Monday, June 05, 2006

Left and Right....Right and Wrong

Check out this post about Emergent called "Is Emergent the New Christian Left"

I think that it is an interesting conversation to talk about emergent as left or right. And please read my comment there (maybe i'll copy it here later). But the one other thing that I want to add is from one of McLaren's book about most people argue about where we fall on a linear path but what Jesus did was change it from being about the line to being about the circle. Jesus is not on the linear path but on a circle above the path.

I also posted a second point which I copied before I posted it. And it says...

“Your conversation is like two people standing on the shore talking about the best way to save the guy drowning in the river. You can't even decide if the guy is really drowning.

I'm diving in.” --Richard Dennis miller on May 25, 2006

First, Richard, I want to make sure that you know that I applaud the fact that you have dove in. I’m swimming too, and I’m part to the emergent community. In fact, pretty much everyone in the conversation I’ve met is swimming. It’s not that the emergent conversation is two people standing on the shore talking about the best way to save the guy who’s drowning; it is more a conversation about what you say to the guy to let you help him out of the river (or another analogy could be that it’s teaching people how to swim). If a drowning man doesn’t trust you to save them and they don’t relax (or you don’t know how to swim fairly well) they will pull you under. Now you have two dead. The point is that the people I know in the emergent community are diving in day after day. I think the point is we all want to figure out how to help the drowning man out of the river. We may just disagree on the way to do it. It is unfair to judge a group of people because they have different opinions about what you should tell the man after you pull him out of the river or what stroke to swim on the way out to him. I believe this was the point Tony was making when he said we know that we need to do something about poverty. Poverty is the river that people are drowning in. We all pretty much agree with need to get them out. Where differences come into play is how to do just that.

To go back to the drowning analogy, if a man is dying of poverty and you walk up to him and tell him to believe in Jesus and he will not be hungry, is he going to accept this? That has not been my experience. That would be like shouting from the river bank saying if you believe in Jesus you won’t sink. The point is still the one that you were making and that is we have to get in the river to help them out. We need to go to areas of poverty and bring them food and supplies (i.e. get them out of the river) before we share with them about Jesus.

It has been my humble pleasure to observe that people I’ve met in the emergent community are diving in on a regular basis (I also want to say I know lots of people who would not consider themselves part of the conversation that are swimming as well).

“I do not believe that a lesbian priest is right in the eyes of God. I can’t help but think I would not be welcome in your Village holding this belief.” --leoskeo at May 26, 2006

Leoskeo, I encourage you to go to the village or to an emergent cohort meeting in your area and find out. I have faith that you will experience, as I have, that you can bring a very different opinion from the majority of the people in attendance and still be lovingly accepted into the community and conversation. I’m not saying that its perfect or that people won’t disagree or argue with you, because they probably will. But I know that if you came to our cohort, that we would welcome you in with open arms.

This issue about the conversation taking a stand needs to be put in the right framework. Emergent does not tell people who participate in the conversation to not take a stand or say definitely what they believe. But at the same time, one person can not speak for all the individuals out there that are part of this conversation; hence the no “Emergent” statement of faith. Would you like me to tell people what you believe? I know I wouldn’t.

I also want to totally applaud you if you are a part of that list of things that you were talking about sending all that money to help all those people in need! That’s so awesome! God is truly at work in those areas.

“What makes some issues more important to Emergent than other issues? What criteria did you use to discern the important from the less important issues? Can these questions be a part of the conversation?”

No issue is truly more important than any other issue. People may be spending a lot of time talking about specific issues but that doesn’t make them more important or others less important. The point is if you want to talk about an issue then we can talk about that issue. I have experience in my cohort that I can bring ANY issue to the table. So to answer your question. YES! Those questions can and are a part of the conversation!

“My frustration with emergent continues to be very simple. I still have no idea what anybody in the movement really believes.”

If you want to know what someone in the movement believes ask them, face to face (especially if you expect someone like Tony or Brian to answer that sort of question). The problem with answering that for the high profile emergent individuals is that when they open their mouth to express themselves they don’t want to cast that shadow on everyone else in the conversation. If you want to know what I believe on any issue feel free to email me, I'll gladly explain my point of view to you.

“They simply mean that biblical condemnations of murder, theft, adultery, homosexuality, which have been authoritatively interpreted by the church for twenty centuries as meaning pretty much what the words say, need not "discussed" or "deconstructed" according to a set of philosophical assumptions that have only recently gained ground.” --Dan at May 26, 2006 05:45 PM

The problem with accepting all those as authoritatively interpreted by the church is the pitfalls that all of us as part of the church have been through before on issues that we thought we had figured out. Take slavery, many within the church used to definitely believe that slavery was made right by the authority of the bible.

What about an eye for an eye? In the biblical day that expression was an extreme movement towards reconciliation because before that if you took someone’s eye they could kill you. God was asking for a change in that behavior. Does that mean that when someone punches me I should punch back? No (as many here would argue that Jesus changed all that).

The point is that the Gospel is lived out differently in different contexts. The emergent conversation is dealing with the postmodern shift (if you argue that the postmodern shift isn’t happening then that’s another argument). The emergent conversation is about discussing and examining how the Gospel can be meaningfully lived out today. But it doesn't stop there, it's about living in relationship with the living God. It's about how do we have a 24/7 365 faith. If you want an emergent bottom line that's about as simple as I can state it.