“Recently I’ve been contemplating the emergence theory and something a friend of mine said. The comment was, ‘We’ve allowed the critics to define the emergent church.’ I resonated with his statement because the nature of the conversation has been predominantly deconstructive in nature. Many are learning to question the beliefs of their youth and come to terms that all is not right in Christendom. And the absence of a clear, defined theology to progress forward with allows the critics to throw anything out as true. It doesn’t really matter what those within emergence say because there is little in the way of organized documentation to reflect a response. At least not yet.
“But as I pondered the criticisms and critics, I realized something very important. It’s virtually (but not entirely) impossible to leave something so important as faith, especially a specific way of believing, without something coherent to replace it with. Yet that is exactly what this point in history called for, to leave the known for the unknown. Much of the emergence journey over the last ten years (possibly longer) has been a journey of faith INTO the abyss. It was an exodus of mass proportions. There was no net to catch us. There was no map to follow. There were only people, willing to take the risk to raise their hand and say, ‘Something is not working, and damn it I’m not going to take it anymore.’ ”
“The average life of a church is about the time it takes one generation to live their lives together as an expression of the body of Christ. I think this is a beautiful thing. It should not be mourned but celebrated.
“Christianity is a dynamic faith, a moving faith. Jesus is always on a journey, always moving. In the Old Testament, the patriarchs were always moving—from one territory to another, usually in obedience to God’s call. It sometimes seems that when the people of God stop moving and set down roots, that’s when things start to stagnate. In the arc of history God’s ability to reconcile the world to God’s self will not be hindered if your local church closed its doors because the next generation goes off and starts something new, in the same way God’s work would not be hindered if my church closed its doors.”
One of the phenomena I continue to watch within some Evangelical and charismatic circles is an extreme dependence on the Old Testament, almost to the detriment of the New. I see people routinely going back to the OT to craft esoteric theologies made pointless by the death and resurrection of Christ. And I watch people fall into a weird, mystical legalism that seems superspiritual but in the end is nothing more than a negation of the work of Christ.
A short video about Christians Trying to Convert Non-Christians
“Let me ask you to hold in your mind traditional Christian visions of the future, in which many, perhaps the majority of humanity, are excluded from salvation forever. Alongside that hold the universalist vision, in which God achieves his loving purpose of redeeming the whole creation. Which vision has the strongest view of divine love? Which story has the most powerful narrative of God’s victory over evil? Which picture lifts the atoning efficacy of the cross of Christ to the greatest heights? Which perspective best emphasizes the triumph of grace over sin? Which view most inspires worship and love of God bringing him honor and glory? Which has the most satisfactory understanding of divine wrath? Which narrative inspires hope in the human spirit? To my mind the answer to all these questions is clear, and that is why I am a Christian universalist.”
The Emperor Constantine, facing the biggest battle of his reign, looked into the setting sun at the Lilvian Bridge and saw a vision of the Cross of Christ. As he gazed at the cross he heard a voice say “By this sign, conquer”.
The next day he gave up his reign as Emperor, surrendered all his many possessions, and went to live and work among the poor. And forever after he was known as one of the greatest heroes of the faith for his obedience to the voice of God.
And a couple of challenging thoughts:
“appeals that provoke pity and guilt [do] not pointing in the right direction. To get people to respond simply to ease their own discomfort was actually counterproductive. Such appeals don’t help the poor long-term; these appeals eventually just make people calloused and cynical or at the least able to view such presentations with very little impact.
“Truth is, when you dig down a little, all of us are child abusers, murderers, and thieves. All of us are walking around with the blood of others in our clothes, in our food, and in our hair.”