i am emergent, i am not Emergent

does anyone know the difference? i often wonder if people do. does any modern person know the difference? i often wonder if they do - and more then that, i often wonder if they care - not because we are not to be worried about, but because they cannot see the difference.

being "emergent" - with a "lower case e" - means, to me, i am part of the "emerging/postmodern conversation" - it means i voice my voice in the realm of church change and reaching a people unreached by the evangelical/modern church. it means i desire change, and i am "emerging" from the teachings of christ, the way i see them. it means i am post-evangelical, post-denomination, post-show, post-disconnection and that i believe that a community of faith is something 24/7 - it is not "american" or "ethnic" at any level, and it is life changing, life transforming and always christ centered. it means, that i seek a deeper walk with christ, a stronger faith in love, a sweeter voice in grace, a large view in forgiveness and mostly, i seek to know jesus as a real friend, savior, companion and mostly christ. it means i seek to be in scripture, and find the real meaning of that scripture in a holistic way - and not on a "one line" basis. it means that i strive to be "pro" and not "anti" (i am not "anti-moder" i am "pro-emerging"). being "pro" i see the possibilities and the positives, while being "anti" means you can only find what is wrong, and what is negative. i do not find comfort in the "anti" world - it means i am called into accountability by those i live in community with, and not those outside my community. it means i seek to know those by what God placed in them, and not what the world sees as "negatives" about them. i seek to love the ugly, the hurting, the homeless and the annoying and not just the cute, the friendsly, the rich and the powerful. it means i am willing to die for those i love, and those i do not love. it means i am willing to forgive those who harm me and truly walk in the faith that christ sets before me - i am willing to give my coat along with my shirt, and i am willing to truly walk that extra mile with others. it means i seek to be part of a community of faith that lifts me up, hold me when i shake, pushes me when i stop, that pulls me when i walk to far and mostly never, never harms me - because anytime a community causes pain to its members, it is not of christ.

i am not Emergent - with a "upper case E" - because i do not belong to the website that is called Emergent Villiage. that does not mean i do not support them, because i do - and i consider them my friends. now, can one be emerging and be Emergent, of course - many of those i call friends are in the "Emergent" group - many of the people i respect are in that group, and i value them all as a voice worth hearing - but, does being in Emergent makes you emerging? not at all. no more then belonging to ginkworld will make you a "gink." i know of many people who are "anti-emerging" that join emerging groups.

one thing that needs to be stated again, and again (a third "again" would be too modern :) ) - and in light of this "d. a. carson" guy it needs to be expressed one more time (notice, i did not say "again" :) ) - no group speaks for those of us who are emerging, no group not Emergent Villiage, not the ooze, not next-wave, not ginkworld, not any of us - no person speaks for us either - not brian, not doug, not dan, not jordon, not spencer, not charlie, not malcolm, not me - no one speaks for all who are emerging. at best, we can voice an idea and some my join us in that idea - but that does not mean "we" speak for them. all it means is our voice empowers them and gives them voice, and that is very cool. there are many things brian shares, or doug shares, or dan shares or others share that i agree with, and there are something i do not agree with - but to box all who claim to be emerging into the "Emergent" group is at best, disingenuous.

scot mcknight seems to be wanting to dialog concerning this little reality - and as long as he can see the difference, i think dialog would be a good thing. as i mentioned before, i do not "hold" carson in the regard that many seem to do - i have not read his stuff, and attending drew for my mdiv he did not influence me in the development of my theology - you see, i am not "post-evangelical" i never was evangelical, so his voice is not inside my head. if the dialog is truly a dialog (two way conversation) then i think that would be wonderful - but (and this is a big but and may be hard for those who desire to speak in the emerging conversation) you must realize that no one speaks for us all - we speak in a loud, collective voice at times but we always speak with many tones, many scales and many hearts - are you truly ready for that conversation?


Don A. Elbourne Jr. said...

I always just thought your shift key was broken. :)

Sivin Kit said...

I appreciate the chance to hear your "voice" here. It woould be great to see how in due time how all our "voices" harmonize in the emerging/emergent song and yet have our distinctive tones and perculiarities.

that's my 2 cents from Malaysia ... Asia!

thekeez said...

"not brian, not doug, not dan, not jordon, not spencer, not charlie, not malcolm, not me - no one speaks for all who are emerging."

Not being sarcastic, just curious. Are there any prominent women writing about emergent or Emergent?...thekeez

john o'keefe said...

there are, and it was my bad for not listing any in my list of "names" - so - let me add, "not karen, not sally, not rachael."

the list i gave was more of people connected to "Emergent" - and i should have listed karen in that list - so it is my bad for missing that - thanks "thekeez" for spotting my error.

thekeez said...


bodyelectric said...

This post gets at the heart of much of my struggle to really engage at the emergent convention at asbury this month. I agree with everything he says about being "emergent." The thing is that, aside from the "post-"whatevers, it is simply a description of what Christ calls everyone in his church to be.

I had a good conversation over dinner the other day with the pastor of a reformed presbyterian church in ipswich, mass. named David. Those he leads would not consider themselves "emerging" from what I can tell. I doubt many of them have ever even heard the term (or post-protestant, or post-anything), but David has a beautiful understanding of the gospel and it is exactly what john describes. The result of our conversation is that I have come to feel that much of the emergent conversation is reactionary, not emergent. While we are emerging into a new culture and state of the world, it does not seem like the basics of the gospel are changing. It does not even seem like the interpretations that people have are all that new. I am afraid it is more that we have all seen really bad examples of being church and have met a lot of people who have been burned (many of us included) and we are reacting to that.

I have spent a meal with a very "modern" pastor and it has convinced me that if every church for the past 50 years had been led by a man (or woman) with similar convictions there would be no emerging conversation today. At least no term "emergent" as john has described here. David has art shows at his church and contemporary services and he would probably never label himself as "emergent;" he would simply call himself a Christian.

No matter how much our culture changes, the love of God will be relevant and true. It will not take fancy ways of communicating that love, just authenticity. It is true, we should spend a lot of time talking about what that means and what that looks like and if that is what the emerging conversation is about then bring it on, but if not, lets spend our time doing something else.

I would love to hear people's comments on this because I have spent the last three years in this conversation and planting an "emergent" church, so these new thoughts are quite a lot for me. Any thoughts?

Michael said...

I'm still trying to figure out if I'm emerging or not, so I took this handy test.