[photo by tarotastic]
Do you remember that “I am spartacus” scene where everyone decides to take a stand of solidarity and support for a weary gladiator? Well, this is not quite as dramatic and this will be no huge revelation to many, but let me stake my claim, add my voice to the chorus and encourage others to boldly proclaim, “I am emergence.”
Now I know, that in my own little world of grand delusions, if anyone takes notice of this, there will be plenty of folks from left to right who are going to say some version of the following,
“See, I told you so, he is one of those emergent, sell-out, hippie, anything-goes, wishy-washy, stands-for-nothing, fad-loving, trying-to-do-something-new-that-is-not-really-new, Bible-optional, Jesus-who? cool-kid, tradition-hating, “a-generous-orthodoxy”-loving, not-sure-if-he-is-even-Christian-anymore so-and-so.”
And while I want to be liked as much as the next person, sorry to say, there is not much I can do about other people’s perceptions. This is what many think of me and others who are having conversations about “emergence.” But . . for those that know me, the church I serve and what I ACTUALLY say and believe you know that when people describe me as such, I have no idea who they are actually talking about. Part of me thinks there must be some BRC Doppelganger out there on the loose.
Still, I have never really claimed the descriptor “emergent” because it is so loaded. Emergent has a gazillion different understandings, it seems to draw both defenders and attackers and well . . . I am just not that interested in entering into that particular debate. I have tried to help bring some clarification to some of the characteristics about the concept, I have critiqued some aspects of the emergent church movement/s and have given plenty of foundations about my life pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), a person of color in the US, a Christian in San Francisco, etc. . . that find resonance with the concept of “emergence.”
A few nights ago however, I thought to myself, “I have been talking with a great many people about and around this wide bounded set called ‘emergence’ so I should probably just go ahead and say something.” Again, this is not meant to be some big “reveal” but an offering to a conversation that many if us are having. More importantly it is a challenge to those in leadership today, especially for those of is who find joy in serving within the context of traditionally mainline church culture, to really put some words – and actions – to what I think is an amazing and opportune time of church reformation and transformation.
So here is a start at putting something together, not so much a “statement of faith,” but an acknowledgment and claiming of some realities that inform and guide my life and ministry. I like the term “emergence”over “emergent” because it gives a feeling of movement and discovery. There is, OF COURSE, much missing, but I think it is enough to get some conversations going. I did, however, give myself a 140 word limit to offer some guidelines . . . see, told you I am not an anything-goes kinda guy
I am emergence . . .
because I believe that Jesus called us into individual and communal lives that are inspired and fueled by the wonderfully ambiguous, immeasurable and nuanced challenge of BEING the church;
because I believe the “T”ruth that God speaks to humanity must be discovered and rediscovered through a consistent and exhibited life of shared authority, communal theologizing and institutional fluidity;
because I believe that the political, theological and ecclesiastical “other” is discerning God’s calling on their lives just as faithfully as I am, but do not feel the need to stay in relationships that are confined by false, forced or unjust relationships;
because I embrace, respect and stand up for world that is does not exist in controllable and unyielding bounds of culture, class, sexuality, gender, economies, geography . . .;
and because I just am.
I also invited folks via this tweet to join in. Here are some of the responses. Go ahead and send me some links and I’ll try to add yours to the mix.
I am: peacemaking,
building new relationships,
journeying . . . [read more]
i am emerging. i believe God is constantly changing me, calling me, revolutionizing me. God has called me to creatively use all my gifts, particularly my artistic gifts, in worship. God has called me to . . . [read more]
I wrestle alongside others in my church with what it means for this group of Christians to follow Jesus’ calling in a world that is like and unlike the world in which our faith was formed . . . [read more]
emerging is the eternal conversation started with God at the beginning of creation and continues today in believers. [read more]
In my past I had lived by the philosophy of progression, but that implies that something is left behind. I now say “I am emergence,” because, while some old dichotomies are transcended, they are also included in the new life that now is. [read more]
* God is imaginative, creative in His/Her goodness which bears reckless promises and limitless possibilities
* God will not abandon us—His/Her wayward Pilgrim Church—no matter what issues or challenges of the day we may face—God through Christ is always with us
Theology and doctrine are social objects, are fallible, and in need of constant revision, reconfiguration, and creative reconstruction lest they become arbitrary idols to prop up the powerful and oppress the weak. [read more]