perhaps this is the freedom we have in relating to and living with a God that offers freedom. Perhaps emergence is not as concerned with the character of God and God’s interactivity in our individual lives.

Any thoughts? Does emergence lead you into a similar direction of agnosticism or igtheism?

  • http://skepticallyemerging.tumblr.com Rob Davis

    This has been an ongoing conversation between at least a few of us.

  • Chris Hill

    For me, I would say that I was going through my own inner paradigmatic shift (and still continue to do so) prior to knowing anything about emergence. I soon after began to discover that there was a term which applied to my somewhat shocking “discoveries,” if not about what actually is, at least about how I was beginning to view “my world” in a new, and now, exciting way (postmodernism). Now I am venturing into the “new” realm of what some call post-postmodernism. And what will be next?

  • Jeff Straka

    Emergen(t/ce) WAS my path out of theism and for that I am forever grateful!

  • http://michaeldbobo.com Michael D. Bobo

    Does non-dualistic thought appeal to any of you? I’ve heard Doug Pagitt on this and I’m tremendously curious about Hindu perceptions of Brahman as a world unifying force.

  • Jeff Straka

    Jesus, according to Rohr and Bourgeault, was the West’s first non-dual Wisdom teacher, and I fully agree! Non-duality is a second “operating system” that our brains/hearts (check out HeartMath Institute) have evolved to being able to “run”. I see it as our species way forward!

  • http:/dancingpastthedark.com Nan Bush

    The kinds of changes being discussed in these threads can be a lot less scary when seen in the context of normal stages of maturing in one’s beliefs. I seriously recommend that anyone active in emergence read up on the developmental stages of faith.
    For the briefest of introductions, see the chart here:
    http://www.usefulcharts.com/psychology/james-fowler-stages-of-faith.html
    or online summaries such as this:
    http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/fowler.htm

    • http://michaeldbobo.com Michael D. Bobo

      Nan, I’m a huge Fowler fan. You’re the first person I’ve encountered who is likewise an admirer of his work. Thanks for the links and I totally agree, but it sounds so arrogant to claim a higher number. Do you ever feel that way? I’m between stages 4 and 5 right now. I would never claim to be a 6, but I get it and I admire those who have achieved such spiritual development.

      • http:/dancingpastthedark.com Nan Bush

        Thanks, Michael. It seems to me that the difference between numbering the stages and giving them some sort of non-hierarchical-sounding number is kind of like calling ability groups Robins and Sparrows. The difference is not in the inherent value of the individuals but in something definitive about their level of development or achievement, which the kids know perfectly well, no matter how politely the adults try to name them. One stage is not valued higher than another, though each has its own advantages and dangers; they simply represent different places on the maturation line. Maybe if we think of stages as bus stops?

        It seems a very small price to pay for the clarity of recognizing that the majority of people operate at level 2 or 3, and they see the ideas of levels 4 and 5 as outside their norm–as “not Christianity” or at best heretical. For all the folks reading these blogs who are agonizing over the transition, it could make a huge difference in their suffering to know that they aren’t leaving Christianity, not necessarily becoming genuinely agnostic or atheistic or igtheistic; they’re likely to be simply *emerging* to a different understanding of Christian faith.

        • http://michaeldbobo.com Michael D. Bobo

          Nan,
          You are so right. I have left the church emotionally when I entered stage 4 nearly 10 years ago. Moving into Stage 5 means forums like EV and Emerging groups are my best opportunity to discover others who embrace a broader understanding of Christianity that is not threatened by the world’s religions. And, even seek to better understand them in order to improve our own expressions of faith. Thank you so much for your insight and your wisdom. Peace to you.

  • Erica B.

    It seems to me that there is much difference between igtheism (which is ignosticism correct?) and agnosticism. Or that the difference is a matter of splitting hairs. What is everyone else’s understanding?

    Also, I read that a christian agnostic is distinct from a christian who is agnostic. How so??

    • erica

      Oops. I meant “that there ISN’T much difference” in the first sentence!

    • http://skepticallyemerging.tumblr.com Rob Davis

      Erica, I think all of these terms have many definitions. I think a lot of times it really depends on who is using it.


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