"Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5
We are living in a "Post" age where everything seems to lack definition.
Many have labeled the United States as Post-modern, Post-Christian, Post-Conservative, Post-Evangelical, Post-Liberal, Post-moral, or Post-Madonna (ok, so I made this last one up, but seriously, shouldn't we in this country be beyond listening to her at this point........). My brother laughs at all of this stuff because he hears me getting called post-modern, or emergent, from time to time (usually because of my glasses and maybe the way I dress and/or communicate). So, he just tells people that I am actually Post-world (that, in itself, is stinkin' hilarious.......I love a parody of the ridiculous).
One of the problems with anything "post" is that it lacks definition. So we have people that have noticed that we are beyond (post) modernism in a general sense. Great. So what does that mean? Can't tell 'ya.
I understand the inability to define a mindset/worldview when it is still forming. I think there are some things that can be understood about what is termed post-modernity, but how it all plays out and how the church will be shaped by it are yet to be seen in any real way. To complicate things, the nomenclature of "emergent" or "emerging" is used of any churches that seem to fit the post-modern worldview (whatever it really is, since it still has not been completely defined). In some ways this stuff is not helping at all. For instance, there is some skepticism regarding those who label themselves "emergent" and who question the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, and the veracity of the Scripture. I think we should be skeptical about these movements because they defy a 2,000 year old lineage of orthodoxy in the church. These aren't matters of form or methodology, they are matters of core conviction.
That said, I think there is some good that has, dare I say it, "emerged" from all of this. Let me see if I can name a few things that the emerging post-modern conversation has done for the good of the church:
1. It has offered a much needed corrective in our arrogance toward the Scriptures. The Word of God is inspired and inerrant, our theology is not. I think there are some things that we can bet our life on in the Scripture (and should), but there are other things that simply are not quite as bulletproof (like eschatology for instance). Good, godly people see some of these other items with a different view - it doesn't make them our enemy........it should make us dialogue to really seek the Spirit's leadership on the nature of the truth (which assumes, rightly I believe, that there is such a thing as objective truth).
2. It has pierced a hole in denominational walls. I don't think that the emerging, post-modern conversation has been solely responsible for this movement that is "post" denominational (this has been developing for some time now, with credit going to the charasmatic streams of faith and even some of the seeker movement toward this end). What I think the post-modern, emergent churches bring to the superceding of denominationalism is that they are looking at a general worldview that effects everyone. Thus, every church needs to pay attention if the landscape of thinking is shifting in a demonstrable way.
3. It is calling the church to examine carefully the definition and role of the church. This is a huge contribution to the body of Christ, because although it seems that every generation has its own way of understanding the nature of the church, the post-modern, emerging conversation is engaging theology at a more intimate level to answer this question than their pragmatic theology predecessors.
Ok, there are some thoughts as a beginning.
I am so Post-blogging.