Sunday, January 21, 2007

What is Emerging Christianity?

When one speaks of Christianity it's important to remember that this isn't a monolithic movement. Besides there being Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant, from there there are many further subdivisions and further subdivisions. Just think, there are dozens of varieties of Baptists, alone.

I've posted earlier about my readings of Brian McLaren, one of the central figures in the Emergent movement, but as Scot McKnight of North Park Theological Seminary, a self-described but critically engaged emerging Christian, offers an interesting synopsis of the movement on Christianity Today's blogsite.

I'll just put up the five streams that he believes flow into the Emerging lake:

1. Prophetic
2. Postmodern
3. Praxis oriented (worship, orthopraxy, missional)
4. Post-Evangelical (their not caught up in a specific theology)
5. Political (that is, they tend to vote overwhelmingly Democrat, because they feel that the Dems put more emphasis on things like poverty and the environment).

Take a look, if you're interested in understanding this interesting movement that's transforming important sectors of Evangelicalism and has been influencing Mainliners as well. In fact, in many ways it serves as a bridge between the two sectors of Protestantism.

1 comment:

roy said...

I think there was/is another branch that called/s itself "emerging" and is part of the confusion. It is a movement within the megachurch movement aimed at evangelizing post-moderns. It is not postmodern in theology or style and doesn't embrace any of those 5 streams you mentioned Bob except perhaps the missional piece, defined in typical evangelical terms. Instead, it uses similar music, symbolism, and worship to the church's that embrace those streams but continues to hold to a typical megachurch evangelical theolgy and politics. In my most cynical of times, I refer to it as a postmodern mask being worn over a typical modernist evangelical face. This movement is not a means of struggling with the new world we're confronting but of trying to pull it back into a world that is rapidly disappearing. It is a technique rather than a way of thinking. Often these "emerging" churches are part of megachurches and meet on their properties or are satellites with funding and staff from the mother church while meeting someplace more palatable to postmoderns.

Unfortunately, as institutions, most of the congregations that I would have referred to as truly emerging have struggled and many have closed while the megachurch "masks" have survived.