I have been reading around different places about the emerging church etc etc but not posting any opinions here. That is because I am undecided on the value of the blogosphere discussion regarding such things. Does the conversation move beyond the high response, hot-button issues toward more depth, honesty, and substance? I think we are waiting to find out.
One thing I have found valuable, and perhaps does move things in a good direction, are the email conversations that can result from all the heat generated. I have had a few good ones. And in an email you can take a few more risks in what you express without it blowing up in hurt and misunderstanding so easily. Because part of clear thinking, I think, is being able to say risky things that you are not even sure you agree with 100% yourself; you need to be able explore avenues of alternative thinking, see where they go, and have the option of turning back if the road turns out to be a bad one. But in a very public forum, that is very rarely a safe thing to do.
Anyway, the one question that my surfing of emerging-type blogs raises in my head, in conjunction with some stuff going on here recently, is the one of the need to name and label ourselves. I am chewing on whether or not it is a positive thing or not, and leaning toward not. It is the old argument of function vs. position. We seem to want to give ourselves a name to define what we are rather than acting out our most important values, and letting that define who we are. If we are too quick to give ourselves a name, don't we risk erecting a facade that in reality has not very much to back it up?
A friend of mine used to say, "beware the prophet who calls himself a prophet". That kind of captures it. Even the early Christians didn't attach the label to themselves; they were given it by the people who were around them watching.
To the point. A quote from a book by J. Denny Weaver, and a story from Hauerwas:
Influenced by Lindbeck, Hauerwas argued that it is not the case that we develop a theology, and then move on to develop the ethical implications of that theology. On the contrary, ethics, or the way one lives, gives expression to the ultimate values, that is, the theology to which one is readily committed. Hauerwas related the oft-repeated legendary story of a resident of Shipshewana, Indiana who was confronted by an evangelist and asked if he was saved. After some thought, the farmer wrote out a list of ten people who knew him. The man suggested that the evangelist ask these people whether he was saved, since he would not presume to answer for himself.
The point is that Christian faith is lived, and that theology emerges as the Christian community's reflections on what it means to live under the reign of God...