I just read a long series of comments following this post, the main thrust of which was trying to understand the emerging church movement in light of a whole series of criteria, all of them current or modern ways of thinking, and trying to make sense of emergent within those modes of thinking. I was overwhelmed by a sense that they would never get it if they didn’t realize that they couldn’t analyze it from a modern perspective. Such a perspective rigidity would fundamentally lead to misunderstanding…here is my comment:
I really enjoyed reading all your comments, what a wise and charitable group you are.
The one biggest feeling that emerges within me after reading all these is that indeed there is a difficulty in trying to explain or in trying to understand what the emerging church movement is.
I think it is because it is something billowing up from the innards of a wide and diverse group of people that have for the first time been freed from thinking in only a modern milieu, that through the crack that this little postmodernity thing has ripped open in the massive backside of modernity, a new perspective has been achieved; actually for the first time in a really long time, a totally new perspective has been found. It is the one afforded to those who look out the crack.
Some people are peeping out that crack and things are billowing up within them. They are trying to describe it, but even they themselves do not really understand what it is they are seeing, they only know they are drawn to it forcefully, and that they have a new ability to think and feel things they never imagined.
Others are looking at them and what they are saying, and sometimes without also sharing that view out the crack, are unable to process their comments because they simply are not experiencing this totally new perspective offered.
Many are now climbing up to the crack, to take a look, others are just too busy with their good lives and responsibilities to have the time to take a look. Not to say they wouldn't if they had a few minutes respite from their responsibilities.
Truly this crack has afforded a totally original view, a perspective that cannot be understood from prior categories.
I'm trying to actually climb out of the crack and get to the other side (emerge). Many will prefer to stay where they are, and that is fine, and many will be very curious and get up there and peer out the crack and talk to the others who are doing so and who are feeling something billowing up within them. There's a big feeling component to it, you can't necessarily understand it all now, it's more that you have to feel it.
I totally understand the consternation this kind of language might bring to some, and I just smile humbly to myself as I pitch my axe head a few feet higher and continue to climb. I am going to figure out how I have become more socially liberal and yet more deeply pious at the same time. I am going to find out why I am becoming more concerned about loving people in general than I am about converting them.
I'm hoping to find some clue as to why these things are billowing up within me like when I sense within myself a total dedication to God’s Kingdom and the drawing of others into it, yet I feel more and more like a universalist because of Jesus. How does my great belief in Jesus the Word, the Word is God exist at the same time that I am losing my inerrant view of scripture and replacing it with a sense of wonder at its humanness; and a feeling that that very humanness and its inherent mistakes and missteps causes me to believe even more in a God who's so interested in me a human, that he not only became a human but spoke forth his Word through human frailty.
How is it that I’m becoming far more interested in my humanness and in the greater community of humans I live with the more I try to walk in the Spirit? How did I, a lover of Keith Green and imbiber of his anti-Catholic views become so fascinated with liturgy and Eucharist and Pope JPII and the complete sense that I have no more need to protest?
I’m not sure I totally understand how a Southern California Republican lover of Reagan like me become a sojourner of the new religious left; partly it’s because I wanted to be in solidarity with my New York City community and because post 9/11 the word fundamentalist viscerally scares me, but I still don’t totally understand how this happened to me.
I'm definitely a new kind of Christian and all my old kind of Christian’s friends’ attempts to understand these changes in me all seem to lack any awareness of, or sense of, my totally new and original perspective out the crack. Somehow looking out the crack has changed me.