Horton on Emerging Church

Its not everyday that you hear a gracious and honorable critique of the emerging church by a thinking person. But I found one. I just heard Michael Horton give a good critique on the emerging church on a Lutheran radio show. (A hat tip to the lovely ladies at EmergentNo.blogspot.com for posting links to Michael’s thoughts). I dont agree with all that Michael says, but there are some good points that should be taken seriously.

Michael Who? Michael Horton, whose White Horse Inn program goes live tonight for the first time 6pm Pacific/ 9pm EST – CHECK IT OUT!), has has got his own share of criticism from rapidnet.com Michael is one of the voices in “The Church in Emerging Culture (ed. by Len Sweet) which is one of the better books on my shelf. He is a thoughtful guy from the Reformed Tradition. I like the guy and am glad he was chosen to give the critque. Heres the Skinny . . . for those who are interested. If not, move on to another post. (Really, the following conversation is TERRIBLY BORING!! – enter at your own risk!)

Michael is interviewed by Todd Wilken, who appears to be a controversialist radio talk show host, looking for the juciest emerging church gossip that will boost ratings. If that is not true, then my apologies to Todd. I do find it strange that he doesn’t deal with any emerging churches in the Lutheran scene but heads straight over to Brian McLaren. To give Todd the benefit of the doubt, he may not realize the great advances for the gospel in the emerging culture that the Lutherans have been achieving over the past 6 years. (I visited Spirit Garage in Minn. back in 1999). Why don’t the Lutherans start with their own house? Surely Todd cant be that ignorant???

BTW – Todd Wilken’s introduction of e-church is confusing. He doesn’t differentiate between emerging church (Em. Church) and electronic/ internet church (e-church) but the two are very different.

I haven’t listened to Program 1 yet. Maybe one of you will do that and give me the skinny.

Program 2 is well worth listening to. Like many recent critiques, it turns out to be more about Brian McLaren, but Michael seems fair and one who is open to listening. In fact, the radio host was egging him on to blast the heck out of emerging church but Michael spoke truthfully and didn’t bite the bait. I would even say that Michael found himself defending the broad and varied aspects of the emerging church that don’t easily give way to a reductionist dismissal. Well done Michael!!

But Michael does hand out a few worthy spankings to the emerging church as he has experienced it (The New American Standard Emergent Church). Here they are (but not in order):

Michael’s Worthy Spankings

1. He says the emerging church has catered to a sloppy pop-postmodern philosophy – and he has a point. Which is why many of us, having read that stuff in the mid to late 90’s, moved on to other ways of framing the conversation. But I also, on occasion, come across a juvenile fascination with pop-philosophers from a few decades back – and I am equally embarrassed.

By the way, many French thinkers are tackling the gift economy and issues of generosity – but are being ignored by MSM because of their lack of appeal (not sloppy-poppy enough).



Note To Self:
I need to rigorously deal with thoughtful philosophers (dangitt – i thought i already was!!!) so that I can speak prophetically into my world, and communicate well so that people don’t think i am “catering” to the philosophies of our age.

2. They are really young and too demographically separated -There are no old people and the oldest leader of one emerging church was only 28 years old.

This can be true and unfortunate. I can pull out personal examples of intergenerational worship inside the emerging church but these might be the exceptions. Its possible that emerging church people are not very good at winning elderly people into the Kingdom – the minds of older people are more settled than young people, who are still making life decisions. But then, to be honest, I dont see the traditional church doing very well with the older people either, except for some death bed conversions in nursing homes. For both traditional and emerging churches, younger people are more responsive to the call of Jesus and church starting efforts that are not focused on stealing sheep, will inevitably be populated with lots of young people.  Jesus disciples were also young, but were not exclusive.

Note To Self: Lets not be churches FOR youth but be churches BY youth FOR everyone! I should do a better job of mentioning and including the older people who mentor me and speak into my life, like Thom Wolf.

