Emerging Church Movement
By Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
The emerging church is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st
centuries that crosses a number of theological boundaries. What those involved
in the movement mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized
and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern
Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian
community. - Wikipedia
"The emerging paradigm has been visible for well over a hundred years.
In the last twenty to thirty years, it has become a major grassroots
movement among both laity and clergy in 'mainline' or 'old mainline'
Protestant denominations." - Marcus Borg
At one level the emergence church movement and the creation-centered
spirituality movement have merged to become a single movement.
The internationally renowned spiritual theologian Reverend Matthew Fox,
who is one of the leaders of the creation-centered spirituality
movement is enjoying new popularity within the emergence church
movement. He has contributed to a book with emergent
theologian Marcus Borg.
"Emerging churches can be found throughout the globe,
predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia,
New Zealand and Africa." - Wikipedia
The core international values in the emerging church are,
desires to imitate the life of Jesus; transform secular
society; emphasize communal living; welcome outsiders; be
generous and creative; and lead without control.
The emerging church opposes a number of traditional
Christendom values. An emerging church leader Stuart Murray
summarizes negative traditional Christendom values as "a
commitment to hierarchy and the status quo; the loss of lay
involvement; institutional values rather than community
focus; church at the centre of society rather than the
margins; the use of political power to bring in the
Kingdom; religious compulsion; punitive rather than
restorative justice; marginalization of women, the
poor, and dissident movements; inattentiveness to
the criticisms of those outraged by the historic
association of Christianity with patriarchy,
warfare, injustice and patronage; partiality
for respectability and top-down mission;
attractional evangelism; assuming the Christian
story is known; and a preoccupation with the rich
Emerging church leaders are endorsing the use of contemplative
prayer, including centering prayers, mantra prayers, breath prayers,
silence prayers and a type of yoga meditation. They are leading believers
into eastern meditative prayer experiences. This is a Christianized
version of Hindu prayer techniques that were introduced through
Roman Catholic priests, Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington,
as a result of their own mystical prayer experiences.
"Teachers in the emerging church tend to view the Bible and its
stories through a lens which they believe finds significance and
meaning for their community's social and personal stories rather
than for the purpose of finding cross-cultural, propositional
absolutes regarding salvation and conduct." - Wikipedia
The emerging church rejects absolutism. Biblical scriptures are not
considered to be the infallible word of God. Science has discovered
that some of the scriptures are untruthful and deceptive. The emerging
church believes that people who believe that all of the scriptures
tell the truth and then accept all of the "essential Christian
dogmas" of historic and traditional Christianity have some
false "essential" dogmas. Their false dogmas are based on
scriptures that modern day science has proven to be untruthful
and deceptive. This is why the emerging church believes
traditional Christianity has false doctrines/dogmas. And the
emerging church also rejects "Christian" doctrines that
contradict the values of a loving God.
Reformed and evangelical opponents of the emerging church movement
are saying that the movement's shift away from traditional evangelical
beliefs such as eternal punishment and penal substitution towards a
reintroduction of elements of ancient mysticism is inappropriate.
Emerging church "revisionists", one of three categories within
the movement, are theologically liberal, and openly question
whether evangelical doctrine is appropriate for the postmodern
world. Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt are leaders of the
"revisionists" expression of the ECM.
One of the leaders of the emergence church Ian Mobsby asserts
that the emerging church is using different models of contextual
theology than conservative evangelicals, who tend to use a
"translation" model of contextual theology (which has been
criticized for being colonialist and condescending toward
other cultures); the emerging church tends to use a "synthetic"
or "transcendent" model of contextual theology.
"Many people in the movement express concern for what they
consider to be the practical manifestation of God's kingdom
on earth, by which they mean social justice. This concern
manifests itself in a variety of ways depending on the local
community and in ways they believe transcend "modernist"
labels of 'conservative' and 'liberal.' This concern for
justice is expressed in such things as feeding the poor,
visiting the sick and prisoners, stopping contemporary
slavery, critiquing systemic and coercive power structures
with "postcolonial hermeneutics," and working for
environmental causes." - Wikipedia
Postcolonial hermeneutics: The basic assumption of
postcolonial biblical hermeneutics is that most of the
texts in the bible are written in the context of imperialism
and are responses to the colonization. As we live in the
context of new manifestations of imperialism/colonialism
today, the postcolonial method of interpretation can
open Christians towards new possibilities of reading
the bible. - Rev. Dr. Simon Samuel
"The prefix, 'post' in postcolonial does not refer to polarity or
denote 'after'. On the contrary, the
'post' refers to a spatial category: a space between colonial
master and the colonized subjects. This 'third space' that emerged
after colonialism provides the tools for 'dismantling the house of the colonial master'.
Therefore it is an emancipatory space for the oppressed colonial
subjects, i.e., the oppressed indigenous peoples. - Rev. Dr. Simon Samuel
The 'house of the colonial master' means the UN's international system, America's
system and the Canadian system, etc.. It also means the organized and institutionalized
churches of historic and traditional Christianity.
Reverend Matthew Fox is enjoying new popularity within the ECM.
He has (as previously mentioned) "contributed to a recent book
with emergent theologian Marcus Borg" and way back in 1991,
Leonard Sweet, now a leading emergent and co-author with
Brian McLaren called Fox one of his 'personal role models
of the true nature of the postmodern apologetic'."
I believe that Reverend Matthew Fox's influence in the Emergence
Church Movement will eventually lead the ECM to my visionary
prophetic mission. A mission that is described in my online
article UN, Natives And Hippies Unite To Save The World.