The 2006 edition contains an essay by Eileen W. Lindner on “Postmodern Christianity: Emergent Church and Blogs” (pp. 15-20). The EC and the religious section of the blogosphere are grouped together because, as the author says, they are “two interconnected phenomena of a new century.”
Regarding the Emergent Church, Lindner says that this “many-faceted expression of Christian faith” typically thinks and speaks of itself as a “conversation,” rather than a “movement.” Nevertheless, she thinks that the word “movement” certainly describes what the EC has become.
But what exactly is the conversation or movement about? Fueled by a distinctively postmodern outlook, says Lindner, the EC “centers around deconstructing inherited faith and practice and reconstructing a Christianity” that is apparently focused on four points or ideas (and here I both quote and rephrase a little):
1. Christocentrism -- following closely and emulating the person and ministry of Jesus.
2. Narrative theology – according to which truth is found in story, not in propositional statements or traditional doctrinal standards.
3. Missiological focus -- which challenges existing forms of church life and discipleship, emphasizing service to a broken world.
4. Responsive worship forms – the place of worship is central to the EC drawing from apostolic as well as contemporary sources to forge a diverse worship through experimentation.
So much for what they’re about, who is the emerging church? Prominent people, says the author, tend to come from “evangelical protestant backgrounds with an age cohort largely in their 20s and 30s.” Lindner points to the Wikipedia entry for Emergent Church which provides a list of “Pioneers in the Emerging Church Movement”:
- Brian McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church near Washington, D.C.
- Doug Pagitt, founding pastor of Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis
- Dan Kimball, founder of the Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA
- John O’Keefe, founder of http://www.ginkworld.net/
- Spencer Burke, former pastor, founder of http://theooze.com/
- Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University
- Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
- Mark Pearson, founder of Cityside in Aukland, New Zealand
- Karen Ward, founder and pastor of Church of the Apostles in Seattle, WA
More about this beginning next week. But to this point, I’m curious to hear what you think of Lindner’s analysis. What might you add or change?
Also, although I’ve gotten a feel (by reading blogs) for how the Churches of Christ are interacting with and participating in the EC, I’d like to hear from people who have lived among and/or studied the conservative heirs of Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell. In what ways does the EC movement dovetail with and/or correct our Restorationist tradition?