Why I am an emergent, post-modern kind-of guy

The fact that I am a follower of Christ is way more important than the fact that I identify myself with the emergent and post-modern movements.  But some of the reasons I am a Christ-follower are beyond words; on the other hand, the reason that once I enter the country of Christianity that I choose to go into the state of emergency and the county of post-modernity are a little easier to explain.

Some of the reason that these descriptions are so controversial is because they mean so many different things to so many different kind-of people.  When I describe myself a post-modern, when I proclaim the power of the emergent church, here is what I mean:

I: post-modernity

By proclaiming myself a post-modern, one thing I am doing is subscribing to a certain view of the history of ideas.  This view states that once we were ancient, ruled by superstition.  This gave rise to the modern era.  Modernity worshipped a shallow kind of rational thought, and ideas divorced of their context.  The modern era was time of domination, and man-centeredness.

I believe that it is a good thing that we are working at transcending this.  Modernity gave us electricity, but it also gave us the inquistion; it gave us space travel but it also gave us nazis.

Post-modernity emphasizes the relational and the contextual.  Taken to far it can be relativistic.  But modernity taken to far can become manical.   

I believe that Post-modern Christians help recover the importance of relationships to Jesus.  When I’m feeling provacative and fiesty, I proclaim that post-modernity does a much better job of taking the Fall seriously than modern Christianity does.  It’s an ironic thing about traditional Christianity (traditional meaning Christianity circa 1650-1950): One of the most basic doctrines is that man made himself broken, fallible, disconnected from the source of wisdom.  These broken, fallible, disconnected men then went on to proclaim with arrogant surety every little thought that popped into their brains.

Post-modern Christianity I think takes seriously the image of wrestling with angels.  It is characteristic of post-moderns as a whole to recognize tensions without always having to resolve them.  Sometimes, this leads to inaction, and that can be a bad thing.  However, the alternative is to almost arbitrarily to decide which side of an issue to come down on, to ignore the values of the other side… where modernity tends to identify what it isn’t, tends to oppose and fight, post-modernity looks for a synthesis.  

There are dangers in both modernity and post-modernity… I think the church, though, is in desperate need of post-modernity… Conversely, I think our culture as a whole, the secular world, is in desperate need of modernism, I think that the pendulum in the outside world has swung too far away from surety and objective truth.

Emergence

The very title emergence evokes the idea that God is working through us… he is transforming us as he transforms the world.  He is not done with us yet.  We recognize that we are the clay, and we are open to His moldings… 

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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