am I emerging?

June 10, 2008

Difficult question. Am I emerging? Or is emerging simply a nice word to throw around, a cool group with whom I like to identify because that would make me a cool Christian? When writing the black bloggers needed in this white conversation post the thought came to me why I’m using the emerging label, but decided not to go on a detour. But since Steve brought this up, maybe I should try and ask myself the question.

Maybe a lot of what I’ve been writing over the years has been to answer this question. For example when, in 2006, talked about Emerging Church South Africa, and started out by saying:

Two questions that are vital to the emerging church movement, I believe, is the questions “What are we emerging from?” and “Where are we emerging too?”. While reading around the Internet, you will quickly find that generally for a whole lot of people the emerging church is emerging from evangelicalism. But is this what we are emerging from in South Africa?

Also my double-century post a while ago when I talked about my blog move, lately when I started, again, talking about an emerging South African theology. OK, I could go on and on posting links. But still I try to understand myself. Steve talk about the emerging conversation being largely post-evangelical, which I also said in my post in 2006, but he goes somewhat further saying that it largely a post-neopentacostal conversation.

But I won’t consider myself post-neopentacostal, but still I like to link up with many of the emerging people. But then there are also some who I get the feeling they don’t speak to my own context, for example Dan Kimball that still worry about whether woman should be leaders in churches (see They Like Jesus but not the Church). Whether Kimball is post-neopentacostal I don’t know, but point is that with some in the conversation I simply feel that we are coming from totally different backgrounds, and talk about totally different issues.

Me? Well, I come from a reformed background, was influenced by evangelicals I think, grew up in South Africa, was in high school between 1998 and 2002, so all the evangelism groups that ran around the country (C-Kruis, Pneumatix etc) so I guess I go a little bit from the charismatics and even fundamentalists as well. I studied theology from 2003 onwards at the University of Pretoria, I was heavily influenced by historical criticism in it’s different forms, narrative theory, in systematic theology people like Moltmann.

It was Tony Jones who got me into the emerging conversation, maybe there is a reason why this happened, because Jones I think came from a background quite similar to ours. After one of his talks a friend said: “he just summed up 4 years of theological studies”. After reading Mclaren’s A New Kind of Christian, myself, and others in my class, said to each other that “this was what we had to figure out in order to survive our first three years of theological studies”. Both Jones and Mclaren wasn’t the ones that provided us with these amazing insights, rather, they said the things that we have been saying.

So, in the emerging conversation I found a place where I could say many of the things which I’ve been thinking, although I’ve also found people saying things that totally irrelevant to my context. I think I use the emerging label because of a personal journey with others which I enjoy, more than because of theological convictions which I agree with. Also, much of what I hear I like, I’m comfortable in this conversation.

So, am I emerging? Well yes, I’m emerging. But I’m emerging in the verbal sense. I’m emerging in the contextually in South Africa, influenced deeply by the historical critique, looking back upon other things than evangelicalism and neopentacostalism. Sometimes what I read resonate with my heart, sometimes is don’t. But I like to hear how others, in other church traditions, emerge in their contexts. And I blog, and I write how I see things from my context.

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