The Tony Jones Blog at Patheos
Dave writes…..The great promise of emergent, I believed, was to marry the entrepreneurial spirit of emergent practitioners (and yes, that Evangelical background drives a lot of that entrepreneurship), with the stability and history of the mainline churches…..
Having spent 5 years of my life engaging in that wedding…party ?…I must say from my own experience it too often feels like wedding crashers. What I saw was a culture clash that typically patronized those from outside the mainline, minimizing their emerging energy & non-traditional vision in contrast to the priviledge & tradition housed in legacy institutions.
These two strands – innovation & tradition – are dependent upon one another, but I fear for what Dave calls the mainline tradition. Too often, their posture seems to be “welcoming others to the table”, a table they feel entitled to. The history of Jesus followers is like a river, that flows thru traditions AND around them.
I so wish that all threads of Jesus followers could take heed from the words of Oscar Romero:
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is Godâ€™s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the churchâ€™s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for Godâ€™s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.
you know…hmmm. I can resonate with what paisley is saying because I have thought some of the same things. there is a sense in which emerging church folks can *sound* fairly obnoxious–I’d say it’s more the case in writing than in person–and that’s at some level because they’re threatening. my perspective has changed, though, because I now understand the impulse of folks involved in emergent as fundamentally about creating conversation. I’ve brought some critique as far as the role of tradition to this blog (at least once, I think) and to you, Tony, in email and have raised it in other discussion about emergent Christianity offline. but that’s ultimately because I’ve felt invited to the conversation, even as a sometimes critical voice. I think that’s really powerful. I don’t often feel invited to theological discussion, even though I have a master’s in theology and most of a phd in religion.
and actually, conversation is the reason promoting books and events is important–that’s how and where the conversation continues and how it can include the broadest swath of people. And I’d concur with Tony, it absolutely isn’t about one voice although I hope ya’ll hear the critique that there is the danger that it will become about one voice or a small cadre of elite voices. not that anybody wants that. just saying. just like I hope (and believe) that you hear the critique that endless pot-stirring can be counterproductive after a certain point.
I don’t think Dave was right in saying that EV “does little to help the actual people doing the work of church in emerging contexts.” I also don’t agree that the promise of the ec movement is the fusion between “the entrepreneurial spirit of emergent practitioners, with the stability and history of the mainline churches.” Didn’t the movement “emerge” largely out of widespread disillusionment with traditional churches? People started recognizing and speaking out against problems with the mainline churches. Thoughtful critique of traditional churches seems to me as central to the ec movement.
However, I think there is a problem when an organization such as EV as power concentrated in only a few charismatic, well-known, and/or highly educated individuals. I don’t know much about the internal workings of EV, but I think it is important to not allow the dialogue and positions of the ec movement to be controlled primarily by the core (founding?) members and others in the periphery that align themselves with the core members. If EV considers itself an association of all people that feel part of the ec movement, I wonder if there democratic processes that allow ordinary ec people (not just scholars or church leaders) to influence EV and choose it designated leaders?
Bottom line: he is just jealous.
Sorry Tony…it must be tough recieving comments that are grossly misquoting you. I look forward to reading your new book. Noah S.
Take great comfort that you and your old pal Mark Driscoll were both ripped in the same progressive-based blog
Here is a comparison of the verbal lashings you both received:
Against MD –
“Random, rootless church planting often leads to nothing but a cult of personality worship (see, for instance, Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill in Seattle)”
Against TJ –
“This is where I see Tony Jones’ comments about mainline churches needing to be redeemed or overthrown to be profoundly unfriendly, unloving and unhelpful.”
“EV seems to be positioning itself as primarily an event and book promoter”
And the award for most verbally lashed goes to… MD because the “C” word was used…
Influence has many colors. Don’t let anything stop you from knowing Jesus.
Although this seems like mostly another handy dandy blog bash I think there is a nugget of truth in it and that is the evangelicalism that one can see in the online conversation doesn’t make a mainliner and progressive feel safe in the conversation. Emerging concepts are happening all over the world and in most religions is it possible that we need to find a way to make our conversation safe or do we really need to have seperate convesations like angliemergent or presbymergent and if so when can we start a Uccemergent?
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