My friend and former Associate Pastor Zach Roberts writes about a critical and interesting theological concept, that of Christian Emergence, and more specifically Baptist Emergence. He has written a book entitled Baptimergent: Baptist Stories From the Emergent Frontier. It is important to have people writing and imagining new ways the church can have relevance and meaning in the 21st century.
Zach talks of the church and Western Christainity as an ecosystem, a living system where change evolves, and adaption is normal and expected. He writes of how the story of the Western church of the last century was thought of as complete or finished. He points out, "where the modern church put a period, the emergent movement has erased it and put a comma. The story of the church was not finished during the modern era." Emergents are eager to continue thinking and writing and developing something out of God's church that is their own, something that has relevance and impact on THEIR world.
Zach goes on,"Emergent Baptists are those who believe there is more to God, Jesus, and God's kingdom than modern Christianity and its denominational categories have been able to define. Emergent Baptists believe the story is still unfinished, and it is incumbent upon us to participate in, and write, the narrative for our time and place. We recognize that much of the former narrative, written by those in the last century, does not interface well with those new century and present cultural milieu. Like generations before us, we hope to take what our forefathers and mothers gave us and fashion some format that is our own. "
This is exciting theology for the 21st century. It envisions the church as dynamic, organic, evolving, responding to the human condition in which it finds itself. I pray I get more caught up in this critical approach to faith and theology. We can't keep doing church the way we did it 75 years ago. Among other things, we have to BE the church outside of the bricks and mortar.
We need to be helpful and prayerful for the Emergents and those who would commit to the future of a relevant church. If we do not, the church will be co-opted by those only concerned with power, or worse, it will die. I am thankful for Zach Roberts and those who would search for continued meaning for the Body of Christ, The Church.