3. The Emerging Church can seem to be anti-Seminary. Well . . . I have been a little skeptical about Seminaries. but I have also had great learning experiences at American seminaries – Fuller School of World Mission, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. But I found the cost of ministry training in the seminaries to be prohibitive. I made it through by selling my house but it wasnt enough to help me finish off my degree. Also, I feel that basic Seminary education is insufficient for ministry in the emerging culture. Watchman Nee, on a trip from China to England, criticized the English theological education by saying that after all those years of “training”, the graduates still could not cast out a demon. Decades later, there are still seminary graduates who dont know how to cast out a demon, or start a church without money, or even throw a good party.  I agree with my Baptist missionary friend, David Garrison (Church Planting Movements) when he notes that, historically, heresy usually stems from higher education and foreign elements. I also acknowledge the significant research of Christian Schwartz (Natural Church Development) who discovered that higher amounts of seminary education led to less success in church growth.

Note To Self: We may think the Seminaries need a lot of help, but lets be part of the solution. BTW – Fuller Seminary was host to a significant gathering of Emerging Church leaders, including myself, last week. Biola hosts an emerging church gathering either this week or next. We should embrace these new partnerships.

4. The Emerging Church seems to be Vague and Avoids Certainty. “Even the best stuff i have come across is very vague” Well, sometimes we do seem vague. Brian McLaren’s appeal to Jesus and the Kingdom parables is a valid one – Using parable and narrative is sometimes the best way to approach Pharisees, but it can frustrate people and can give the appearance of hiding truth rather than explaining it.

And sometimes I am not really sure on things, I have to admit.

God? Yes.

My theology? No.

Bible? Yes!

My interpretation of it? Not really. But sure enough to take a step of faith out into my world. How sure do you have to be? If I was absolutely certain of everything, why would I need faith.

Am I certain of the Biblical meaning of the 4th head of the second beast in the Book of Revelation? Yes! . . . i mean . . No!

Do I believe the Book of Revelation? Yes

Job’s friends were certain of their truth, but they were certainly wrong. Job himself was not certain of why God was allowing his scabs to grow unchecked on his body but he was certain of the One in whom he believed.

For what is it worth, and if anybody is listening (this will probably be dismissed and forgotten) but I am absolutely convinced, beyond doubt, in the One True God and his Son Jesus Christ. He is true and his word is truth. He died for sinners and died for me. He is my Saviour. That truth is both propositional and narrative and I believe it both ways, sideways and upwards and downwards and i am living out my life in accordance with that Truth. Dannggittt!!!! Why cant you people hear me??? Are your ears closed???? Or will you only listen to what you want to hear???

Jesus loves me this i know

for the bible tells me so

I believe in truth. However, I am not completely sure that my last sermon is the absolute truth. Nor do I think that these words I am writing are absolutely true, and to say that my words, or any other human construct born in the minds of men and women, are true on the same level as the Personhood of God . . . is an insult to God is who far more TRUER than anything i can come up with down here on this side of eternity where i see dimly, as if through a glass.

[But you didn’t hear me say that. What you heard is; “Blah Blah blahBlah”]

So you could say that my view of Truth is HIGHER than my fundamentalist friends, because I am not willing to place my theological constructs, sermons, blog posts and articles on the same level as Jesus who IS the Truth and the most accurate representation of the Father, certainly more accurate than my thoughts on Chardin’s Noosphere, which, although interesting and perhaps enlightening (and somewhat FADDISH) are open to critique and accountability because I AM SUSPICIOUS of everything I think up with my mind which is stained by sin and encultured by my unique background. Therefore I do not trust the sweetest frame but only lean on Jesus name – all other ground is sinking sand – and that simply means that my sweet frames may help but they will never take the place of God’s truth.

But

. . and partly because of my suspicion of my sweet frames and the sweet frames of others, I am more open to dialogue with those who hold different beliefs than me – and this is what gets me and us in trouble.Because some people are not able to believe that we can hold a conversation with others of a different opinion without totally abandoning our belief system. 

