I want to share another thought on this topic since there was so much conversation on the last post, and a number of you told me that exchange was helpful. I was talking with some friends this morning about the "emerging church" (ec) and explained that neatly categorizing the conversation is more difficult than some critics are willing to admit. The discussion around movement vs conversation is less relevant to me than how we characterize the whole. Some want to claim the whole is a threat to the Gospel, while others believe it is the answer to prayer. I see it a bit more simply that includes both perspectives. When forced to define it, I say the ec is a conversation about how to be and do church in the postmodern context with the agreement that many of the "modern" forms/formulas the church has used in the past will be less successful today and in the future. Does this make the ec good or bad? The whole is a mixture of both somewhat like the Reformation or Evangelicalism.
How would someone have characterized the Reformation in the 16th century? Which leader should speak for the whole? Zwingli? Luther? Calvin? Which group represents the whole? Anabaptists? Calvinists? Lutherans? You can see the problem. Some involved in the Reformation were a threat to the Gospel, while others involved were rescuing lost parts of it. What was the whole? A movement away from Rome, and a return to grace in salvation. We can think of Evangelicalism as well. Movement or conversation? I don't care. But how narrowly can/should we define it? Some within are eroding the faith, while others involved are holding fast to the truth.
Much like the Reformation, Evangelicalism and our own Convention the ec is includes those who are a threat to the Gospel and those who are rescuing parts forgotten. There is danger is embracing and ignoring the whole.