Recently I had the pleasure to hear Phyllis Tickle and Tony Jones speak in Memphis , TN on the the subject of the Emergent Church. Their speaking marked the beginning of a Lenten Series at Calvary Episcopal Church. Emerging Christianity, the Emergent Church, Emergents... all this may be new language for some, but according to the speakers the reality of this new kind of Christianity is part and parcel of our postmodern age. According to Tickle, the Emergent Church is part of a new beginning of Christianity similar to the beginning that the Protestant Reformation created about 500 years ago. No little thing. So, what is it? In a nutshell it consists of " the new communities of faith, the innovative forms of monasticism, the adventurous theology"( Tony Jones) and more. It is more interested in conversation than creed. It is the new growth of forms , ideas, and structures on the forest floor of American Christianity.
Along with Jones and Tickle I am reading Brian Mclaren's writings on this new kind of Christianity. A Generous Orthodoxy is a very good read.
Lest anyone think that Emerging Christianity is simply an armchair reading assignment let me suggest that this emerging faith can be a positive way forward out of the mire of violence in our American society. " Conversation, not Creed" is one motto we would do well to practice in our conversations be they religious or not. I connect the violence of our society to our obsessive attachments to our own egoic ideas and beliefs. We cling and defend our creeds, religious or not, and commit violence on those who disagree. We avoid conversation with those who are different. We refuse to listen to a contradictory point of view. We exclude those who are not like us. In subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways we draw our circles of acceptability.
Perhaps the Emerging Church can help us by drawing new social circles and giving us living demonstrations of letting go and letting in.