The Ongoing Witness of the Emerging Church

Emergent is dead. Long live Emergent.

Like me, you may occasionally hear comments like this: “The emerging church is dead, and it had no long-lasting impact.” It’s similar to people telling you that no one is doing postmodern philosophy at universities anymore.

Both are patently false. Things have changed, to be sure. Philosophical and ecclesial fashions change, and others take a run at making headlines. But the excitement building around this week’s Subverting the Norm conference just goes to show that both postmodern philosophy and emergent church still have traction.

Two recently released books show more than anything else that the emerging church movement has an ongoing legacy in today’s church:

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A Flat Church in Action

If I had the chance to do my dissertation research today, instead of 2005, there are a few other churches I’d use in the study. One of them would surely be Common Table in Washington, D.C., where Mike Stavlund and Co. are doing what they can to embody the flat church that I hope for in my latest book. Here’s a something Mike wrote recently for the Emergent Village Blog:

Mike Stavlund

Listening to a recent ‘On Being’ podcast with the venerable and feisty Walter Brueggemann, I was struck by what seems at first to be rank overstatement.  His contention is that the ancient Hebrew ‘prophetic/poetic messengers’ serve to critique everything:  all political, social, and religious systems. In Brueggemann’s opinion, the worst thing we can do with these Biblical messages is to organize them, domesticate them, and to “create another ‘ism’”.

Surely, part of the reason emergence churches like Common Table don’t get more organized is because we lack that kind of drive and motivation.   We might get around to establishing a denomination, if we had the time to do it.  We might try to create some kind of legacy, it it wasn’t such a burdensome project.  No, we’re too busy with Twitter, Facebook, fixing our hair, and with finding the perfect hipster glasses to get much done.

via A Seat at The Table: Keep it Wild | Emergent Village.

Didache Blog Tour – Day Six, Chapter Seven

The Four Riders of the Apocalypse by Albrect Durer

A couple more bloggers have written up the final chapter (“The End Is Nigh”) in The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community.  They both point to modern apocalyptic media to elucidate the brief apocalypse at the end of the Didache.

Mike Stavlund writes of a professor assigning the Lord of the Flies in an effort to introduce undergrads to the metaphorical power of apocalypses.  He then writes,

Taking a mere 20 minutes to read aloud, the Didache is refreshingly simple.  It is less about studying, and more about living.  Less about preaching, and more about practicalities.  And it leans away from Paul’s seeming perfectionism toward an ethical system that is much more manageable– ‘do the best you can‘ is a dictum that is mentioned more than once.

So when the Didache community considered the end of the story, and all of the apocalyptic prognostication that existed then (just as now), they were refreshingly truncated in their advice.  Stay faithful.  Be true.  And (as Tony summarizes), God wins.

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