At the up/rooted
panel discussion the other night Scot McKnight
spoke on the questions that are important to people in the emerging church. These are questions that were (still are) taboo in the evangelical church but which shape the faith journey of emergents. The point isn't so much the answers they land on, but that they feel like they can wrestle with (as opposed to suppress) these questions. Scot listed six main issues of discussion (and yes, this is a horrible paraphrase)-
- Scripture & Inerrancy. e.g. Can Genesis contain mythic elements?
- Science & Evolution. Instead of giving up the faith when finally exposed to science, can we actually be believers in light of science?
- Hypocrisy. Can Christians be genuinely consistent?
- Hell. Where did our views of hell even come from?
- God. Do we really believe everything the Bible says about God?
- Social location. Are most of us Christians because of the happenstance of where we were born?
When issues such as these are seen as beyond the realm of discussion, it forces believers to generally either deny their intellect or walk away from the faith. The emerging church gives people the freedom to ask the honest and hard questions about these things. Instead of being told that "good Christians" don't question the evangelical assumptions about hell or inerrancy, it has become almost the mark of a growing Christian in the EC that you explore those issues for yourself. Of course, I've learned from experience that taking advantage of that freedom to question is not looked upon favorably in many circles. For many just asking a question and thinking for oneself get one labeled as a heretic and results in a quick dismissal from one's job.
But, I think Scot's list is accurate in the issues he sees as central to the emerging conversation. The list could in many ways be the summation of my faith journey this past decade. Those were the question I wrestled with and am still exploring. I'm sure I've gone in different directions than some in the EC, but I've found resonance and a theological home with others. The only big thing I would add to the list is the whole gender question (women in ministry, gender roles...). That is really the issue that sent me down this road to begin with and has remained a central part of my experience of the emerging world. From what I have heard it is also the entry point for others (mostly women) into this conversation as well. I guess I could fit it under one of Scot's categories (scripture, God) and I know that it isn't as taboo of a topic in evangelical churches as others on the list, but I still see it as a vital and in many ways separate category.
What do others think? Are these categories accurate? What would you add?
Labels: Emerging Church, Theology