Note To Self: I need to be clear that my hold on the One True God and his True Message is strong and even stronger than before. Otherwise I will give the impression of being vague and open to anything . . . which is not true.I also need to be more clearer on the things I think are FALSE, even though i will be criticized for being divisive.

5. Emerging Church is Faddish. Yes . . sometimes immature emerging churches get over excited about connecting with culture, unlike their fathers church. I have seen this also.

But not always. Some of us reject current trends and get persecuted for it.  When fads catch up to what i am doing, (it occasionally happens) i often think about getting out. Blogging is now a fad and believe me, I am very tempted to quit because of that. I hate fads and anything faddish. I am soooooo insulted to be accused of being faddish.

I am currently starting a monastery in Orkney. Is that really a FAD??

I personally think that we are going back to non-faddish traditions that were neglected by the faddish contemporary church. However, much of our conversation does revolve around technology, fashion, culture and that gives the impression that we are shaped by what we talk about rather than finding redemptive analogies within our culture, like Paul in Athens.



Note To Self:
I have to shout it out much louder . . . that I am trying to be missional and i don’t care whether my stuff is part of the newest fad or not.

Also, despite what Michael said, I dont think that books are the staple for this movement and only academics like Michael say things like that.

Much more to say . . . There are more things there . . . but i have to make some pizza for my family and enjoy my Friday night. God forbid we all get bogged down in this stuff and don’t get to eat pizza!!!!

VIVA LA PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!

And let me say, in parting – Michael Horton did a great job in critiquing us – I wish all our critics were as kind, considerate, thoughtful, and relational as he was.

I hope he becomes an example of how to do it right

And Michael (i know you will read this) thanks for a few good thoughts to get us repenting and moving forward into the kind of church we need to be if we are to represent Jesus in this wild and crazy world of ours.

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” :-)

45 Comments

  • Bravo, bravo. Well said Andrew, well said. This post is a ‘keeper’ for sure. Staff meetings should be this open and honest, intelligent and articulate, open to change yet standing up for what we believe. Excellent work.

  • Boring- in a pig’s eye!
    Great (yes!) thoughts, Andrew. Thank you.
    The idea of “monastic” may turn into a fad, if it hasn’t already, but actually trying to live it does away with faddish notions quite neatly.
    God’s peace on you and your house.
    Dana

  • Andrew, you ROCK!
    Much better statement of where we need spanking than my feeble attempts with the “projectiles” post a few days ago!
    Off to listen to Horton…

  • I think we need a new word. Somewhere along the way, truth started to mean the same thing as certainty, and knowledge became bound up in truth. I’ve been struggling through this recently, because I really don’t think of myself as post-foundational. The tools of rationality and logical deduction are strong, robust, useful, and important! But at the same time, if we’re trying to use them to establish some sort of Cartesian certainty, we will most certainly (ha-ha!) fail.
    So I need a new word, a word that means ‘something I know, and have great confidence in, without having certainty, which comports with reality strongly enough to be called true.” I need this word, because most of my theology falls into this category, and I need a way to talk about it that doesn’t set off fire alarms.

  • Really Andrew? (Andrew Jackson THE OTHER AJ) – well i better check it for errors because your readers are a lot more harsher than mine. . . ha ha

  • and J.R.
    I will send readers your way WHEN there is something worth reading on your site – Let me know in an email when something BIG and NEWSWORTHY comes up.
    In the meantime, if you want to get your stats up, (signing up to technorati helps), remember that
    Google tracks how many sites link back to you and if you comment often on other sites with a link back to your site then you will increase your Google rating.
    And of course, the best way to increase your ratings is to WRITE WORTHY CONTENT and give it away freely – Google favors the gift givers –
    “There is one who gives freely and gains even more” (Proverbs)
    peace
    THE BLOGOSPHERE IS ADVANCING THROUGH FORCEFUL MEN AND WOMEN WHO LEAVE TRAILS.

