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17/09/2008

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it's disappointing to hear an intelligent and otherwise thoughtful person saying things that clearly lack any sort of thoughtful and intelligent engagement. I agree with your points of contention.

'but we are definitely conscious of being part of a wider communion'

I am not sure if all faith collectives such as Ikon and the Garden (frequently mentioned as part of the EC network) inspired by Caputos 'religion without religion' deconstructive theology would consider themselves as part of the communion - in many ways they are post Christian. The growing influx of disillusioned ex-evangelicals means that this loose network will grow in the future.

Rodney

Rodney,

That particular sentence was in relation to us (safespace) as a community rather than the network... but taking those two (both of whom I know personally), I think they would see themselves in communion in terms of a wider (as I describe it) church (eg. the historic breadth of the church - the mystics, monastics, etc.) I think they would question the tight modern definition of "Church" or even "Communion" that might exclude them... but then I think many within the EC networks would too, even if they themselves where not in the same place as them i.e. excluded... and when one uses a phrase like post-Christian what does it mean - i.e. does it mean post-a modern/evangelical/orthodox definition of what it is to be a Christian? I agree with you in that some would def. feel a separation from what Christianity has become, and may even be pursuing God in ways which have never been mainstream, but I think most would still see some connection with other through the ages who have pursued God - though perhaps not with everyone/every expression of Christianity (but then neither do I) - though I think it is possible to see oneself connected with even those with who you strongly (maybe even fundamentally) disagree if there is a willingness to be inclusive... and I guess there are bound to be exceptions.

Incidentally did you hear Pete Rollins at Greenbelt on the "negation of the negation" - very interesting and worth downloading if you didn't.

sorry that is a very un-constructed reply i.e. I rambled... it's late and I've just got back from dinner at the Bishops! Honestly! ;)

Michael Nazir-Ali seems to be preoccupied with soundbites which with analysis don't actually match the facts. I guess he thinks along certain fairly fixed lines, which mainly favour institutionalised Church structures.

I'm not sure Mark - I am a friend of Petes and have been involved with Ikon. Groups like Ikon and the Garden occupy a grey ambiguous area at the edge of the Christian tradition and I like you would wish to be inclusive and not set boundaries. It still would not suprise me if they adopted the post-Christian tag to emphasise their growing sense of seperation from any strand of the Christian tradition but I could well be wrong!!

Hope you enjoyed tea with the Bishops!!

Rodney

Ye Gods but my spelling has got bad in the last post...

Rodney

Ummm.. sorry, but your "network" churches are anything but diverse. They are narrowly defined social clubs, comprised of people who live, think, and act just like you. They are mostly from the same social strata.. and no matter how you attempt to frame it, let's be honest, diverse it ain't!

What Nazir-Ali is taking a stand for, is the core beliefs of Christianity, Christ's teachings, which means something that probably terrifies a bunch of spoiled, affluent twits like yourself.. having to walk the walk, instead of just talking the talk. Y'know, the true implications of what loving one's neighbor, kindess, decency and giving.. those things that require you to do more than merely squawk about, and demand that others do things that you excuse yourself from having to, because you believe you're above obligation (hypocrite!).

Hi Jenny, thanks for the comment... it's so full of assumptions and prejudice TBH I don't know where to start... I presume we've never met? You've certainly never visited our community - because your caricature couldn't be farther from the truth... but hey don't let the truth get in the way of a good argument! Our particular community is a mix of people; from a wide mix of Christian tradition and theologies - from Charismatic to Anglican, Methodist to Baptist, from Emerging to People who have never been to a Church in their life, from those who have been followers of Christ for most of their life to people who have encountered God only recently etc. etc. and we are def. not affluent in fact if there is a dominant "class" in safespace it is "working class" (though some of us may well be twits ;-) we're certainly not perfect!) the one thing we do all share is our passion for "walking the walk" as you put it... but if you'd read around our web site before jumping in you might have acknowledged that. I'm not sure where the last sentence comes from (certainly not from me/us) so I can only assume you have encountered some folk who do that, I'm sorry for that but please try not to project your bad experiences onto people you have never met.
Shalom
Mark

Maybe Jenny is talking about Emerging churches in general (whatever that might mean). There is a common perception that these are small groups of groovy 20s and 30s, generally middle class, degree educated etc. Obviously that is not correct in your case, Mark.

