Friday, January 25, 2008

I've been defined as "Emergent/Postmodern"

I read a blog this morning called Verbal Overflow by a pastor from South Carolina. I doubt we have much in common, but I often learn more about myself when I disagree with someone than when I agree. He had a survey on his blog I decided to take. It's purpose is to measure where one is on a theological scale from liberal to fundamentalist. I am clearly on the liberal side, but I have plenty of critiques for liberal theology and don't always fit neatly into categories - perhaps typical of postmoderns. At the end of the survey I was provided with their definition of my theological worldview:

What's your theological worldview?
You scored as a Emergent/Postmodern
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.
Classical Liberal
Modern Liberal
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Roman Catholic
Neo orthodox
Reformed Evangelical

What is interesting about this conclusion is that it comes one day after I attended a gathering of pastors at the Parish Resource Center in Denver where Craig Peterson of Mountain View United Church in Aurora ( spoke of his experience on sabbatical visiting and studying the Emerging/Emergent Church movement. (He's also the reason I began this blog!) I knew something about this from a class during my doctor of ministry study at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and meeting Brian McLaren, the closet thing to a spokesperson for the Emerging Church movement.

What I like, as I understand it, about the Emerging Church movement is the desire, and varying levels of "success", to take the best from various Christian traditions - from right to left (with the exception of fundamentalism which is exclusive of anything but itself) - and creatively and faithfully blending their practices. It's not a watering down of the faith but a combining of various parts of Christianity that have been separated from each other over the years.

For me, that means combining social action for justice and peace with vibrant worship that connects with the Spirit with classical spiritual disciplines with a church growth strategy that believes there is good news to share, though the good news is not about personal salvation but a life that is meaningful because it follows the liberating teachings of Jesus Christ and appreciates the insights and wisdom from a wide variety of spiritual and secular experiences. I'll go into further into this in future blogs.

If you would like to take the survey - about which I have no endorsement other than it was interesting food for thought -

Let me know what you find.