Grand Rapids Theological Seminary has generously posted some audio links for a seminar on the emerging movement featuring Brian McLaren, Steve Wittmer and and Ed Dobson. I can't wait to listen to the debate and collegial interaction! Go check out the details with the preceding link, or simply download them here:
Session 1: The Emerging Church: Past, Present, and a Kairos Moment
Session 2: The Emerging Church: A Historical/Theological Professor’s Reflections
Session 3: The Emerging Church: A Pastor’s Reflections
Session 4: The Emergent Conversation: Present and Future & Challenges and Potential
Session 5: The Emerging Church: Reflections & Questions
Speaking of the emerging church, I just came across a rather stinging rebuke from Richard John Neuhaus on the subject (mentioned in Harbinger) - perhaps it's worth reproducing below in the hopes of generating some heated opinions.
I have to say that I've got some mixed feelings about Neuhaus' sentiments here: on one hand there is so much nauseating affected excitement within popular Christianity as to bestow the label "movement" with discrediting regularity; and so I am fairly sympathetic with Neuhaus on that score. But on the other hand he seems to dismiss the conceptual engine of the emerging movement, which is far more searchingly academic in character than the straw man he so triumphantly tumbles. To dismiss the important methodological and theological stimuli behind the emerging movement is a brash act of hand-waiving that fails to benefit either side of the issue. In any case, here it is:
----------------------------------------The reinvention of Christianity, the most traditional of American contributions to religious history, proceeds apace. Publisher’s Weekly is excited. An article, “Pomos Toward Paradise,” breathlessly reports the pomos (postmoderns) of the “emerging church” who are rapidly moving toward the paradise of big commercial success, with many of them having arrived. Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian is a tremendous hit. McLaren “calls the emerging church a ‘conversation’ rather than a movement.” It appears that even “movement” suggests too much of an institutional commitment for “emergents” who want to float unencumbered in their spiritual fancies. Says McLaren, “They’re asking questions about what it means to be a Christian in a postmodern, postcolonial world.” Postcolonial? One waits in vain for the postinanity era in the spiritual hustling of what PW calls the world of “viral networking.” (Viral as in virus, one assumes.) A successful marketer explains, “A lot of people who fit into the postmodern category don’t want to be identified as Christian.” Christ is so much easier to take without the riffraff he has attracted over the centuries. The Relevant Media Group is near the top of the market with a “hip, twenty-something demographic that is the primary core of postmodern thinking.” For Relevant, we are told, “the ‘real world’ is largely an urban one.” “We want to be part of our readers’ world,” says a spokesman, so the company is moving from an affluent suburb to a site closer to the center of Orlando, Florida. You can hardly get more urban than that. Postmodern, postcolonial, emerging, viral networking—it’s mostly the hype and chatter of religious pandering to a neophiliac culture. In addition to cashing in on the newest new thing, I expect most of these authors and perhaps even some of the publishers think they are winning souls for Christ. Christianity Today, the mainline evangelical magazine, pays a lot of attention and is concerned about the theological vacuity and doctrinal deviations of the industry, as well it should be. But the stuff sells, as witness PW’s list of the top-forty religion bestsellers in the same issue, a list which (except for one book by the estimable C. S. Lewis) runs the gamut from lower to higher kitsch. Of course, such an observation smacks of elitism, as in having a taste for excellence. The higher elitism, however, is not scornful toward the inevitability of the popular always being popular, as in vulgar, and holds on to the hope that those who sell the fake satisfactions of being superior to Christianity as it has been believed and lived through time will, however inadvertently, lead some people to a commitment to Christ, including his mostly quite ordinary friends who are the Church. Seeing through the preening self-importance of “seeker,” “emergent,” “pomo,” and whatever is next month’s hot spiritual pretension, they might even find the courage to call themselves Christians.
----------------------------------------Well, what do you think? Is Neuhaus full of hot gas or is he on to something?