  • Lots to chew on for quite a while. Mucho Gracias! This IS the kind of dialogue we need to be having – mature, healthy, receptive, and in love. Thank you Michael Horton and Andrew. Adele PS i found your entries at the very bottom and on the side.

  • hey – found the problem – i posted an image yesterday that was too large and everyone with explorer saw my messed up version
    sorry everyone with explorer (you non-Mozilla PC users)
    thanks for the heads up

  • A great post Andrew. I think one of the great acid tests for emerging communities will be (note future tense) whether they go on to create further new communities, committed to the gospel. If we do, then who cares what anyone else thinks or says? But I think the phenomenon is too young to make that judgement at the moment.

  • Whatever our understanding of truth and certainty is it must fit in to what the book of Hebrews says about ‘full assurance of faith.’ I don’t think we can limit that to just ’emotional’ certainty. I’m sure this is talking about something that is rational and emotional, ‘objectively’ and ‘subjectively’ true.

  • Thanks for drawing my attention to this one. Horton edited a book called “power religion” back in the early 90s that proved to be on the money about a lot of the porblems with the church growth movement and since then I’ve tried to keep an ear out for his ideas. he is not a “seek and destroy” evangelical like others who have emerging churches in their sights at the moment.

  • Great statements. I like the realization that many, if not most, people who critique EC loudly will not hear your declarations of belief.

  • tim – always nice to get another authoritative reformed voice in the conversation.
    Hebrews – YES!!! Thanks!! and we learn also in Hebrews that faith is the assurance of things unseen –
    i think we have to
    1. avoid the danger of letting certainty from scientfic research methods (idolatry) replace true faith in what is UNSEEN, and
    2. beware of the certainty that leads to nihilism, as Leslie Newbigin warned (in his book Proper Confidence: Faith Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship and as Jason Clark was reflecting on recently in the shower.
    i am scratching my head on the “emotional” certainty – i dont remember anyone bringing up that word or making reference to it. but i see your point and agree we must be balanced, thoughtful, studious and not emotional airheads.
    And Fernando, I bought that book, Power Religion, along with Charasmatic Chaos when it came out and preached a 4 week series at the baptist church where i was pastoring.
    However, I have to take a step back – I no longer believe it was on the money – I didnt bring it up because it was a long time ago and Michael Horton might also have second thoughts, especially after the rigourous and thoughtful position paper by Wayne Grudem that makes a strong case and is worth downloading. Although it brings up the D.A. Carson (one of the books’s authors) issue all over again, which I really dont want to get into right now.
    But your point is exactly correct – he is a lovely guy and respected by all – and not in a reactionary mode. He is our friend and any criticism he can provide will be considered seriously, as I have begun to do.

  • I’ll put in a plug for Biblical Seminary (www.biblical.edu) as one attempting to do seminary education differently. I’m in an accellerated MDiv program there and it’s significantly different from the traditional model. Biblical is the seminary where John Franke teaches and it’s also a partner w/ eTrek, hosting courses and offering credit.

  • Yikes. I don’t know why my voice should be considered ‘authoritative!’ I doubt that it is either louder or deeper than yours. (But it is older.)

  • Nice blog Andrew.
    And nice to see what Horton is saying; he’s worth listening to and I applaud how you have listened to him.
    To Timbo: see my summary blogs of Carson’s book.

  • I’m a regular listener to the Issues, Etc. broadcast (but then again, I enjoy pain.)
    Your characterization of Wilken as a clueless sensationalist is right on the mark.
    IE used to be a pretty fair show on apologetics when Don Matzat was hosting. But when Matzat retired and Wilken took over, the show went due south really fast.
    I also seriously doubt if Wilken knows there are any LC-MS emergent churches. Since “Spirit Garage” is ELCA, that may explain why it wasn’t mentioned. Wilken only seems to recognize the Missouri Synod…that may be because it’s LCMS that produces the show.

