Thursday, July 24, 2008

Emerging bridges over troubled Anglican waters?

Bishop Alan relays some of Brian McLaren's teaching from the Anglican Lambeth Conference (interesting in itself to have the king of emergent on stage with the liberal anglicans):
"Most postmodern people don’t relish being far from God, bereft of hope and roots, isolated from loving community, part of the problem rather than the solution. But neither do they want to be religious fanatics, cultists, Us and Them dualists, Church hobbyists, Judgmental fantasists. They need authentic, sane, vibrant faith. Angicanism at its best is well placed to provide safe space to grow this: A gospel which prioritizes Jesus and the kingdom more than institutional religion, with a servant concept of ministry. A safe platform from which to develop creative fresh expressions of Church. A multicultural family, with global flexibility. A liturgy that at its best exibits mystery, beauty, rootedness, intelligence and clarity, biblical coherence, as opposed either to absolutism or bigoted, mean spirited zealotry."
Alan is "impressed with the logic of Brian's argument" and his confident omniscient declaration: "This generation feels increasingly orphaned by the manifest failures of conventional religion, science, government, technology, consumerism." So he's saying:

1. He knows that most pomo's [if there are (m)any?] don't want distance from God which is equated to hope and roots and community. We'll ok people want hope and community but this doesn't deal with the issue of human rebellion.... this make sthe diagnosis messy at best.
2. The alternative to being a non-Christian is painted as 'fanatics, cultists, hobbyists, fanatasists'. No-one wants to be that, but does McLaren seriously think much of the church really is that? The Emergent alternative is to be 'authentic, sane and vibrant' - and who wouldn't want to be that!! Should the church have integrity and life - yes - and much of it already does!
The more emergent stuff I read the more I feel sorry for Brian McLaren & co. Being generous to them, they must have grown up in some awful and isolated church to think that everything is as bad as they think it is.

In my Christian life I've been part of four local churches - none of which were as he paints, and in my student work I've had substantial contact with dozens of other churches - and again I still don't see any of these fanatics, cultists, hobbyists, fanatasists. Add to that picture the liberal-anglo-catholic church I was part of before I was a Christian - that lacked a lot but still wasn't as bad as McLaren paints.

The story of the bridge is fascinating though, and maybe there is a good illustration in it somewhere... maybe about how people have moved away from the unchanging gospel and need to come back to it. For all the apparent changes in the expression of sin in the 21st Century, the gospel remains the only hope and Jesus is and will build his church around that gospel.

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