January 18, 2007

adding to the noise


With all this talk of denominations, movements and schools of thought I get lost in the noise and wonder where I fit in the picture. Especially now, since I have just switched from one congregation to another. How would I define myself?... ?. My last church was methodist(a very different methodist church)and I guess I agree with most of the doctrine there though I'm pretty sure if I met John Wesley he would rub me the wrong way, he seems uptight(I could totally be assuming that). Me being the unorganized type, his saying "Godliness is next to cleanliness" never did mix well with me. Anyways. There's probably thousands of names, baptist, roman catholic, pentecostal, lutheran, methodist, vineyard, eastern orthodox, and now emergent to name a few. I can relate with all of these names but at the same time I also have certain red flags go up in my head when I observe and listen to certain attitudes and practices within each given denomination.

Out of all the names listed, the biggest issue I have is with the roman catholic church. Still at same time, roman catholicism is the one that I respect the most. I know several genuine, loving roman catholics who are filled and led by the holy spirit. This denomination can be accussed as being one of the most rigid, dead, irrelevant to culture, group of christians in the world. I notice too that the newer groups like vineyard etc. sometimes do not like to be called a denomination but rather a "movement". Whatever. I think every denomination was some kind of fresh movement of the holy spirit that moved the believers of that time to worship and focus on Him in a certain way. That movement would than forever be etched into the churches tainted(for lack of a better word) but still beautiful history. Then another would come, and another, and another, all of them adding pieces of the puzzle that show a fuller picture of Jesus. No doubt that picture is distorted but Jesus can still be seen.

Now that I have gone on to a new church. One that might be considered to have highlights of emergent within it I thought it would be good to start reading certain books from authors who would be considered "emergent". One of them that I just started reading is McClaren's "Generous Orthodoxy" and I can whole heartedly testify that I doubt there is long term value of what he calls doctrinal distinctives, those secondary doctrines beyond the core beliefs that are unique to each denomination. This has always bugged me since I was 15. It seems to me that the emergent movement is very aware of this problem and tries to avoid it and I myself have done that practically my whole life so perhaps I can consider myself emergent, at least partially. I think there may be red flags going off in my head about the emergent church but I need time to discern it.

One of my weaknesses in my christian walk has been in the intellectual department. I never really exercised my spiritual mind as much as I should of and so I still consider myself simple-minded kind of. Not stupid, but just simple, but for the past year I have been growing in this area. Intellectualism is one of the defining factors I see within the emergent movement. I know the bible says that knowledge puffs up so this must be avoided. Still, the heart without the mind is flaky. The mind without the heart is arrogant. Balance is needed. The world is pretty smart and so it's language is "smart". The church must be fluent in "smart" in order to get it's message across(of course in love). Wow, I'm getting stupider as I type, I'm suddenly tired. I'll stop.

1 comment:

Pastor Phil said...

Carl,

Great post, and I'm with you. We are Emergent in that Emergent guys like us, and we like them. And like you we are finding our own way through all of this stuff. It's all part of the search, the journey, the adventure I suppose.