  • I gave that 5 Perspectives on the Emerging Church book a go about 6 months ago and had a hard time wading through Andy and Michael’s sections. I just didn’t quite connect with them. Though their current critiques are surely much more nuanced now, this post has now inspired me to give it another crack.
    I’ll at least say for now that I wasn’t quite sure how to read them. Perhaps I read them as combative or dismissive of the EC. It would seem well worth my while to give them another crack with this new perspective. God bless deconstruction!

  • I blogged concerning this as well.
    As I listen to Michael Horton and others of conservative Calvinsim, I feel that we who are both “Reformed” and “Emergent” must make very clear is that a hallmark of Reformation Theology is “semper reformata” (“always reforming”). This slogan needs to be trumpeted more and more, especially as Emergent is criticized more and more by Reformation Theologians.

  • hi andrew,
    as a previous commentor said, this radio show is from a lutheran church missouri synod persepctive.
    apostleschurch.org (seattle) and spirit garage in minneapolis are both ELCA churches and the folk who do this show did not mention either church, as we are both ELCA (evangelical lutheran church in america) the largest lutheran church in north america which is often labeled more ‘progressive,’ where the missouri synod is often called more ‘conservative,’ – both words which we with an emergent ethos find to be unhelpful holdovers from modern silo, ‘this or that’ ‘black or white’ labeling.

  • hi karen
    oopppsss – i forget you were Lutheran – must have slipped my mind – i should have mentioned you in the first blog . . .. but then the West Coast is another country . . . isnt it?

  • Re: “I am currently starting a monastery in Orkney. Is that really a FAD??”
    Yes,it is really a FAD. A sad fad. Like evangelical Protestants everywhere, the “Emergent” sub-species is afflicted with Tragically Hip Syndrome. Where the generic Evangelical tends to be a decade or so late in following the pop culture fads, Emergents have managed to cut lag years off of lag time.
    But in the case of “Monasticism Chic”, the TSK protests too much methinks. Get thee to a library and read Time Magazine’s coverage of that fad (1998): http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ article/0,9171,1101980803-139669,00.html
    The idea of evangelical Protestants aping the ancient monastic traditions of the Roman Catholic and Orthodoxy (as if cool robes, incense, prayer/liturgy books and candles a monastery maketh) would be comical if not so sad.
    I understand that “Celtic” spirituality is faddishly embraced by a lot of Emergents, but has any of these people actually cracked open a real book, say Life of St. Columba or the Venerable Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” to get a real picture of what a Celtic monastery was really about?
    They were rock solid Catholic (Orthodox/Roman Catholic, universal and pre-Schism) with REAL Bishops (i.e. Apostolic Succession), Sacraments, all the “cool stuff” that are now rejected by Protestants of this Emergent age as they were by the Prots of Henry VIII’s time at the very Dissolution of the Monasteries.
    An evangelical Protestant monastery is a kosher as a Jewish cheeseburger, though it would have the cheese-factor in common.

  • The idea of an “Emergent” monastery reminds me of what is called a “theme park” (amusement center) here in the U.S. A
    Around where I live, there is one that calls itself “The Old Country.”
    The park is divided into sections like: England, France, Germany, Switzerland, etc. In each section you will see employees in costume, ethnic-type cuisine served, perhaps a facade or two of a famous landmark and lots of rollercoasters.
    What would one think of someone who patronized this theme park and said to you, “Who needs to visit Europe when we’ve got it all here? And with ROLLERCOASTERS yet! Better than the original!”
    Daft. You’d think them daft.
    It saddens me to think of a theme-park monastery going up in the place (and on the ruins of?) a genunine Celtic monastery. Ever wonder why there are so few of those wonderful Celtic/Pictish stone crosses in Scotland? Ever wonder why there are so many scenic RUINS of monasteries in Scotland? Why, it was the spiritual forebears of today’s Evangelical/Emergents who smashed the crosses and destroyed the monasteries. And now their direct spiritual descendants want to put up some facades in their place?!
    A tragedy and a mockery of the “White Martyrdom” of true monasticism of the Celtic and Pictish monastic Saints of Old!
    St. Columba, St. Patrick, St. Cuthbert, St. David, pray for these poor deluded souls!

