Those following the blog would have read about the current conversation surrounding the term emerging. Scot McKnight blogged about it today, and confirmed that they will be starting a new network commited to the Lausanne Covenant, according to him this will still be part of the broader emerging conversation, but as missional-evangelistic evangelicals. Tony Jones also blogged about this today, saying that the Emerging Church Movement is part of what is called New Social Movements, and that even if terminology dies, the movement will continue.

OK, here is a list of links from this year so far which I think is important in this conversation. I believe I missed a lot, so please comment if there is others which you believe should be added. I’ve linked almost all of these before, I’m just putting them together now.

February 25 Micheal Patton wrote a very long blog post in which is draw a diagram where different people were put in a line between conservative and liberal, where certain voices were Orthodox, and others not. D.A Carson was considered smack in the middle of Orthodoxy. This post cause a lot of reaction, from Dan Kimball, Scot McKnight, and hundreds of comments on it and the follow-up posts Patton wrote.

In June David Dunbar wrote this article in which he discussed the relation between Emerging, Emergent and Missional. In response Scot McKnight started discussing this on June 9, and Andrew Jones on June 10.

Then, a number of posts from this month:

September 1: Andrew Jones ask readers what to do with emerging, most says Dump it, and he seems to be dumping it, and opts for missional.

September 12: Dan Kimball makes a similar decision.

September 19: out of Ur reports on the end of the Emerging Church.

September 21: Steve Knight reacts on all this on the Emergent Village blogcast.

I wrote on this on June 10 and September 18.

Well, there you have it. This I must give everyone. I love the spirit in which this conversation is being had. Honest, but friendly. Differing, but keeping the conversation open. Let’s keep it up.

What links need to be added to this list?

So all over the arguments seem to be raging along: What should we do with the term “emerging”? Andrew Jones asked whether to Dump it or Use it a bit longer, and voters said Dump it. Dan Kimball is holding onto an interpretation from 5-7 years ago when he wrote The Emerging Church, and dislikes what has happened to it over the past few years. These two writers seem to opt for the use of the word “missional” rather. Similarly South African theologian, Nelus Niemandt, seems to be merging the words emerging and missional in two recent articles in Verbum et Ecclesia where he explains emerging churches. And more links will be found by the curious surfer.

But switching between emerging and missional might not be that easy. Leading missional thinking Graig can Gelder clearly destinguises between missional and emerging, and sorry Dan (if ever you should read this), but he is using your book as reference for what emerging is, and he doesn’t think that it’s the same as missional. Not that I deny any of you the right to switch terms, but remember that others are also using it.

My honest opinion is that the Emergent Village guys are largely responsible for this. They took the movement to what, in my opinion, was the logical conclusion, but this really upsets people. When the big debates about emerging/emergent started again a while ago, I started getting doubts about how long this can keep together. And you know the sad thing: It’s the same story over again! We might as well admit it, it’s about conservatives and liberals, about those orthodox and those who are heretics. You remember all those wars between evangelicals and ecumenicals (I’m reading the earlier work of Bosch currently, in which this is still running wild), well now some are saying that emerging is about evangelism, and others that they won’t use the word! I said it a few times over the last few weeks; I wondered how long emerging was going to be able to keep everyone part of the conversation… I so hoped that it will be for a long time.

When myself and Jacques was talking a while ago, we reflected on how many of us have moved through Emergent Africa, connected, but left Emergent Africa (which later – was it because of my recommendation Roger? – became Emerging Africa). Yeah, it’s like some kind of post-emergentafrica thing:-) But, when we started to get a few bloggers who “get it” (using Tony Jones’ term from The New Christians) a few weeks ago, emerging was the word which connected us. Everyone kind of knew what was meant when we said that emerging folks are getting together, although everyone also know how wide this is. Reading Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators I realised that we have people from everyone of the 4 streams among the 5-10 people who will be getting together in a few days time, but still emerging seems to be the word that bind us together.

