I don’t know a lot about Scott McKnight but after reading his latest post (recommended by taddelay, a blogger I casually follow and has posted here before), I want to know a little bit more about him. It appears that he and Dan Kimball (one of the only ones in the “Emergent” movement that I have liked some of his writings) are doing some new things together. I have plenty of more research to do there of course.
Anyways, this lead to another blog which was a response from Tony Jones (an “Emergent” leader who I have not been impressed with in much of any way at all).
In this blog, Tony joins Scott in their disregard for titles such as emergent and emerging. That titles mean nothing and what matters is the heart of any of these discussions.
My first thought as I read this from Tony is what? When I first went to the Emergent Summer Institute a few years back, I had an interesting thing happen. It was clear to me what emerging meant but I knew little of Emergent at the time. Having a week with Doug Paggitt, Tony Jones, and other Emergent voices, one thing became very clear; our church would fall into the title of emerging but not Emergent. However, as each of us shared about our church over the week, person after person would say “Oh, then you’re an Emergent church!” and I would have to say “No, we’re not.” It was evident to me that there not only no coincidence that Emergent and Emerging are so close in names but it appeared purposeful to make Emergent seem larger than it was and draw more churches in.
However, there has been a backlash as more and more churches like ours have no interest in being Emergent and more and more people are saying, “Wait a minute? What’s the difference between the two?” Now that they are, it seems the popular response is “What’s in a title?” as if this wasn’t propelled by them anyways in the first place.
OK, I get that but then Tony throws out a new title (at least to me) and it makes my head spin. In one paragraph, Tony is kicking back at their cabin wondering what’s the deal with these titles (we created) and then in the next, we get EMC (or Emergent/-ing Church Movement). This new phrase plays the same old game as before, let’s combine Emergent and Emerging and pretend they are the same thing.
I wish the title games didn’t matter but none the less, it has tripped up a lot of good people. Even one of my favorite books, “Why We’re Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be” (which I wish was required reading personally) treated all emerging as Emergent because the lines are so grey now, it’s too hard sometimes to draw the line.
My concern is there are many, many great people and churches in both. There are loud voices within Emergent who are messed up theology wise to say the least. There are many voices trying to arise from the emerging church that are drowned out by the previous mentioned line and are lost in the shuffle. There are several great people in the emerging church movement but you know what, they wouldn’t even admit they are in the emerging church movement because they don’t want to be confussed into the Emergent boat.
The titles have been confussing and a mess. Let’s not add more thinking people won’t catch on this time. OK, that’s my rant. Have a good afternoon.