So here's why I'm NOT leaving emergent:
1. I don't really think the theology of guys like Brian or Doug or Tony (or Danielle or Phyllis or Julie) or whoever is all that radical, "unorthodox," or shocking. In fact, I still pretty much agree with most of it. Not all of it of course (it'd be pretty strange to find someone with whom I agree on anything 100%) but enough that I don't feel the need to post scathing theological treatises accusing anyone of heresy. Bottom line, I like the directions the conversation has been going and I'm not scared off by the questions some folks have been asking or the answers some folks have been giving. A lot of it is pretty much where I'm at too. So I'm more than happy to remain a part of this conversation.
(I should also point out that by the standards of contemporary liberal theology, what most emergent writers are doing is still very, very traditional by comparison - and still historically "orthodox" in a broad sense - maybe not strictly Augustinian anymore in some cases, but not unorthodox. As I've discovered during my time at a moderate to liberal mainline seminary, being on the progressive end of emergent theology barely even makes me a liberal Christian here.)
2. It's not about theological agreement anyway. Even if I did have major disagreements with any of the major voices in the conversation, what I like about the emerging church is that I could just speak up and say so without having to break relationships. There are no requirements that any of us agree on any particular point of theology in order to be in relationship with one another. That is the whole point - the EC intends to be an open and safe space for all perspectives, with the one requirement that you be willing and able to agree to disagree and continue to respect and love one another even when you do (or at least try to - none of us are perfect). It's because of this openness to diverse viewpoints and differing theologies that I am still happy to remain emergent.
3. There are good people here. Like I said, the emerging church is defined not by agreement, but by relationships, and we've found some good ones here. People who are on a similar journey to us, even if we're not all at the same place along the way all the time. We discovered friends, acquaintances, and even kindred spirits along this journey - people like Sarah and Ryan, Karen, Steve, Makeesha, Mike, April, Jen, Rick & Leslie, Bob & Lisa, Jeff, Tony, Andrew, Kristine, Fred, Kevin, Nanette, Scot, Dave, Spencer, Rich & Rose, Jim, Rebecca, Rachel, Mark, Matt, Erin, Fran, Brian, Jimi, etc... etc..., and still more whom I only know through avatars or emails - and I see no good reason to just turn my back on these relationships, no matter how many others think the conversation is over or has gotten too heretical or whatever.
4. It's about the Kingdom of God. All the talk, all the blogs, all the books, all the conferences are just a motivational kick in the pants to get us out there engaging in mission for the good of the world on behalf of the Kingdom. It was the emerging church that introduced me to the gospel of the kingdom - to the vision of God's reign of compassion and justice and peacemaking and joy becoming a reality in this world around us. And that's a passion that I'm not about to back away from or give up on. Of course I'm not saying that the emerging church is the only place where this kingdom vision is found, but it's where I've found it, and what the movement is still primarily about for me. I don't want to leave this kingdom-movement, if anything I want to see even more people catch the vision and get on board with it. There's work to be done, and we're wasting too much time arguing over whose theology is more orthodox or who is willing to wear what label anymore.
5. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are still people who are just stumbling upon the emerging church conversation for the first time every day. As part of the EV Cohorts Team, I get to interact with many of these people on a regular basis, and it would be a real shame if those of us who have been around the conversation for a long time now and maybe are a little tired of going over the same ground one more time, just decided to pack it up and leave when there are people out there who need our help and a listening ear - who need to know, as Spencer Burke is fond of saying, that they're not the only crazy ones out there.
The reality is that there are still A LOT of people out there who have been burned by the church, by destructive and oppressive forms of faith, or who simply have questions about faith that they're not allowed to express in the contexts they are in - and the emerging church is still a safe haven for many of these folks to find the freedom to ask their questions and be in process without judgment or exclusion. The reasons the emerging church started in the first place - i.e. the flaws and dysfunctions of conventional Christianity - haven't yet disappeared, so why should the emerging church disappear? Until the church stops spiritually abusing people or denying them the freedom to fully explore their doubts and other promptings from the Spirit, there will always be a need for a safe space, and thus I will remain here so that I can be one of the ones to offer it to them.
Anyhow, there are other reasons too, I'm sure, but this is what comes to mind off the top of my head. Thus, for all these reasons and more, I am NOT leaving the emerging Christian conversation. If anything, I intend to continue my journey "futher up and further in." Anyone who wants to is welcome to join me.
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