What is undeniably true is that all of us - in churches of all descriptions and styles - need to constantly re-examine ourselves against the demands of the Christ of the gospels. And we do need to ask ourselves whether we are slaves to our church structures or servants of God, because I am not sure we can be both.

I totally agree Joe, we do need to be constantly asking questions and examining ourselves... and I share your concern about becoming slaves to structure, I'd also add that it is possible for people/churches to become slaves to a theological "genre" and so slaves to the culture... We are Evangelical/Emerging/Charismatic/Reformed/etc and so only read books by Evangelical/Emerging/Charismatic/Reformed/etc writers etc. sure there are going to be some with whom we resonate more naturally, but I do think we should be both critical and attentive of counter voices... at the same time we should have the courage to be honest about what we hear/read, of both those we count "our own" and those from other "camps" (TBH I'd love to get rid of things/language like "camps" and "labels" etc. but I guess they are part of human nature?)

I know and respect Nazir-Ali, and that's what frustrated me, that someone who has the capacity and the experience to think more deeply was so lazy in his criticism... he should know better than to spout "common perception" which more often than not is only a partial picture at best... it made me wonder whether this was more about who he was speaking to that who he was speaking about... and I'm not simply saying he was wrong, sure there are some communities/Fresh expressions which his comments do accurately reflect, but the idea that it is only Emerging communities that are white, middle class, mono-culture, consumerist is ridiculous... and IME the large, sub/urban, commuter, Evangelical Churches look far more like the Churches he describes than the emerging communities I know.

in my experience there is something of a monoculture in some 'emerging/fresh expressions' circles. But you are absolutely right in saying that its just as true, if not more so, of the majority of evangelical church fellowships I've seen.

Simon, yes you are right, a fair few emerging/alt communities do look pretty mono-culture - I suppose there are several reasons for that, 1) some communities have emerged in relationship/friendship/peer groups, 2) some exist in a particular place in emerging culture, 3) some reflect a particular demographic and 4) unfortunately some are pretty exclusive! I hope that as we begin to reflect a more emergence/missional paradigm we will see more groups that may be mono-culture in their own right because they reflect the indigenous cultural reality, but are inclusive and open to "random elements"... I also hope we continue to address questions of leadership and participation in both communities and the networks.

Going back to Rodney's comments - it is interesting that within the networks we are beginning to see people in a kind of post-christian moment who still see their journey in relation to the christian story and want to be part of the networks/conversation. I think communities like Ikon and the Garden may have folk who would call themselves post(or even pre)-christian but still see some flow from that story and want to engage in the reflection & both, I think, would recognize that there are people in different places in relation to christianity within their individual communities. I still think both communities whilst being critical of Christendom would still set their stories within a wider story of christianity... I guess they would both probably say something like... "It all depends on what you mean by "Christianity" ;) which TBH so would I!

Mmmm... which to my mind makes it a little awkward that you appear to be funded/supported/founded by the Anglican church (or maybe I mis-remembered that. A lot of small emerging congregations seem to be associated more-or-less with the Anglican church).

On another topic, did you see Julie Clawson on post-modernism and goals (http://julieclawson.com/2008/09/16/motivation-and-the-kingdom/)? Be interested to see what you think.

sorry, the ) messed up that code.

Yes, your right... I receive a half stipend from the Diocese, which could make things interesting... so far we have received full support... we'd maybe have to head over a new bridge if things changed... but, at this stage the community has a life of it's own which I believe would hold whatever happened... but we do "enjoy" the accountability and connections that both The CofE and CMS provide at the moment.

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