The Big Questions

I’m currently working on a book about the emergent/ing church, and I’m trying to be true to what’s really going on. I also want to attempt to answer some of the questions that linger for people, both supporters and opponents.

So, what are your questions about the emergent church?

  • justfranks

    One question that comes to my mind is where did the emergent come from? Where is it going and what would it take to be apart of the emergent. I will be honest i really like what you have said. I am a semianry student and i know that i am not going to get much emergent at my semianry. I want to spend some time learneing about it, but do not know an approach to be able to learn more.

  • Vitamin Z

    I would be interested to know what approach you take to hermenutics and why. In terms of Christianity, how we deal with the Bible and apply it to our lives seems to be an issue of utmost importance.

  • Matt

    My questions lie mostly on the praxis end of things. Are people actually coming to faith in EC communities? As in, people who did not previously believe, not just a recycling of jaded Christians from one form to another.

  • Anonymous

    According to the ECM epistemology…(1) What must a Christian tell an elderly person [or a younger person] who is dying [in the hospital or otherwise] in order for them to have an understanding of what must happen in order for them to be saved from eternal physical/conscious hell?(2) What is a Christian?In ChristNoah

  • art

    What holds the emerging movement together? I think one of the faults of it’s critics is that they tend to critique it along theological lines. Perhaps showing how the emerging movement is not a theological movement but an ecclesiological movement would help.What areas of the emerging movement’s ecclesiology is a helpful corrective to evangelicalism? What areas are they weak?

  • johnnybrower

    is the emerging church moving toward a denominational status?i know it was originally intented to…but it seems that it’s moving that way.much love…johnny!

  • Stephen

    Tony, do you plan to be descriptive, proscriptive or both? To the extent that you intend to be the former:- what is the gospel?- what is the kingdom?- how are you doing evangelism?- how do you measure the success of your evangelism?- by that criterion (or criteria), is your evangelism successful?- what are your resonances with the emerging church conversation? or why do you consider yourself ec?- if you could change one thing about the ec, what would it be?- who are your primary thoughtleaders in the conversation?hth

  • Cindy

    Tony, I see that you’re being overwhelmed with questions, but I wanted add that right now my biggest questions are regarding the relastionship between emerging churches/people and existing denominations. I am tentatively planning to attend the seminar in Atlanta in January, and hope to get some insight into this at that time. I don’t want it to become an us v. them situation, but that seems to be occurring in so many venues. How can we prevent this division?

  • Mark Van Steenwyk

    What is the relationship between Emergent and denominations/denominational identity/theological traditions?

  • david rudd

    a lot of emergentesque books have been written.will there be any biblical commentaries? why or why not?

  • Ben P.

    here are my questions, coming from more of a critic’s viewpoint:how can we be missional without being relativistic?how can we take orthopraxy and the cultural context seriously without undermining the meaning of the biblical text?how can we separate ourselves from our own postmodern cultural leanings and make sure we aren’t reading that into our view of Christianity?how can we look at all the different theological perspectives seriously without essenitally poo-poo-ing what has been carved out as “orthodoxy” over the years?

  • Ben P.

    I thought of one more:How can we take the social concern implications of the Gospel seriously without compromising the the Gospel (and by this I mean salvation by faith through Christ alone and not works)? and, conversely,How can we take the Gospel seriously without becoming individualistic, selfish and lacking genuine social concern?

  • Anonymous

    1) Will the amount of discussion going on ever be matched by the number of churches following the new thought processes?2) Where does the emergence of… emergent/ing church thought leave theologians? Hauerwas, Grenz, and others have found room to continue, but what I see is the commonizing of theology. Not that it is bad, but are we seeing a shift in the crux of theology into the common (or at least more common) christian’s hands by way of communal theology?

  • snodblog

    With the shift in focus from salvation to discipleship I feel like we are leaving an important thing somewhat undefined. Where would emergent thought rest on the concept of salvation? (with regard to it being an immediate act… slow process… by faith alone)

  • David Williamson

    The Emerging Church imagines the exciting possibility of a dialogue which transcends the divisions of Left and Right and Liberal and Conservative – a place for people who like to read both Christianity Today and the Christian Century.But to what extent is it true that the conversation has in many ways been dominated by a mainline/post-liberal critique of evangelical theology and left-of-centre critique of Republican politics? Is there any likelihood, for example of a JI Packer-school theologian examining Moltmann’s view of the Cross within the emerging church? Would an ardent neoconservative be welcomed – not as a visitor but as a full participant – if the contribution they wished to make was to criticise Wallis/Campolo approach to international crises?Or, is Emergent travelling in the direction of becoming a loose affiliation of friendships uniting people who have been raised in an evangelical culture but are consciously distancing themselves from that theological framework, and the politics of conservative America? Thanks for asking!

  • Anthony J Stiff

    What nuances of hamarteology are present in the Emerging Churches conversation? How do they work themselves out in the important area’s of discipline and accountability?Or said differently, what does sin look like in postmodernity and postChristendom? What does missional church discipline look like?

  • Chris

    There are many good questions here. I wonder how many of our churches has them answered well. I would like to know how the average church answers most of these, not just those in the Emerginging coversation. Church discipline, hamratology, hermenutics, who is coming to Christ, what exactly is Christian faith need to be better answered in every church not run by the doctrinal figure heads of each movement/denomination. These are all good questions, just we need to relize that rarely do our churches (any of them) have good, informed answers to them.Grace and peace.

  • scott

    I attended your seminar in Austin at the NYWC and gathered that a part of the EC movement doesnt believe in absolute truth. (I could have misinterpreted that but I think is what i gathered) With that said, if there is no absolute truth what is the EC’s stance on Bible?

