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Si Johnston

Well put. Irredeemable...is that too strong? Peter Brierley's stats of more outside the church than in (in the UK at least) shows that the institutions are beyond the purview of most and that therefore, newness is likely to come in a more organic form from outwith our hallowed halls. I'm not sure how you 'create networks of support'. They are being created almost passively are they not?


Having read this and the linked blog, I'm wondering how Tony can derive this 'fall' narrative from what we know of church history. His argument is predicated upon the supposition that, at one time, denominations functioned properly...only 'now' have they been swerved from their original purpose. But even the most casual glance at church history would seem to say that there has been corruption at work within the structures (and leadership) of 'denominations' from the beginning! I'm suspicious of anyone or any group who tell me (even if only implicitly)that 'we're off to create something new and pure and untainted' - it would mean, for one thing, that I wouldn't be welcome. And yet, the Holy Spirit does lead people into new expressions of church - of course he does, always has done. It's just the whole 'we're more real church than you are' attitude which pisses me off...


I agree with you jonny that 'this kind of post is always guaranteed to create a reaction' but I find myself asking 'is it really worth it?' - I wonder if Maggi had either seen the post on theoblogy or been tipped off about it because yesterday she re-posted an old post which has a lot to say about the beating up on the established church (it's well worth a read) - it also illustrates something I have said a few times - that the US scene and take on 'emerging' is considerably different to the UK - since in the UK some of the most significant and long standing 'emergents' originate from, or are still linked with, the Anglican scene (ok all you who aren't but I think you know what I mean) I had to lie down in a hot bath for a long time to try and calm myself after following your link - shame on you ;0) - Mark, I also concur with your thoughts . . . I can feel a rant of my own coming on . . .


Interesting too that some of the older 'new forms' of church which were supposed to be so radical and different from the institutions that they had left - I'm thinking of Icthus and Pioneer - seem to have imploded because the original leaders and pioneers weren't able to pass on leadership to others nor let go of their power. Not that radical after all then.


Jenny is right, going back even further there have been movements that started out people discontent with the very unbiblical hierarchical structures within their own churches that had also adopted doctrines that were more based on ones personal beliefs than biblical teachings. These movements started off wonderfully but then came power struggles within the leaders of the movements that came because they thought there was certain things they felt were non-negotiable. There was division in what started out as a very unified movement and the results of those divisions were new denominations who felt their set of guidelines and beliefs were undoubtedly right and one would be foolish and even sinful for thinking differently. An innocent attempt at trying to restore the church to what God desires became what they most hated, and even now they exist (do not read thrive) feeling superior to other groups. Much of what it is resembles what many in the EC desire, its loose structure has no top leadership, no headquarters, no convention, no group that dictates its every move. It has no one headquarters that congregations are to send a portion of its collection. Every congregation is essentially autonomous, though some may have financial support from other congregations. Each congregation hires and fires their own preachers and ministers. The problem is there are groups of leaders and churches who try to mandate to others through papers and articles in magazines what is and is not appropriate and use “dirty politics” to fight what it sees as deviations from the truth and tries to take on the role of “defenders of the faith.” i am just afraid that the same will happen to the EC because of the fact that it is a movement made up of fallible humans who fight the same demons of pride and arrogance and who have no direct and obvious mandate from God on what is exactly the structure God desires. The most noble of ideas and desires is not immune to the diseases of the heart that we humans have.
This doesn’t mean do not try, it just means, beware of your humanity.

Jen Lemen

i like your points here jonny, but for these same reasons i find tony's post nap inducing. it's hardly ever going to be either/or and i just can't imagine a day when god decides that god likes one form of faith expression better than another (or finds it more pure, or more authentic or actually "new".) that is our personal cultural expression of protest and little more. it's all good and it's all horrible. somehow god shows up (and doesn't show up) in the mix of all it, much to our surprise (or horror). sorting it out might be a kind of spiritual practice for some with some merit, but right now it seems silly to me.

i'd rather spend my energy working on calling us to cross the lines and be together, than deciding who's emerging and who's not. who's the old wineskins and who's the new. if emergent truly has a mission to reveal god's light and love to the church and the world, time will convince us.

in the meantime, on with making meals, visiting the sick, loving widows and orphans and letting the spirit reveal her wild and wonderful ways in us as we move in the world.

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