According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater
Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma
It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds
assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Can the emergent church movement take constructive criticism?

by Roger Olson
August 2, 2011

I’m sure it can. However, I’m made to wonder when I see some of the responses to Brandon Morgan’s guest post here (of about a week ago -cf. and my follow up post. Brandon, a leader of the Void Collective and known to be a participant in the emergent movement, dared to raise some questions about the direction in which at least some emergent church leaders are taking the movement.

One well-known emergent leader responded very defensively at his blog. I think he put the worst spin possible on Brandon’s and my questions. And he didn’t really answer those questions.
I know Brandon’s intention (and I hope mine as well) was to create dialogue about the direction of portions of the emergent church movement; it was not to express “disappointment” so much as to urge caution and clarification.

One would hope that, of all religious movements, the emergent movement would be open to internal, constructive criticism framed in the form of questions (which were not merely rhetorical). In fact, it seems to me one of the hallmarks of emergent Christianity is self-criticism. Brandon is part of the movement. I am a sympathizer. (I wouldn’t say I’m part of it as I am a member of a fairly traditional moderate Baptist church.) Surely it’s okay for a participant in the movement who has demonstrated his status through helping found and lead the Void Collective (mentioned by the New York Times in connection with emergent Christianity!) to raise constructive criticisms and invite conversation about them. If not, and if the only response is defensiveness, then that raises serious questions about the movement’s distinctiveness.

I had hoped that some leaders of the emergent movement would respond here so dialogue could take place about the questions Brandon raises. Instead, so far, the leaders Brandon (and I) queries have only responded defensively at their own blogs. (I am sure I may have missed some more positive responses elsewhere, but why not here?)

One of my main qualms about traditional churches (denominations, congregations, institutions) is that the leaders tend to close ranks and shut off even constructive criticism. One thing I hope will be true of the emergent movement is the opposite–openness to constructive criticism and willingness to consider the possibility that it needs course adjustment from time to time.