Responding to criticism of the Emerging Church
Darryl Dash asks whether it is worthwhile to respond to criticism of the EC. In most instances I’d say yes. Not everyone is going to understand and they are going say things that untrue or at least exaggerated. I think it is important to remember a few things.
The EC is the flavour of the month
In the minds of many conservative evangelicals the world is rapidly descending in to darkness, chaos and disorder. When a church movement comes up that looks relativistic it is seen as another sign of the coming tribulation. There are some who criticize the EC that would criticize a lot of respectable denominations. As a Mennonite/Anabaptist I know that our tradition would definitely be labeled a threat to the gospel by the some of the same critics. Mennonites aren’t the flavour of the month so they are generally ignored.
The EC is hard to nail down
This is probably one of the greatest frustrations for the critics and I don’t think they truly understand what holds this thing together. It seems hard to grasp that there is a worldwide church movement/conversation with no affirmed central leadership or common ideology. It is my hope that God is leading this thing and that we are all moving towards him from where we started. Because we all start from different places all along the theological spectrum it looks like the movement is a strange mixture of conservatives and liberals. I think God may be making a redemptive movement all across the Christian church and we find more unity in our general direction than our current positions.
After spending two weeks in Australia it became very clear to me that the EC has different flavours in different countries. The Aussies are hardcore in to mission, and less about alt. Worship.
I think a major factor in the EC is the Internet. It has facilitated a grass roots conversation and interchange between people from all sorts of backgrounds.
There is a lot of diversity and this is going to confuse people.
Not all critics are well educated
By walking through issues with other people we have an opportunity to show people that different Christians have different perspectives. We also can open some people up to some good interpretive practices.
We aren’t done yet
It is easy to disregard criticism that seems unfair. However going through the act of carefully responding to questions forces us to think through what we believe. Accountability can be a very good thing. As Christians we ought to make an attempt to explain how what we do, and what we believe is consistent with following Jesus Christ.