To Emerge or Not?

Here is a view on the not side. I know some have read up a bit on Brian McLaren. I have only read a little and agree to the points of having healthy and open discussion. So I am anxious to hear some thoughts on this:

Author: cowboysfan

Just a guy who knew better. Livin' for eternity now, so technically, I'm just on a temporary visa!

5 thoughts on “To Emerge or Not?”

  1. Thanks for the link, cowboysfan. (I edited your post to make it clickable.)

    McDonald has three points, and I believe makes some logical fallacies along the way. I’m teaching my kids on the fallacies of logic, so some of these are at the front of my brain, not at the back with all the other things I learned in college.

    First, McDonald compares today’s “emergent” leaders with yesterday’s hippies. Their only similarity, apparently, is that they are both critiquing the established order. This weak analogy (a fallacy in which minor characteristics are similar but major charactistics are different) fails to capture the essence of what the emergent leaders are attempting to do, and why they are attempting to do it.

    Briefly, the leaders he has cited have: 1) spent time in the “other camp”, and have identified shortcomings in it; 2) attempted to engage in honest dialog with the other camp; 3) not thrown out the baby with the bathwater, but have tried to retain the valuable contributions of the other camp.

    This is not saying that all emergent leaders are grand human beings and should be listened to, but the red herring (another fallacy!) of “History is replete with proof that those most articulate about our shortcomings are often least able to bring balanced, objective solutions” should be ignored as irrelevant. The question is not “what have others done?” but instead “what are these doing?”

    The second argument McDonald makes is valid: sincerity does not make one right. However, he appears to presume a priori what is right, then concludes that the emergent leaders are wrong. What leader he has listed would disagree with his statement, “We are expected to obey our Master and to accept His Word without equivocation”? None, I daresay. These leaders, however, are questioning the conventional thinking of what His Word means. They are not saying, “let’s not listen to Jesus,” but instead, “let’s revisit what Jesus has said.”

    McDonald’s last point is about style, and I find nothing to disagree with him here. A little incense in the meeting may inspire some people to a more spiritual state, but it just makes my nose itch. We must not attempt to create a mood or a style at the expense of substance. It reminds me of the grand cathedrals in Rome, which are dedicated to the Creator God, but which cater to the crowd wishing to rub the statue of St. Peter’s foot for luck. So much for style.

    Full disclosure on the emerging culture and me: I don’t see myself as emerging. I tend to think like a “modern”, and – for now anyway – I’m comfortable with that. I don’t identify with the postmodern crowd in many ways. However, I have a growing place in my heart for those who are searching for meaning and finding it in places outside our modern church structure.

  2. Well said, Professor! I just knew it felt “off” to me, and couldn’t articulate why. While McLaren may disagree, I can’t get over some parallels between what’s happening in emergent and what happened 30 years ago with the Seeker movement.

    We left a traditional church and came to Southwoods on the best possible terms, virturally sent as “Timothys” to do this work that was considered valid, just different.

    I think that’s the best stance for someone who doesn’t feel a tug toward emergent, to try to understand, possibly empathize, and certainly support any honest effort to reach every aspect of the culture.

    The article seemed to criticize an impression more than a fact.

  3. By the way, skipper, no offense intended on that previous “favorite blogger” comment — you’re my favorite SouthWoods blogger!

  4. Yeah yeah, saying I’m your favorite SouthWoods blogger is like saying steak is your favorite dinner entree at Denny’s — there just aren’t many options to choose from.

    I read the second half of Macdonald’s article, but what struck me more than the article were the responses. I resonated somewhat with rhymes with kerouac, who said, “What happens to a guy like me, who can’t go back to the old school but isn’t emergent enough?” That’s where I find myself. I really don’t feel I think like an emergent, but I don’t want even one more hour of church-as-usual.

    By the way, I’m rethinking Macdonald’s entire premise. His whole point is “why I’m not emerging”. Did anyone wake up one morning, look at the sky, and say, “Boy, it’s time to emerge!” Of course not. Like the fictional pastor in McLaren’s NKOC book, these folks found themselves less and less comfortable in the clothes they were wearing, and are trying to find something that will fit, or fit better. As far as I can tell, there’s very little choice involved.

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