Friday, May 2, 2008

Emerging Evangelical Christians: An Alternative to Fundamentalism

In 1990, I left the evangelical movement. Had there been a movement as that mentioned by Tony Jones, I might have stayed. ~~ Michael Bogar

By Tony Jones

Emergent is a loose collection of folks who feel that true, robust conversation about issues that matter has been chilled out of modern Christian institutions (seminaries, mega-churches, denominations, and para-church groups, to name a few). We're trying to make a place to bring conversation back.

Thus, we have friends among us who think that small government, free market economies are the solution to poverty, and others who favor federal programs and higher taxes—honestly, this is an ongoing conversation within the Emergent friendship. But we all agree that something must be done about extreme poverty, especially in Africa.

Within Emergent are Texas Baptists who don't allow women to preach and New England lesbian Episcopal priests. We have Southern California YWAMers and Midwest Lutherans. We have those who hold to biblical inerrancy, and others trying to demythologize the scripture. We have environmental, peacenik lefties, "crunchy cons," and right wing hawks.

I suppose it's easy for those who stand outside of Emergent Village looking in to credit the politics or theology of a few to the whole group, but that's inaccurate. And I can understand the frustration of those who want to criticize us and box us in when we say that we don't play by the old rules, that we can't be categorized as "left" or "right," "evangelical" or "mainline."

But, I think those same critics will only be more frustrated as the tide of those rebelling against a commodified and domesticated Jesus gain momentum. If the mainstream media is a harbinger, then I'd say that recent columns by Gary Wills and Andrew Sullivan show that a tipping point is just around the corner. Jesus really wasn't a Democrat or a Republican, and he won't be domesticated by political agendas. I do, however, believe that he will inhabit the robust and respectful dialogue about ideas that matter.

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