  • Nick

    Some questions I have wrestled with:1. In what sense do emerging Christians believe in the unity of Scripture? 2. Related to the above question: Is there a synthesis in the words of Scripture. If so, is uncovering it possible?3. Are there dangers in the emerging conversation? Sorry to sound like a Bible-bashing wing-nut on this one, but is it possible that the conversation gives a platform to those who will spread harmful things? I’m thinking in the light of 2 John v7-10 where believing in a different Jesus can disqualify us. Your brother in HimNick

  • Christian

    Others have differentiated emergent (with you as an acknowledged leader) from emerging which could even include a non-western premodern church in Africa or rural Asia. Do you intend emergent/ing to be differentiated?

  • Anonymous

    Where does the movement begin and end? What are its boundaries? Who is “in” and who is “out?” How does one decide such things?

  • John

    Some tend to interplay the terms “emergent” and “emerging” as if they were referring to the same thing. Why? As Dr. McKnight said recently, “…if you narrow the emerging movement to emergent village…you can probably dismiss this movement as a small fissure in the evangelical movement.” Shouldn’t we be using the term “emerging” or “emerging movement” when speaking of a broader, self-organizing, worldwide conversation? Perhaps the term “emergent” is better used in context of the “emergent village” organization?

  • DaNutz

    Will it end up being just the same thing with different music and cultural trimmings or will it be a real shift in theology that embraces postmodern and pluralistic world views that can not just keep Christianity alive but look to mend the broken relationships between all religions? Please say it is option B!

  • dom

    Hi Tony, i love reading your stuff. Thanks for all your work. I had a quick question concerning your work on Augustine’s Confessions. Would love to connect by email. I haven’t been able to find your email address, but if it’s cool with you here is mine, domruso@gmail.com Would love to hear from you.Dom

  • Anonymous

    How can the emergent conversation remain rooted as a community in the way of Jesus…blowing the intellectualized, Westernized, compartmentalized (inner emotions separated from physical reality)approach to Christianity out of the water…while avoiding becoming just another flavor of the social gospel?I guess what I’m saying is: not settling for less than the whole gospel, to the whole person, to the whole world (stealing from Imago Dei Community’s vision)…staying rooted in community and submission to God’s ways without being elitist.Your voice has been central in my confidence that there are leaders pursuing this very task. Keep up the pursuit, Tony!

  • Chase

    You mention your book concerning the emergent/ing Church. I understand some to say this movement is primarily not theological, but rather a movement concerning ecclesiology. Nonetheless, Beyond stating that you ascribe to the classic creeds, are there specific necessary beliefs (which must certainly flow to their living) that a group must embrace in order to truly be called the Church?

  • KJV

    Is the emergent church following scripture? Of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, which is the emergent church? Revelation 3:14-2214 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

  • The Millers

    Tony,Kenny here from Church/BWX. I’m up late tonight unable to sleep. The context for this thought comes from the Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren. The topic of the question is worldview. What are some of the challenges of forming the post-modern worldview to that of Jesus in the first centry.What are some of the ways that post-moderns are easily adapted to a world view similar to that of a first century Jesus.Second Topic: Authority of JesusAn important part of understanding the Story of Jesus has to do with understanding his authority. The type of authority he chose not to embody (temptation after 40 days of fasting) The type of authority that he taugh with and lived out. The authority that he had to push evil (spirits) aside. How does emerging theology converse about the authority of Jesus? More important. How as a believer, committed seeker, in a real way consumate the authority given to his believers to pray against evil and stand firm in rightouesness. Some thoughts for you, if you find them usefull great if not. No worries.

  • Drive-Thru Society

    My question is this, how much freedom do we really have to re-imagine new things? I know at the Porch we seem to have the freedom to do so, but I have been apart of other emergent communities that there has not been that freedom. They think all it means to be an emergent church is candels and a Chris Thomlan song.

  • John Santic

    Hi Tony,My questions (and forgive me if someone’s asked, I haven’t read all the comments) revolve arounf imagination, vision and eschatology. How are these three components handled within the emerging conversation?

  • David

    Hi Tony,I saw you at YS. Just to get the record straight and then I’ll ask my question – I was the one who said that my wife blogs with you…she doesn’t. But she does read emergant village daily! Thus my confusion.My question is this…Some people are saying that Emergent is just a fad that will fade. What say you? Is this a glimplse of what ‘mainline’ churches will look like in 20 years, or will it stay on a bit on the outside looking in?Loved your seminar. And loved that you had your son with you! My kids are with us when we speak at our service and it’s refreshing to see!Blessings Tony,David

  • Nathan

    How is authority and issues of church discipline fleshed out within the fluid, flattened, collaborative structures of community that tend to characterize the emerging church?

  • Nick

    Simply, is the Emergent Church a flavor or a recipe?

  • Ali Campbell

    If you are still reading these comments (!) – are we making disciples? People coming to faith can be a “tick box” thing, are we seeing people become disciples . . . – are we loving each other? People “loving each other” can be agenda ridden, are we unconditionally loving as we have been loved, and what kinds of expression of this love show that we belong to Christ?- are we pointing people to Jesus? Is it cool to be emerging church for “emerging church” sake, or are we about pointing people to Jesus?

  • Mike Morrell

    Are we going to continue dancing in rhythm with the Spirit, or are we going to go the way of bad commercialized rap music, getting all self-referential and stuff? Are we gonna be zeitgeist or paraclete?

  • St. Brianstine

    Why has the emergent “church” abandoned the true gospel of Christ?

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