Had an email the other day from a part-time theological student up at Durham (called Tom...no, honest, just a joke...). He quoted my suggestion that people need to know the difference between Emergent and Emerging. This is what he asked:
I'm in the middle of doing an end of term essay on the differences. Myexperience of EC is all book and web stuff. I think I have worked out mostof the differences but if you are able to suggest a good bullet point listsomewhere I would welcome the help.
A good point and I don't know of anywhere where the differences are made clear - it seems to be more of a gut reaction thing? Anyway, if you know of a good, short, bullet-pointed list - let me know! But this is the rather more wordy response I sent to Bob and which he has agreed that I might share on here:
Not really…sorry. The essential difference for me is the interpretation of emerging church/fresh expression stuff over here in the UK and the link with institutionalism/church planting and postmodernism in the states. I think emerging church in the UK/Antipodean cultures is more instinctually a postmodern phenomenon arising from Gen X explorations and so on but with a church-planting/evangelism bent. I think that the emerging church in the
US (formally Emergent but with lots of spin-offs) has a huge baggage to carry around because the US is less consciously a postmodern society. I think that the US is fundamentally postmodern – especially in the concepts which underlie the American Dream, the use of power, the development of a media-saturated culture. Postmodernism is essentially a different beast in the UK (interesting phrase) since it is not predicated on the American Dream concept but on post-war, post-colonial cynicism. However, the is much more consciously postmodern and not too bothered about it. The US, the Bible belt in particular, and key elements within the US church seem categorically opposed to all things postmodern and as such suppress or repress the postmodern in an attempt to assert their modernist, scientific and rationalist identity. Evangelicalism is essentially a modernist, scientific and rationalist concept and as such evangelicalism runs counter to the philosophical background of (American) postmodernism – so McClaren represents the postmodern American dream – everyone can have a dream and aspirational evangelicalism can get you there – while Don Carson represents the anti-emergent process – only God can get you to really live the American Dream. In the UK, this kind of stand-off developed into post-evangelical and then post-liberal studies and the whole Gen X debate – what’s this about dreaming anyway?
Does this help at all? You might want to look at some of the counter PM/Emergent materials like Reclaiming the Centre and Scot Smith’s Truth and the New Kind of Christian.
Well, I quite liked the concepts I was playing with and thought I would blog them to see whether anyone wanted to play?