The comments of Anthony here and others at the Emergent blog are not surprising. I’ve spent a lot of time considering why the conservative Reformed crowd is so concerned about Emergent thinking and theology. I have all sorts of ideas why, but I don’t think I’m willing to state them publicly until I think them through some more.
But it’s clear that other Reformed folks are friendly toward Emergent. There’s the Calvin College crowd (like Jamie Smith), the Kuyperians (like Vince Bacote (see also this)), and even the Barthian-Hauerwasians (like the Ecclesia Project (Geoff Holsclaws is an example). I’m cautioned a lot by these folks not to allow the most conservative forces to define Reformed thought. (But it’s interesting to note that in this month’s Christianity Today cover article on young people who are joining the Reformed movement(s), there was nary a word about Karl Barth or Calvin College or the PC(USA). The entire article was about the right wing of the Reformed movement.)
The irony may be that I am pretty Reformed in my understanding of God. For instance, I believe that the agency of God is in no way contingent upon the agency of humans. That is, God freely acts however God chooses, regardless of human activity. God may choose to respond to human activity (like prayer), but it is not incumbent upon God to do so. That sounds Reformed to me!
What I find especially disheartening is the clear misrepresentations of Emergent Village that come from the conservative Reformed circles. Those guys say that we don’t care about doctrine (untrue), that politics is more important to us than theology (untrue), that we water down the Bible (untrue), etc. I could go on and on. I do wonder about these criticisms, because I just don’t hear these sentiments within Emergent. And, I am quite sure that most of these critics have never read a word that I’ve written.
My challenge to the other Reformed folks out there is to start speaking out. For instance, why doesn’t Jamie or Geoff or someone else write a blog post laying out the entire landscape of Reformed thought as it’s currently playing out in the American church?