Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The whose who in the zoo and just what kind of animal are you? Phyllis Tickle 'Emergence Christianity'

So what kind of church do you go to? Are you a Christian...a Bible believing Christian (as opposed to a ...)? We love wearing labels in a sense of self assurance and identity (I'm in...even if in means the rebellious out) and we love placing these labels on others as a sense of security (deciding whose in and whose not). Phyllis Tickle in her book Emergence Christianity published in 2012 now reveals that there is a fork in the emergence tree. Before those who sought to break away from stale institutional forms of church in their theology and ecclesiology motivated by a sense of mission and incarnational gospel would label themselves 'progressive' or 'emergence/emerging/emergent' or 'fresh expressions/pioneer'(the latter now being associated more with institutional churches like Methodist and Anglican). This general tree has now developed a spilt.
Lecturing in 2011 on hermeneutics and 'postmodern' responses to this in church forms, students studied the emerging church associated with Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and others. As I researched material for the students to use in their critique I came across a scathing clip by Mark Discoll on the matter: CLICK HERE I was surprised at the names associated with each and suprised that Mark would be so disapproving of Brian and Rob. I was also fascinated at how he defined 4 streams within this emergence philosophy. Another exposition of the movement was by an insidious summary by Piper concerning Brian and others posted in 2010: CLICK HERE.
What a zoo and what wild animals!!!
Both Discoll and Piper refer to MacKnight (author of the Jesus Creed...a good book) as a former supporter of Brian who now no longer supports Brian and both make some really outrageous claims about people and the movement as a whole. Tickle helpfully sheds light on these matters in her book. Indeed after MacLarens 'A New Kind of Christianity', MacKnight produced an article 'Here I stand' as a critique of Brian and which now serves as the point and manifesto of the split in the branch (p.156). This resulted in Emergent church/Christianity associated with names such as MacLaren, Bell etc. and Emergence Christianity/Church associated with names like MacKnight and Driscoll (p.142-143). Tickle insinuates that this split in Protestant Evangelicalism considering the neat divide already mentioned has also given rise to a New Calvanism in the likes of Piper and Discoll (p.190).
"Whenever one speaks of anything,one speaks from a particular point of view. When one speaks of religion, one speaks from more than a point of view; one speaks from a lifetime investment in a canon or particular explication of truth" Tickle, p.208