There has been some interesting blog chatter over the fizzling of Emergent, the organization that promotes the wholesale embrace of postmodernism within Christianity. Here’s a guy who had some high hopes expressing disappointment:
My friends and I believed that there was a massive tide of change coming. We believed that everything was going to change. We found more and more people reading books by McLaren or others and we thought the interactions with these books would change the world. We knew that there would be this new kind of Christian. We believed that Christianity was on the cusp of evolution.
So those of us who are part of this thing called emergent – who are passionate about this call to live in the kingdom of God and thrive on this conversation are wondering what do do [sic]. We already experienced the droves of deserters who left because emergent doesn’t 1. hate women like they hate women, 2. hate gays like they hate gays, or 3. believe in a certain type of hatred of God towards Jesus on the cross (or all of the above). Then there are all you guys who paved the way for this conversation to even exist saying that you are disappointed that new people joined and spoiled your fun.
Anyone who has observed it from the beginning should not be surprised that it has become fragmented. Because it began with the intentions to organize itself without a centralized leadership and was committed to an egalitarian view of authority (no one has any!) it should not come as a shock that it lost its way—whatever that was.
The problem with “third way” avenues is that they never know how to reconcile people who really disagree over some substantial truth claims. Emergent started out as the kind of network that welcomed anyone and valued the virtue of “conversation” with any viewpoint. For a little while it seemed interesting. But it became clear rather quickly that there really wasn’t anything to talk about when things started to look like an old fashion brawl between liberals and conservatives.
I admit I was somewhat intrigued with the idea of Emergent when it all got started. But I never thought that Brian McLaren would be the midwife of a birth of progress in Christianity. There are only a couple of names in the history of Christianity that could claim to be that, and if there is anyone living today that might represent the face of change in Christianity they are probably African or Chinese.
For more on the death of Emergent and the “emerging church” see Patton.