Emergent Stirrings!

Ethnic Diversity Within the Church That Is Emerging
So this is not just “for white guys with two books under the arm and a budget to travel around to conferences. ” ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve more than 2 books, and I don’t have much of a budget to travel around (I’m usually dependent on sponsors!) Any, I like Rudy’s piece partly because he put me on the list! … BUt more so because I agree with him when he says “”Why did Rudy go and put me on this list?” They all fit the bill because they are discussing, or re-examining, ways of doing and being church in a manner that resonate with the broader emerging church conversation, even if some might not agree with the direction of particular theological discussions.” So even though, I can’t say there’s an “emerging movement” (to use Prof. Scot’s term) in Malaysia (I may be wrong) but I think there’s are some “unemerged” conversations emerging ๐Ÿ™‚

Talkin’ with Tony Jones about Postmodern Ministry
I think the discussion on the word “Postmodern” is getting more refined but what’s caught my attention was the little comment on seminary education, i.e. “Tony hopes that a new seminary education will emerge that will replace the Germanic research university model of education and the “theological encyclopedia” division of studies (biblical studies/systematic theology/church history/practical theology) that we now have. He also wants to see seminary education done at the local level—as students are doing ministry and immediately applying their education in the transformation of the world and the lives of the people to whom they minister.” As one who’s participating in a curriculum review at a local seminary as well as attempting to “catalize” or “midwife” my onw denominational lay leaders training programme .. these thoughts are relevant and resonate.

Scot McKnight on the Emerging Church
Bob does us a great service by providing a synopsis of Prof. Scot’s insights. I’ll pick out some glaring points for me .. with some mini feedback relating to Malaysia.
“… One of the reasons so many are frustrated with the Emerging Movement’s definition is found here: it is a movement concerned with praxis and not simply theology. If the older fashion was to define others by their theology, the Emerging Movement wants to be defined by its behavior. This is a dramatic challenge to the Church.

In Malaysia, I see a tension here … I think there some good praxis already (e.g. there aren’t too many fiery debates over doctrine because we’re all busy doing ministry) and to compliment churches who are doing well in this area there’s a need to strengthen the reflective part together“… Fifth, it wants individualism absorbed into incorporation: that is, the Emerging Movement encourages personal redemption but solo-Christianity is not what Jesus wants. He wants to form communities of faith not individual Christians.
I think we have a good “potential” environment in some of our churches in this area with many already emphasing small groups and social concerns (and increasingly more dialogue and conversations on beyond personal issues like national concerns) in one form or another … however, our challenge lies in how to reform our paradigms and theological catergories because much of our “talk” is still very individualistic especially at the grass root level or even at the local church leadership level (still having the debris of pop evangelicalism blown here to our shores?) I hear “vibrations” of disatisfaction with solo Christianity here and there .. but it’s not wider spread yet *help us Lord!*

“Sixth, the Emerging Movement’s mindset is against marketing the gospel.
This is one of the key reasons that drew me to this whole conversation in the first place. I’m sick and tired of “marketing” the gospel … I’ve STOPPEd going “some seminars or meetings that provide “solve all your problems” solutions and I’ve STOPPED easily falling prey to empty promises (or prophecies). I’m not anti-business and I appreciate those who work under the category “marketing” but it’s when the work of the kingdom is distracted that’s what upsets me.

“Seventh, the Emerging Movement despises the idea that Church is what takes place on Sunday Morning…the work of the Church is what occurs during the week as the local community of faith performs the gospel.
I think for me there’s a balance here. I agree with the main thesis of this statement. And I’ve been advocating this view and hope people see how their Monday to Saturday is valuble in God’s sight and meaninful in God’s mission. The reality is sometimes, at least in Urban centres and amongst young adults they are sucked into a “work culture” that tires them out from even thinking about performing the gospel. so, though Sunday Corporate Worship (or whatever day) is not where all the work of the Church (i.e. people of God) occurs, it’s still IMHO a “means of grace” to recollect our corporate conscioussness that God is at work and there’s a place of worship (and simply gathering together is a counter cultural or cross cultural witness – The Muslims gather on Friday, the Hindu’s either weekly or specific festivals, now the Buddhist resurgence too has weekly Dharma meetings) so we need to not so much of forsake meetings – but focus them and turn them from barriers to bridges of God’s grace, and not a burden but truly a blessing so we can go in the world and to the work of the church!