  • hi joe
    thanks for your counsel.
    why do people think robes and stone buildings when we say “monastery”?
    God is raising up young people around the world to go on pilgrimage with him and we desperately need a new types of pilgrimage centers that excel in hospitality, spiritual guidance, new media resourcing, and training for ministry in the emerging culture.
    If these centers of missionary training get called faddish, then we will just have to deal with the criticism.
    Like the Celtic style monasteries that preceded us, we will be a pilgrimage center for the thousands of young people called by God into a new way of missions. We will be a place of prayer and study of God’s Word. Much of our influence will be on the internet. We will be a cultural center for our local community, training people for new media storytelling and resource development. (We start a blogging class at the local internet cafe in a few weeks).
    Since we have little money, and are just finding our way, our little monastery will have to “EMERGE” organically, with the help of local people, and will do so with a decentralised leadership and much communication – all the elements of emergent behavior that characterise ant colonies and many “emergent” churches that are developing in the same manner. Sorry if the name upsets you.
    yes, i have read those books and many more, back in the mid nineties when we were experiementing with a monastic center in san francisco as a point of reference for sharing the good news of Jesus with witches and pagans and others that were not impressed with traditional church structures.
    it wasnt faddish back in 1997 – when i said “Celtic” people thought i was saying “Cultic”. But if it is now, that is not a reason to stop.
    as for church history:
    – The Reformers were too late to smash the Celtic monasteries – they were generally taken over by the Catholic orders hundreds of years earlier.
    – The Reformers smashed churches as well as monasteries, and anything that contained decoration which could lead to idolatry. Their crowbar crusade, in my opinion, is not something to boast about nor emulate. It was “deconstructive” in the worst sense of the word.
    – for a 1000 years of missions history, almost every advancement for the church was acheived by monastic orders and travelling monks.
    – Orkney had monasteries from Colomba’s monks, Ninian’s monks, and also the Norweigans. It was far more complex than most people think. And the monasteries did not actually have large chapels or buildings, since the monks worshipped outdoors in the rain – sometimes a small shelter for the elements was set up and these remain.
    As for those who would like to learn of monastasicm and follow Jesus in the way of the Celtic monks and in the manner of the missionaries of Luke 10- I would suggest a pilgrimage with God and some companions – to follow Jesus whevever he leads and trust him along the way – is a better way than just reading books.
    But i thank you for your thoughts.

