Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Emerging vs. Emergent

I'll try to keep this highly controversial topic short, even though people in my vocation can get fired by people who don't know the difference.

Although some may say these two are the same, conservatives would beg to differ.

Emerging would focus on the emphasis of missional living, decentralized organization, and a less confrontational approach to evangelism (i.e. Rob Bell's "Bullhorn" Nooma).

Emergent, however, would add liberal doctrines and morals that could be associated with the emergent village on top of what is "emerging". They believe that certainty in faith is not achievable. Some would say this leads to a toleration of non-negotiable truths that are essential.

Evangelicals would state that the doctrine and theology of "emergent" is pretty much heresy, while "emerging" is not truly a theology, but rather a methodology to apply the theology that has stood the test of time.

I better stop before I get going. Does that help or confuse you? Did I miss type something? What's your thought.....Micah, Tim, anyone....what do you think?

IU Football 1-0!!!


tfounds said...

I'm just curious where you got your definitions for emerging and emergent? What sort of "liberal doctrines and morals" are associated with emergent? ...just curious.

Phil Strahm said...

Well, Tim....one that easily comes to mind would be absolute truth, or the lack thereof.

I'm no expert though...it's hard to define emerging since it is not attached to any central organization.

Emergent could be associated with the Emergent Village and your boy Brian McLaren.

Many people fail to attach the difference between the two words.

J Fry said...
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J Fry said...

i feel like i appreciate your "emerging" definition, but am unsure exactly how i feel about your "emergent" definition. I went to The Emergent Village and this is what I pulled off their site: "In English, the word “emergent” is normally an adjective meaning coming into view, arising from, occurring unexpectedly, requiring immediate action (hence its relation to “emergency”), characterized by evolutionary emergence, or crossing a boundary (as between water and air). All of these meanings resonate with the spirit and vision of Emergent Village." How helpful is that? not very informative to me. so i checked out theopedia.com (not sure how reliable it is) and it said this: "A group of Emergent leaders states it this way: 'We each find great joy and promise in dialogue and conversation... Throughout the history of the church, followers of Jesus have come to know what they believe and how they believe it by being open to the honest critique and varied perspectives of others. We are radically open to the possibility that our hermeneutic stance will be greatly enriched in conversation with others. In other words, we value dialogue very highly, and we are convinced that open and generous dialogue rather than chilling criticism and censorship offers the greatest hope for the future of the church in the world.'" so that's my quick homework...i'd like to know more and get more informed from the great theologian: Tim Founds and any other theo-head

Phil Strahm said...

See what a stir I caused.

Any group spokesmen for any organization is always going to sugarcoat their mission statement.

There was an article about the "emergent church" in relevant two or three issues ago. I'll have to dig it up.

J-Fry, this open conversation unfortunately has led to some "open" beliefs and introduction of fallacies and such.

Micah Dormann said...

Like my friend jfry posted i do like the definition of emerging...the Emergent though I'm a little interested in...and Thank you Jfry for doing your homework...I think one of the key things of the emergent church is that we are willing to discuss not only methodology, but theology... Don't count me a heretic quite yet Phil I do believe that Jesus is "THE WAY" and so does most emergents but i do feel like I need to becareful of being so stuck in Wesleyan/Armianism that it affects the relationship i have with others... i.e. Baptist, Presb, etc. (i don't want to put words if Brian M's mouth) I don't think this whole division thing is the way he wants things...infact in one of his blogs online he writes that people shouldn't make is books the issue but Make Christ and knowing him the center...Now how people interpret that last part is up to them...

How do we deal with the no absolutes thing, i'm not sure...but I wonder is that issue really a staple of the emergent church or just a fear and criticism of the modern church??? or maybe it's not that we don't believe in absolutes but we are willing to discuss our denomination's theology and that looks like we have no absolutes??? maybe i'm crazy and have no idea what i'm talk about? What do you guys think...

Phil good blog on both of them, I really needed to hear the first one...I hope my rabling made sense.

Phil Strahm said...

I have accomplished my mission. We all have similar beliefs and yet can find something to debate....

The important thing is:
how we handle the "debates" and not let them become "divisive arguments" that only tear Christianity apart and make us look like a bunch of ...(fill in the blank with any negative term u've ever heard)

I guess I just struggle with the whole idea of people forming new theologies 2,000 years after Christ that are based more on experience than scripture or tradition or reason.

Phil Strahm said...

p.s. Micah said "we" under the emergent church....you're one of them!!! haha...just kidding

I'll also try to dig that relevant article up and give you the issue date for it...it's an interesting read.

tfounds said...

Wow, looks like this conversation has really gotten going in the past couple of days.

A couple thoughts...

First, along with JFry and Micah, I also appreciate your definition of "emerging".

...I've always associated "emerging" with "emergent". (I had never thought anything of it... thanks for bringing it up).

I'm not sure emergent is such a bad thing. I like the definition that JFry found that includes "arising from" and "evolutionary emergence." It gives the sense that it is coming out of the old. Not that it is replacing the old... but it is coming out of and changing out of necessity. (I don't know if that makes sense...)

In regard to the no absolutes thing... I think I agree with Micah. I'm not sure it is something that is necessarily associated with the emergent church, as much as with postmodernity. Also, I like what Micah said - "maybe it's not that we don't believe in absolutes but we are willing to discuss our denomination's theology and that looks like we have no absolutes??" It's not that we don't believe in absolutes ... it's just that we're not sure what they are. The thing I really appreciate is the willingness to ask the tough questions and challenge accepted ideas. ...not simply to be different or to bring change, but in the name of Truth.

I don't know ... maybe none of my babble makes any sense.

Phil Strahm said...

I am swamped today and through the weekend. I will have another post about this subject sometime next week, it will discuss points made in the:
July/August 2006 edition of RELEVANT Magazine on pages 70-74.

It's a decent read and I hope to discuss some of it's major points and things I may agree or disagree with. I know you'll all be eagerly awaiting!