so, let’s stop debating whether we should have or don’t have a worship service on sunday or any other day. Let’s not get revolve ourselves around whether we have to or don’t have to “go to church”. Let’s talk about what REALLY matters – i.s. what and who is this church? and how can we participate with otehr believers to embody the gospel, express it and engage our worlds as a group (beyond individual efforts). where there’s existing structures we could fully participate in let’s faithfully get involved, where there isn’t perhaps we could initiate new ways.

“… I am pleading with the critics of the Emerging Movement to accept that not all Emerging folks are hard or even soft postmodernists. To equate Emerging folk with postmodernism and to say that postmodernists deny truth so therefore the Emerging folk deny truth is unfair, libelous, and scandalous to how Christians ought to operate with one another…
…only God is Absolute Truth and all our articulations of truth partake, to one degree or another, in that Truth but our articulations do not strike home as as full grasp of Absolute Truth. Only God is Absolute Truth and only God can genuinely know Absolute Truth. All our knowledge is tinged. To assign Absolute Truth to God alone does not ruin our confidence, it just means that our confidence is in God.”

I’m also growing tired of the warings of the slippery slope of relativism (though I appreciate it) when the discussion is being framed in new categories and terms which allow for more fruitful forward interaction rather than retreating to age old battle lines.

What”s important is God is in the picture … and truth is not “left behind.”

“… First, the EM is pro-missional in thrust. The term “missional” is a favorite among many in the EM because it goes beyond the older Christian terms like “mission” and “missionary,” and because it is being defined holistically. To be missional means to embrace a holistic gospel – it is for the whole person (heart, soul, mind, and strength), for the whole society (politics, economy, culture, environment), and for the whole world.

Before the word “emergent” became part of my vocabulary, I was captured by the word “Missional”. JOhn 20:21 is kind of my life verse. I find it helpful to intergrate many “dichotomies” e.g. evangelism/social justice, marketplace/family, theology/praxis, ministry/spirituality, institutional church/parachurch, leadership/servanthood, etc.

There’s many emphasis in town these days on single issues above, and are all helpful. But as a Christian and local church pastor, the word “missional” helps me relate them to each other and connect them into a wider framework.

“… Second, the EM is pro-Jesus. (Reformational) theology is often abstract, systematic, and rooted in logic and reason. The EM wants to root its theology, which is more practical than it is theoretical, in the incarnate life of Jesus himself. It wants a theology that is shaped by personhood and relationship rather than just rationality and systemic thinking. (Let’s not use simplistic dichotomies; instead, this is an issue of emphasis.)”

as one who has drank deeply in the Charismatic/pentecostal stream in Malaysia, and also growing to appreciate how the understanding of the Spirit is also more inclusive then I’d imagine. I’m still drawn back to Christ as the center of my mind, manner and ministry. I’m kept on the ground to the down to earth realities and also challenged in expressing my love for God and others in concrete ways.

“… Third, the EM is pro-Church. It is not ecumenical in the classical sense of the Ecumenical Movement, which was set on a course of finding a doctrinal basis among sets of Christians who could not agree, but in the sense of being missionally focused. Because it is missionally focused, it finds it much easier to cooperate with other Christians with a similar missional focus and to cooperate with other Christians because its own theological agendas are less central…It is also pro-Church in that the Church is designed to be a community. “
This reminds me I need to kick myself to get my MTheol work stared “visibly” not virtually! I think I’ll be working these thoughts in detail there.

(at the mean time I too highly recommend that we read Scot’s posts in detail)

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