  • I have a (rather confused)evangelical Protestant friend who just returned from a pilgrimage to Walsingham other places of Holy Britain. He knew that these places had a sacred history, yet when he struggled to explain the whys and hows of his pilgrimage, e.g. we prayed, we sat through an Anglican Mass, lit candles…but the last bit of his travelogue was startling, “But it’s not like we, uh, I believe in the Intercession of the Saints or anything like that!” A crying shame considering that the highlights of the pilgrimage: Walsingham (the Mother of God), St. Cuthbert and St. Alban were the supposed “highlights” of the pilgrimage.
    When I was in London last year, I visited two Orthodox Christian Cathedrals, one Russian and one Greek. Both places were setting up separate pilgrimages to the Holy places in Scotland ( particularly Iona) and Ireland. These Orthodox Christians recognize these Saints for who they are, not just for who they were in the deep and ruined past.
    In my own study of the pre-schism Saints of the West (particularly the monastics), I have been struck by the SAMENESS of the “path to Salvation” trod by these Western Saints and the path trod by their Eastern brethren.
    As you seem to be well versed in the history of monasticism in the UK and Ireland, surely you must recognize that “pilgrimage centers” were places that the pilgrims were drawn to in order to touch the Divine, to experience the numinous life. They wanted a TOUCH of: A genuinely Holy Spirit filled Elder gifted with the miraculous powers of healing, discernment and even clairvoyance. They wanted to venerate relics (“the temple of the Holy Spirit not made by human hands”) of their beloved Saints, relics that also had (have) the power to heal.
    Best to call a spade a spade and a retreat center, a retreat center (or a retreat center with a monastic THEME).
    One should get themselves hence to traditional Russian, Romanian, Greek, Athonite monasteries if one wants to study the extant tradition of the Celtic monastic Saints, the traditiion of the Desert Fathers. Talk to the fathers, the Gerondas, the Abbas, even the brothers (novices).
    One of the marks of this Emergent fad is this gross assumption that the Ancient part of “Ancient-Future” is some sort of dead communion (literally and/or spiritually) from which the living “Emergents” can borrow/steal “treasures” in order to enrich their own experiences. Re-inventing the wheel, so to speak. There is no acknowledgement of the living, breathing, extant-not-extinct vitality of the Church, unto ages of ages. No, the Emergents would not only borrow-steal from the Liturgicals but would presume to take parts of their identity. Hence, a “retreat center” pretending to be a Celtic monastery.
    BTW, my study of monasticism is not just theoretical-bookish. One of my spiritual fathers is a Russian monk in said “traditional” (Russian Thebaid) monastery. A dear brother is now “Father” in an Athonite monastery, so I daresay, I know a little more about the continuing tradition of the Desert Fathers in this age and it ain’t in the Emergent (soon to be submerged) fad of 2005.

  • I don’t see the problem. Andrew is free to open a monastry if he likes. I don’t see that the orthodox have a monopoly on truth, so if he wants to do it differently then all power to his elbow.
    If you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to take any interest in it, Joe.
    J

  • re: “I would suggest a pilgrimage with God and some companions – to follow Jesus whevever he leads and trust him along the way.”
    I agree. All Christians are called to be “strugglers”, ascetics. We are all called to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
    The function of the Monastics is summed up by this saying that we have in the Orthodox Church:
    “Christ is the Light of the Angels. Angels are the light of monks. Monks are the light of men.”
    Also, monastics are known as the “sinew” that holds the Body of Christ together.
    Signposts to the Way and the very bindings that keep the Body of Christ moving, active and militant.
    Like Bishops and Priests and other clergy, monastics serve a very specific function within the Body of Christ. It is a very special calling from God and not something that one undertakes lightly (Hey, let’s start a monastery!). But then, that was/is the spirit of monasticism in the ancient West and East.
    I guess folks nowadays are free to do whatever the heck they want, tradition be damned.

  • TSK,
    Good luck on your retreat center. Perhaps even signposts need signposts and your r.c. can point the way to genuine monasteries, just like the taste of Toblerone or real Bavarian Gummi Bears in our “Old Country” theme amusement park might give one an appetite for the real Old Country.
    Funny, when I first heard about Emergent , I thought the words “REAL” and “AUTHENTIC” were more than just catchphrases.

