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Thursday, January 03, 2013



All words have their uses and their limitations. Emergent and emergence implies a breath of fresh air. Great in many ways. But the one thing that kept bothering when reading my friend Brian Mclaren is that he kept writing like the ideas in his books were something new. Heck, most of this my father was preaching before Brian was born. Actually it goes back centuries, millenia even. It's got to be always fresh if it is going to be alive, but it's not new albeit sometimes it has different packaging because it's a different culture.

So apparently there is now controversy about convergence. Did you know that the Friends (Quakers) who identified with Emergent called themselves Convergent Friends? Why? Because they were moving out of the straight jacket of a particular tradition, and incorporating the jewels from outside the particular tradition. Brian Mclaren has written on identifying with the many traditions in their strong points. I think that has been a strength of the emerging church. It also fits into Richard Foster's Six Streams approach to the different traditions. Now, I see the point about the problem if convergence means everyone has to fit into one neat little box in which they converge. There's not much life in that. So I might talk about static convergence (the fixed point to which everyone must come) vs. dynamic convergence (where everyone is learning from everyone else and checking out different angles on being faithful, so you're converging together but without any intent to box yourselves in).

Of course, it isn't really about words but about the Word becoming flesh, as brother Anthony Smith pointed out in a recent little talk on emergence and convergence. And I think for those of us who seek to follow the Word who became flesh, that means praying together, and listening and learning both directly from the Word and from others seeking to be faithful. The point is humbly to grow into greater faithfulness in dynamic community, not in lockstep.

Michael Toy

yup, the weakness of the word emergence is what it suggests about everything that happened until the brilliant moment of emergence. the world was just waiting for us to get it right and throw off the chains of stupidity and EMERGE!

i'd dodge that by saying that the good emergence is not this one, but the one which has been, and always will be happening. emergence is not my particular ecclesiology or theology. but the space where we expect christianity to be a self renewing, always somewhat surprising expression of goodness.

and i like what anthony said a lot also.

randy buist

thanks Michael


Emergence, convergence, whateverence. If we need a label, I think a better word is love. It cannot be branded, deconstructed, made into a religion, fenced-in by a tribe, reduced to a theology, or captured by politics. Real love is not dependent, dualistic, or polarized. For every convergence, there is a non-convergence. For every emergence, there is a non-emergence. But love is the very fabric of the universe, defined by its omnipresence and non-dependence. I don't know what Christianity is but I'll suggest that love is the best word to describe the Jesus way.

Steve K.


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