Emergent Church: Lacking “a Focus on Issues of Class”?

An excerpt from the new book:

Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude
By Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-lan
Hardback: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012.
Page 122.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

HT: Ric Hudgens for pointing out this passage
(Ric is working on a review of this book for The Englewood Review of Books)

Generally speaking, these words ring true in my experience of the emergent church.  What do you think?  Is it possible that race and class can become more prominent issues within Emergent Christianity?

  • http://www.facebook.com/miketodd07 Mike Todd

    In your closing 2 sentences you used 2 different terms. Emerging Church I have no interest in. Now Emerging Christianity sounds like something I can get behind. We don’t need a new way of doing church, we need a new way of following Jesus. Otherwise we’re just doing that “deck chairs on the Titanic” thing.

    • http://twitter.com/nathanmileslund Nathan M. Lundgren

      “[W]e need a new way of following Jesus” – I couldn’t agree more, but I find it interesting that we have the opposite reaction to those two terms. To me, the Church (capital ‘C’) is the community, spanning history and geography, committed to following Jesus the Messiah. The Church is people, never a program or a building. It’s that other set of labels, Christ-ian/-ity/-endom, that give me pause. Despite their well-intentioned origin in Antioch, they have by now been so consistently misapplied that they signify nothing.

  • http://twitter.com/arkychicky Kimberly Roth

    I absolutely think discussions of privilege & oppression, race & class, must become more prominent within Emergent Christianity. And that door is being opened. My friend Rebekah wrote an excellent post earlier this year on what the church can learn from Occupy:
    Which inspired the second of what we hope will become an ongoing series of Open Conversations:
    The next Open Conversation will actually be centered around Chris Crass’s book “Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy” which several of us are reading. (Really looking forward to getting my hands on the “Occupy Religion” book.)

  • http://twitter.com/arkychicky Kimberly Roth

    Also, at the recent TransFORM gathering, Holly Roach & Steve Knight led a really provoking workshop on privilege & oppression. There was also an open space workshop where some of us got together to flesh out what “open & affirming” really looks like in the church and how issues of privilege & power play into that.

  • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

    Yes, this is absolutely true, and we have important work to do yet around this. But I’m encouraged because I’m beginning to see this happening more and more. Just as another example, Wild Goose Festival is one of the spaces where these hierarchies of power and privilege are being addressed in really intentional ways.

  • http://www.rdhudgens.net/ Ric Hudgens

    These were a few of my thoughts from a blog post on Emergence last October: “The kind of racial reconciliation work that I think many in the emergent movement long for is not going to happen through worship renewal, new forms of ministry, or catchy websites. It will happen through engagement with the material aspects of existence: new models of local interracial community, alternative economics, and creative and confrontational social activism. Engaging “empire” in its socio-economic manifestations is crucial to real change.

    This will mean the disruption of white Christianity’s comfortable alliance with capitalism, suburbia, and even (I believe) emergent technologies. I doubt that “convergence Christianity” (or perhaps Wild Goose Festivals) can survive such disruption. But that is perhaps what Jesus is talking about when he warns that in order to save our lives we must lose them.”



  • http://www.facebook.com/philaud Phil Aud

    I appreciate the excerpt. I read all of the time of how the church is facing this massive shift. This many be true, however, Philip Jenkins (in “The Next Christendom”) reminds us that when we think of a typical Christian today “we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a Brazilian favela”. He warns, “This global perspective should make us think carefully before asserting ‘what Christians believe’ or ‘how the church is changing.’ I don’t think the issues of race and power will be adequately addressed and lived out until we begin to allow other voices from other cultures into the “conversation”. Perhaps some of our hot button theological issues are actually non-issues in many places (even the majority of places) in the world, and we are blind to some of the issues that really matter.

    Just curious – can anyone name an emergent church leader who is not from the Europe or North America?