This post is offered in mindful acknowledgment of my new friendship with Peter J. Walker, who is an up-and-coming voice within the Movement….

From Wikipedia:

The emerging church (sometimes referred to as the emergent movement or emergent conversation) is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, protestant, roman catholic, post-evangelical, anabaptist, adventist, liberal, post-liberal, reformed, charismatic, neocharismatic, post-charismatic, conservative, and post-conservative. Proponents, however, believe the movement transcends such “modernist” labels of “conservative” and “liberal,” calling the movement a “conversation” to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature, its vast range of standpoints, and its commitment to dialogue. Participants seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a “postmodern” society. What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community.

Here is the Movement’s home base:

Emergent Village is a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Here is one of the Movement’s Big Poobahs:

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, pastor, and networker among innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists.

He is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs. He has appeared on many broadcasts including Larry King Live, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and Nightline. His work has also been covered in Time (where he was listed as one of American’s 25 most influential evangelicals), Christianity Today, Christian Century, the Washington Post, and many other print media.

Born in 1956, he graduated from University of Maryland with degrees in English (BA, summa cum laude, 1978, and MA, in 1981). His academic interests included Medieval drama, Romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy. In 2004, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree (honoris causa) from Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

[…]

Brian has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors since the mid 1980’s, and has assisted in the development of several new churches. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer at seminaries and denominational gatherings,nationally and internationally. His public speaking covers a broad range of topics including postmodern thought and culture, Biblical studies, evangelism, leadership, global mission, spiritual formation, worship, pastoral survival and burnout, inter-religious dialogue, ecology, and social justice.

Another Poobah:

Tony [Jones] is the author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier and is theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. He is the author of many books on Christian ministry and spirituality and is a sought after speaker and consultant in the areas of emerging church, postmodernism, and Christian spirituality. Tony has three children and lives in Edina, Minnesota.

Poobah the Third:

Hi, I am Doug [Pagitt]. Thanks for visiting my site. When it comes to these sorta-formal, non-personal, psueo-professional introductions I like to refer to myself as a social and theological entrepreneur (something I would never do if we were to meet in person).

My work-life has a few aspects to it.

* * *

I have not read any of the Movement’s books, but I’ve been reading associated blogs and listening to various podcasts (like this one, which is really fun — lots of beer, clinking glasses, laughter and other assorted bar sounds).

My impression is that there is very, very little organization going on in this movement, by design. There is an aversion toward top-down hierarchical control, and an admirable recognition of myriad social justice issues that inform emerging theology in ways that I respect.

Part of me wonders, where the hell were these people in 1982, when I left the church in disgust? Where were the “homebrewed Christians” who love to unwind with a cold alcoholic beverage while discussing the Five Points of Calivinism?

Another part of me notices that I went through my “busting out” phase a long time ago, such that partying has long-ago been replaced by the self-arising bliss, joy and ecstasy of a rigorous contemplative lifestyle — and I now long for a Christian movement that recognizes and honors Christianity’s ecstatic beginnings:

1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

No, we don’t have to run around speaking in “other tongues.”

From direct experience, however (as reflected in many Eastern scriptural and teaching texts), the spiritual gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12-14 are alive and well in the experiences of rigorous and skillful contemplatives, many of whom offer mutual support in peer environments here and here. Beyond the institutional Church, there are many (like me) who grew up as Christians, who continue to experience a direct and profound connection with Jesus Christ… but who have encountered varying levels of demonization, repression, aggression, avoidance, disdain and marginalization by “the priesthhood,” such that they had to look elsewhere for succor, understanding and guidance.

The obvious question, then, is whether or not the Emergent Movement offers a place for exiled Christians whose devotional practice has given rise to ecstatic phenomena and are looking for biblical grounding, spiritual fellowship and safe harbor — in short, something resembling the scene created by first century Christians.

Is the ecstatic — which has been traditionally persecuted within most major religious traditions, including Christianity — even part of the conversation… and, if not, would someone like me be welcomed to engage such a conversation within the Movement?

Can I be in the club…?

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