5. What school or stream of theology to you now feel most comfortable with?
I chose to answer this question first because I thought it would be the easiest. But as I sit down to write, I realize that it is not really that easy of a question to answer. Right off the top of my head I’d probably say the Emergent stream, but being a good emergent, I feel the need to deconstruct this.
First of all, let me say that I come from a charismatic, conservative evangelical background. I’ll also say that I do not feel as comfortable in this stream as I have in the past. Though we may now be post-using post, I would say that I am post-charismatic. Not non-charismatic and not anti- charismatic but beyond charismatic. I think that a lot of what passes for charismatic is self-indulgent. Focus tends to be on the gifted no matter how hard we try to say that we do not want it to be so. Those who seem to be more in tune with the ‘spirit’ tend to be more favored. This form of religion could be called Spiritanity.
Next I would almost say that I am ‘post’-Evangelical. But I know that this has more to do with the portrayal of a hijacked Evangelicalism than it has to do with the stream itself. I am not comfortable in a hyper-conservative, televangelistic, consumerist evangelical stream. Though there is a more mainline, progressive evangelical stream that I would be comfortable in, I almost feel the need to drop the ‘evangelical’ term all together.
Finally, a term that comes out of the book, The Last Word and the Word After That, that these questions arose is post-protestant. I have said elsewhere that I feel that though a lot of good came from the Protestant reformation, one of the greatest evils is the spirit of protesting. This spirit has lead us to 30000 + denominations. This is diversity with division. One of the reasons I still dwell in the conservative, charismatic stream even though I am not comfortable there is that I have an hope, maybe it could even be said that I have a dream, that we are entering into a post-protesting era where we can have diversity even as we navigate together in a unity.
The protestant movement has been a classic fulfillment of the 2 Tim 4:3, if our ears are not being itched properly, we leave and/or go start something new. I believe that this new era of globalization will be a catalyst of coming into a centering of faith. This is the stream I want to be apart of. Make no mistakes, as this new reformation continues, there will be a division.
“I think two opposite things are happening at once. Some people are opening up, moving beyond old ways of thinking, asking new questions, They are restless, and they have hope that there are new and better answers out there. At the same time, a lot of people are tightening up, entrenching, backing into old corners where they feel safe.”
The Last Word and the Word After That
Of these two streams, I want to be in the first. I want to reboot my faith beyond the confines of the neo-Platonism theologies of Augustine and wrestle out new theologies for the new era we find our-self in. Not that we take scripture lightly; as a matter of fact, I think we hold scripture in a higher regard then if we just took it literally. We no longer trust in the bible to be an instruction manual, rather we see in it a model of a wrestling with God in relationship, to make Him a reality for out generation.
So what stream am I in? Post-charismatic, post-evangelical, post-protestant? Am I emergent, missional, or simple/organic church? Am I a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal? The more I regard this question, the more that I realize that there are a lot of streams that I could say that I am comfortable in and there are some that I would be uncomfortable saying I in. And because Emergent is so vague, and includes so many steams that I would be comfortable in, I think that Emergent is as good a label or stream as I could ask for.