In “A Changed Man” I said I wanted to make “this new/old way of looking at Christianity accessible to those that are struggling with “cognitive dissonance” so that they don’t have to go through all the crap I did to get here.” So, what am I talking about? Basically, progressive Christianity, the emerging church and emergence Christianity. Yesterday, I told you a little about progressive Christianity, so today’s focus is on the emerging church and emergence Christianity. If you think these two are the same thing, don’t worry, so did I. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of mixing them up. Use the wrong term on the wrong person and, at best, you’re in for lecture on the differences. At worst, they may want to pray for you. Why is that bad? As my father used to say “They might pray for something I don’t want”.
Google “emerging vs emergence” and most of what you’ll find concerns the conservative evangelical view of the difference between the emerging church and churches of the Emergent Village community. Once upon a time, things may have been that black and white, but not anymore. There is more than one stream of Christianity arising out of post-modern ways of thinking, but there are more than two; if, in fact, that was ever the case. As is pointed out by a Scott McKnight article titled “The Five Streams of the Emerging Church“, it’s not that easy.
There is a difference between emerging churches, Emergent Village churches and emergence Christianity, but you can’t boil it down to “this is right and this heresy” as some more conservative types like to do. Here’s a quick and dirty guide:
- Emerging churches are churches that hold standard orthodox beliefs and are attempting to reach into postmodern culture using cutting edge music, technology and art forms to do so.
- Emergent Village is as close to a denomination as you’re going to get out of post-moderns these days. They do have an organization and a list of values and practices, but that’s about it. And, of course, you can send them money. Can’t forget about that.
- Emergence Christianity is harder to describe. Hell, I consider myself an emergence Christian and I’m not sure how to describe it. To really get a handle on this, I suggest you read a couple of books by the grand dame of Emergence, Phyllis Tickle: “The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why” and “Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters“. There is a ton of information in these two books, but Ms. Phyllis (that’s as familiar as my southern upbringing will allow) presents it in such way that you might be overwhelmed, but you’ll never be bored. For a shorter explanation, emergence Christianity is the umbrella over a very diverse set of ideas that tend to be rather progressive.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some parallels between these diverse groups.