Thursday, December 15, 2005

Emergent What, Exactly?

You might be interested to know what the Emergent Church folks are thinking these days. Admittedly, that may be hard to pin down, as it seems they are anything and everything.

In recent days, Clifton Healy has engaged the movement head-on in This is Life! blog ( (see his posts on Dec. 12-14). Clifton confronts the Emergents from an Orthodox perspective, and as is usually the case, he goes deep. The discussion is well worth reading.

I certainly can't add much to the discussion, but it seems to me that emergents have forgotten that you can't just say anything, believe anything, open everything up for discussion with multiple options, pick and choose among the traditions of your choice and at the end of the day remain a Christian. Fr. Al Kimel, in a comment to Clifton's posts, made an astute observation about the Emergent Church Movement. He observed their own perceived self-importance and the very American nature of the movement. Exactly so.

Finally, the following story is an excellent little tale by Douglas over at Prochoros (, which has much to say about the Emergent churches, and schism in general. Thanks, Douglas.

God built a mountain and called a people to share in His work. They came from far and wide to live on the mountain. They worked with God to make the mountain strong and to defend it against enemies that would try to tear it down. The mountain was a place of strength, of refuge, of nourishment, and of healing - and the people prospered on its slopes.
Though there were often differences among the people of the mountain, these were like the differences between the members of a family, because they knew that they were all the people of God’s mountain. But eventually some of the people of the mountain rose up in dispute against their brothers and these left the mountain and descended into the plains. They claimed that they took the real life of the mountain with them and that those who continued to live on the mountain were, in fact, no longer the true people of the mountain.
These settled in view of the mountain on the plains and grew into a great nation in the world. Eventually, some of these rose up in revolt against their leaders as well, saying that they had lied to them about what it meant to be the people of the mountain. But instead of returning to the mountain itself, they moved off further into the plains. They split into tribes and generation by generation they spread into the far reaches of the world.
But though they had long ago lost all sight of the mountain, they continued to think of themselves as the people of the mountain, and to preserve the ways of the people of the mountain as best they could. And yet they were split into camps that fought one with another about what the mountain was, what it looked like, how its people lived, and about what it really meant to be the people of the mountain. The tribes split into clans, and the clans into families and single vagabonds, roaming the world.
Eventually they began to deny that a real mountain ever existed. Some insisted it was a theoretical mountain only, a symbol of something, some said the mountain was evil, or just a story told to children. And they stopped telling the story to their children, and eventually the mountain was completely forgotten.
Finally some of these began to talk to one another, and insist: “If we are called the people of the mountain, then there ought to be a mountain!” They gathered together in new clans and tribes and brought handfuls of sand from near and far and set out to build little hills of their own.

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