A long time ago LT wrote a piece called “Too conservative for the liberals, too liberal for the conservatives.” I can relate.
I am liberal in my setting but I am too conservative for many of my emerging friends. (A recent survey called me part fundamentalist after all!)
I see the best in the emerging discussion and I love it, but I’m not willing to buy in completely. What I love is the authenticity and the missional focus, and the willingness to re-examine and rediscover theology. But there are things that I don’t like.
One of them is that it seems easy to develop a new kind of orthodoxy, a new party line. This has come out recently in the past few days in some discussions.
The emerging church shows a lot of grace for people to be asking difficult questions. But there are still some out-of-bound areas where there is a party line to be followed, and if you don’t, you really don’t belong.
I hope that we will work hard in allowing different forms of churches in the discussion, not just cutting edge churches. One size does not fit all. Even a traditional church can learn to be missional. We are not all called to the same type of church.
I hope we will allow different theological positions, even on difficult issues such as women in ministry. I am speaking as someone who is not conservative in this area, but who is in a conservative denomination. Some people are sexist but some people just need a little more time, or sincerely hold to a position that they believe is Biblical.
I hope we will allow people to engage thoughtfully with the thought leaders of the emerging church, and allow that to be okay. I want to say I disagree with McLaren or whoever on this or that issue and not be kicked out. Where you can belong even if you didn’t like Blue Like Jazz. (For the record, I liked it. But I wonder if anyone has told Miller that he really isn’t emerging because he goes to a church that believes in male pastors only?)
I hope that we will be all about the grace that we say we’re about, even when people don’t follow the emerging party line perfectly.
Otherwise the grace that we speak about is no grace at all.