Permeable walls abounding

Permeable walls abounding April 19, 2005

Issue #7: A strength with a weakness: permeable walls abounding

I find the “permeable walls” (they are not strong, solid, or thick) of the Emergent movement a breath of fresh air. It reminds of Jesus’ table fellowship where people could be with him, could be near him, could sit down right next to him, and the gradation was possible because the structures were there that enabled that to occur. Emergent folks are working out permeable walls. I worry about too many permeable walls – not only between church and world but between truth and non-truth, between what is gospel and what is not quite gospel, between what is just in the Christian sense (I blogged on this one) and what is merely social justice (and I know this is an important issue and I don’t want to demean any attempt at justice and that all justice is God’s justice but when justice is not connected to Christ it is no longer holistic in a Christian sense). So, the question (it took me long enough) is this: are there too many permeable walls? Do we need some firmer walls and some permeable walls?

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  • And what grid should we use to determining which walls should be less permeable and which should be more?To use Charles Kraft’s analogy in “Christianity in Culture”, what is the “tether” that defines thus far and no farther?

  • What are your thoughts on a move from a bounded set to centered set approach? Frost & Hirsch talk about this in Shaping of Things To Come, but I’ve seen it elsewhere. There’s a good post on it at NextReformation: haven’t given a lot of thought to how the conception would work in practice (as I recall Frost & Hirsch do some of this, but it’s been a while) but I find it intriguing in theory.

  • Lots of great articles…including by Frost and Hirsch..on moving from bounded to centered setshere