If emerging continue, what will it be? According to Kimball it started out with being about evangelism, and the theological conversations was only there to serve this cause. When South Africa got onto the train, Roger called Emergent Africa “a safe place to talk about theology“. For us, the theological conversation was never something secondary. It never was about evangelism, important as that might be, and when it was, it was about rethinking evangelism. If emerging continue, this would be the place where we talk about the principals behind designing ships, not the place to fine-tune engines, or to rearrange the deck-chairs (you can work with the metaphors yourself). Does this make it a white-male-philosophical conversation? I guess I can only say that I truly hope not!

So, what’s next? Well, I guess a couple more heresy complaints (church history has had enough of those, and maybe one day we will learn that heretics sometimes have a way of standing the test of time, but I guess we can’t tell beforehand which will do that). I guess some will just quitely decide to continue the conversation, not because it’s popular (cause those with the heretic label around them usually ain’t popular, except when it come as prosperity gospel), not because the emerging people have cool hair, but because we help but rethink our theology, we cannot help but ask questions about theology.

I’m gonna finish now, and I feel a bit sad. For two years now emerging has given me a place to find others with whom I can identify, it would surely be a sad day when that ends, but I guess terminology is expendable. But tomorrow I’ll probably tag another post with emerging.

Seems like we are at it again. What’s the relation between emerging and emergent? Scot McKnight and Andrew Jones talks about it, and David Dunbar wrote the article which started it again. A while ago Dan Kimball pointed to the article by Micheal Patton in which he also tried to address this question using some cute diagrams. He in the end wrote something like six posts on this, and it had hundreds of comments on different blogs, also a lot on McKnights blog. Might do us good to remember that conversation.

Let me start out by putting this into it’s most simple form. Now, I could be wrong, but I think what’s happening is something in this line: emerging is accepted as being closer to evangelicalism than emergent. Emergents madden evangelicals more than the emerging people. Somewhere along the line the liberals are taken into the equation, because the emergents, and some emerging ones as well, describe their own attempt as finding the middle ground between the conservatives and the liberals (different labels are used for the two sides of the supposed debate, see an earlier post here). OK, and to do it justice, there is also strong voices fighting against the division, saying that the whole conversation should be held under one banner.

OK, I know this is an absolute oversimplification of the argument. But some things need be said, and I hope this summary illustrate this. The conversation is still argued mainly from the relation to evangelicalism; the relation to a certain conservative ideal of the past, or to fundamentalism. Which is closer and which is further away. The debate between emerging and emergent thus seem to me to be quite similar to the debates that have been raging all over the centuries of the church between different theological positions. Furthermore, we need to notice that the conversation is still ongoing, and many voices influence both “sides” of the conversation.

In South Africa something of this can be seen on the Emerging Africa site, which was first called Emergent Africa, but the name has changes somewhere along the line. Our own church has gotten different people to speak, from Jones to Hirsch. Everything running under any of these labels seem to be called emerging (Afrikaans: ontluikend), and accepted basically uncritically as similar. The deep running differances between them is never discussed. Could this be partly why the emerging conversation seems to be such a unifying factor? Linking people from Moreletta Park, by many considered to be the headqaurters of the evangelical tradition in the Dutch Reformed Church, and the UP theological faculty, by others considered the headquarters of the “liberal thought” in the Dutch Reformed Church, and even supporters of the NHN.

The work of someone like Nelus Niemandt seem to also point in this direction. Although you won’t easily find him using the work of people like Borg or Crossan, and being critical about people like Spangenberg, he would use the work of someone like Mclaren (who use both Borg and Crossan) in an almost uncritical fashion. Is this simply because Mclaren is considered part of the emerging conversation, which Niemandt like?

All this said, I think the emerging conversation could provide protestant Christianity with an amazing gift if it’s able to keep the conversation going without ignoring the differences. If a model for being together without necessarily agreeing can be provided within protestant circles, this might be the ultimate proof of churches who can navigate the postmodern world.