  • thanks joe (and joe)
    i dont know much about the orthodox monastic pilgrimages, except what i have read from “The Way of a Pilgrim”
    the catholic style pilgrimages (toward a destination) differ greatly from the celtic way (the journey itself, without “highlights”) but one day i would love to study your tradition and learn from it.
    My ancestors have lived in Orkney for at least 900 years (my mother was a “Clouston” and i am a 29th generation Clouston who lives 3 miles from theo original homestead) and part of my desire is to touch into my own heritage and minister from a place that my family has known for centuries. The training and sending mission center (“retreat center” is too passive) will tap into my own historical roots and the pilgrimages will be focused towards bringing the good news of Jesus Christ into places we feel he is wanting to go.
    Some of the pilgrimages of the Middle Ages were honorable but many were a shambles and not to be emulated – the various Crusades, in particular the 4th Crusade that got sidetracked into Zara and Constantinople, were pilgrimages gone horribly wrong – and the Eastern Orthodox Church has reason to be wary of them.
    of course, the pilgrimages in the Scriptures are the most fascinating to me – the desert wanderings, the long communal walks to the annual Feasts. Even Jesus walked one of those each year – once he even got left behind . . .
    Thanks again for your thoughts. appreciate the advice. i want to honor the topic of this bloog post which is Michael Horton’s critique. So i would rather not pursue the subject of pilgrimage here.
    Pray for us that we do not get faddish. One of the influential books for me was Patrick Johnstones “The Church is Bigger Than You Think” in which he argues that the church has ALWAYS existed in at least 3 forms – the ecclesiastic-gathering, the [monastic]- training and the apostolic-mobile team. I dont think he would say that our models are faddish.
    But i do hear your heart for the church and the Body of Christ that must outlive the fads of culture . And always does.

  • good point, Andrew. this is a great post, and some great feedback.
    and i very much agree: Len Sweet’s intro to 5 Perspectives (Garden + Glen + Park + Meadow) is worth the price of the book. But Frederica certainly adds richness as well.
    you’ve inspired me to grin and bear and listen to Michael Horton’s rants.

  • Traditionalists now have permission to talk to Emergent types

    Don’t know if you have seen this, but flaming reformed stick in the mud Mike Horton has been talking to totally cool, cutting edge, tall skinny emergent man Andrew Jones.

  • Emergent Church Making Big News AND Controversy

    Until a few weeks ago I had no idea what an emergent church was. And I really try to stay on top of these things. I e-mailed my brother, a more charismatic type than me. He didn’t know about it either. But our church youth pastor, Josh, seemed concer…

  • I also seriously doubt if Wilken knows there are any LC-MS emergent churches. Since “Spirit Garage” is ELCA, that may explain why it wasn’t mentioned. Wilken only seems to recognize the Missouri Synod…that may be because it’s LCMS that produces the show.

  • “So you could say that my view of Truth is HIGHER than my fundamentalist friends, because I am not willing to place my theological constructs, sermons, blog posts and articles on the same level as Jesus who IS the Truth and the most accurate representation of the Father…”
    isn’t your claim that “Jesus is the Truth and the most accurate representation of the Father” just another theological construct?

  • Nathan,
    When did Andrew say that he didn’t have theological constructs. He merely aknowledged that his “constructs, sermons, blog posts and articles” are not on the same level of truth
    as Jesus “who IS the Truth”.
    There is always a distinction to be maintained between the representation/representatives and the one being represented.
    By the way, Andrew… I know it is silly that i should be so excited that you took the time to acknowledge my little link. You would not remember me, but we met back in Glorietta at the Young Leader Network gathering in ’98 that planted a seed in so many peoples’ hearts.
    I was in my final year of Seminary with the Lutherans here in the US, and was trying to discern a call to serve a new mission here. I’m friends with Karen Ward, and have worked with her, Nate Frambach, and the folks from the Spirit Garage to help cultivate conversation in our “tribe” regarding “emerging” matters.
    Your story that night of the bleeding woman is one of the most vivid memories I have of that event. (That and the rave worship that you, hosted. Even my breakdancing days didn’t prepare me for that! Ha!)
    So thanks for taking the time to post on my humble attempt at blogging. I’m not very good at self-promotion – so I’d rather promote what God is doing in and through you. Thank you for being a slave to Christ.

  • Andrew–
    Nice write-up, and interesting to hear about your work in Orkney. I would love it if you’d pop over to my site and comment on some of my “Open Source Church” articles. You might also enjoy “Crusader Hymn” — a short story involving a pilgrimage and the ambiguities of mixing religion and violence.

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