Not Reformation

Is the Emerging Church attempting to reform the existing church? I was responding to a comment on an emerging church definition that likens it to a new reformation. What I said was . .
” I dont think Reformation describes what we are doing, and the vandalism of the reformation (destroying art and church buildings, etc) is actually the opposite. I feel we are seeking to unite the body of Christ and reconcile it from a fragmented Christianity, not fragment it further by reformation. Our goal is not to reform the church, but to be the church for a very different group of people.”

BTW – Orkney Islands, where i live, has 2 churches that survived the Reformation. Now thats “Deconstruction” for ya! One was the St Magnus Cathedral, that must have been too difficult to knock down with sledge hammers, and the other one was St Boniface church that was built in the 8th century or perhaps earlier.. I am not sure why the reformers didn’t smash that one. Maybe they were having a bad day? 😉
Better word than Reformation? I like “Renaissance” since it points to a rediscovery of the past as well as to the fact of a very different present.

Is the Emerging Church attempting to reform the existing church? I was responding to a comment on an emerging church definition that likens it to a new reformation. What I said was . .
” I dont think Reformation describes what we are doing, and the vandalism of the reformation (destroying art and church buildings, etc) is actually the opposite. I feel we are seeking to unite the body of Christ and reconcile it from a fragmented Christianity, not fragment it further by reformation. Our goal is not to reform the church, but to be the church for a very different group of people.”

BTW – Orkney Islands, where i live, has 2 churches that survived the Reformation. Now thats “Deconstruction” for ya! One was the St Magnus Cathedral, that must have been too difficult to knock down with sledge hammers, and the other one was St Boniface church that was built in the 8th century or perhaps earlier.. I am not sure why the reformers didn’t smash that one. Maybe they were having a bad day? 😉

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

12 Comments

  • Hey, just a historical note: the art-smashers were what history has come to call the “Radical reformers,” not the ones who followed Luther. Luther’s manner of numbering the Commandments (he combines “no graven images” into “no other gods before me” and gives “coveting” two commands) even reflected his negative view of those who would deface ecclesiastical art in the name of “reformation.” He was most explicit of his support of the musical arts (second only to theology), but saw the visual arts as wonderful servants of the Gospel as well.
    I’d also argue that Luther, and those who followed him, emphatically did not desire church splits. Luther and the reformers did not want fragmentation, but the response they got from those “in power” led down that road.
    FWIW. YMMV.

  • I think that some of the people characterized under the label of emerging church do have similar goals to those of Luther and those who were actually seeking church reform, but not those who ended up demolishing churches and art and eventually split the church. I think part of the problem with trying to define the emerging church is that there are many people with many different goals who have all been put under the umbrella of “emergent.” They all have some goals in common, but not all goals in common, because they are serving in different capacities in different places.

  • Rennaisance and Reformation… the two went together, at least in one way of thinking about it. You might say that the Reformation, with its radical liberation of the individual (priesthood of all believers, etc.) had its parallel in the artistic (and humanistic) wave of the Rennaisance. Seems to me some of what emergence is about is bringing ye Rennaisance into the fold of ye Reformation. Or, imagine it this way, the rediscovery of Scripture and the dinigty of the “laos theou” (the laity/people of God) need not have been kept seperate from Rennaisance. I ramble. In many ways those things weren’t kept seperate. Emergent is not, of course, a simple recapitulation of either Rennaisance or Reformation. But there *was* so much to aspire to in those clasic movements. Note that they happend to the whole of society, not just the church. I think what’s driving Emergent, as well as the general dissatisfaction with church in the west, has its roots deep down in the culture. Herein endeth the ramble…

  • I was glad to hear you say that emergent was not another reformation. I’m new to the emergent movement, and still trying to get my head on straight, so to speak, but that kind of talk gives me the willies. The last reformation split the church into thousands of fragments and we’re only now starting to pick up the pieces. God preserve us from another one.

  • Thomas – great comment and great questions.
    – Is the emerging church attempting to bring Renaissance into the Reformation?
    – Is Emergent a recapitualtion of the Renaissance?
    i also see a lot of patterns, but to keep them clear in my mind, i would have to firstly divide Emerging Church into distinct stages, and then look at the Renaissance as it happened in stages also, because there are interesting parallels and a unique recapitulation of the part of the emerging church.
    By the way, i feel the High Renaissance (1500-1530) is parallel to the successes of modernity in the mid 20th century, and the postmodern period is linked to the early and late/post eras of the Renaissance. This is why i dont equate immediately the emerging church with High Renaissance, but see it as responding initally to a High Renaissance kind of Modernity.
    Emerging Church STAGE 1 (Barn Burning). The emerging church in its initial deconstrucitve, suspicious, reactionary stage, is most similar to the Post-Renaissance period, or The Age of Mannerism (1530-1600) which is when much of the Protestant Reformation was happening.
    Mannerist art was a reaction to the perfection of the High Renaissance, and leaned towards discontinuity, extremism, and the bizarre. MTV has been called “Mannerist Art”.
    Emerging Church STAGE 2 – (Dumpster Diving) This is the stage where the emerging churches are redicovering what they missed out on, past history, and the Other. It corresponds to the Early Rennaissance (1300-1500) which was a time of rediscovery (of classical Greek and Roman architecture) and a time of small experimental steps with new methods that no one really new how to use to the fullest potential
    Emerging Church Stage 3 (Lego Land) – a time of building with new blocks, non-reactionary, without finding identity from the past, succeeding with the new ways. This finds its parallel with the Baroque period (1600-1750), an attempt toward harmony and grandeur, cross-disciplinary understanding (like today’s emergence theory in complexity), emotional, powerfully imaginative, but also appropriate and proper.
    Dang – thats quite a mouthful, or screenful in this case – i should really start another post with it.
    Anyway, I might be quite wrong in this,or perhaps i am quite right but only know half of it, but there’s some thinking out loud. Thanks again for your comment . . . and “YES” i agree with you.

  • EC Reformation

    Link: TallSkinnyKiwi: Not Reformation. Two links today to Andrew’s site on whether or not the ECM is a reformation movement or not. The other link: Second Link: Is Emerging Church a Renaissance Recapitulation?. Worth a read.

  • Some things I haven’t yet had the time to read…

    * “Not Reformation,” by Andrew Jones
    * “Is Emerging Church a Renaissance Recapitulation?,” by Andrew Jones
    * “Emergent Is…,” by Bill Arnold
    * “Emergent Is…pt.2,” by Bill Arnold
    * “Two sides of the same (dogmatic) coin,” by Steve Bush

  • Some things I haven’t yet had the time to read…

    * “Not Reformation,” by Andrew Jones
    * “Is Emerging Church a Renaissance Recapitulation?,” by Andrew Jones
    * “Emergent Is…,” by Bill Arnold
    * “Emergent Is…pt.2,” by Bill Arnold
    * “Two sides of the same (dogmatic) coin,” by Steve Bush

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