After returning from the pool tonight I had a package sitting at my door. A BOOK! W’hoo, I’m always open to getting books to read. This book is by Spencer Burke, those of you who read The OOZE or are connected with the Emerging church are familiar with his presence.
What is the book titled? A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity. A rather provocative title but one that caught my attention as I casually wonder if I’m a heretic at times. I’m already on page 33 and found a quote that really speaks to me and I just had to stop and post about it.
“Similarly, some people see the growing divide between religion and spirituality as a loss. They bemoan the shift away from religion and decry secularism because they cannot conceive of alternative ways of encountering God. But with the loss of religion comes the opportunity for other ways of practicing faith to emerge.”
So often we think that these news ways will be rather similar to what we practiced before. While some may not diverge very far from the standard template of the Christian religion, other go far a field. Some will indeed become heretical sects while others may not look like the norm at all yet grasp the spirit of the religion.
While the central “truths” that make up the classic teaching of the faith may remain static, the mode of expression will vary greatly. WHY? Because those who seek to encounter God will naturally look to ways that fit a person of their time period and cultural setting. What does that look like in 21century America? What "new things" are happening?
The popular focus is shifting to the “Emerging/emergent” form of expression. Yet this is just one cluster of experience that is widely know about. There are others that are more hidden from the popular mind and therefore less familiar than the “stereotypical Emergent Church.”
I’m painting in broad strokes here. Yet the existence of the(se) stereotype(s) demonstrate the veracity of these strokes.
The popular success of these Emergent churches results from the maintenance of their contact points with the public mind. They do not diverge too widely from the familiar forms of church as they have buildings, set service times, songs and and so forth. While their heart and soul may beat to a different drumb, they look very much like the rest of the band.
Today we are probably more open to the clusters of alternate communities that may not look like the common understanding of a church. These communities have been making radical departures from that comfortable form of church the rest of us know about. Being widely out of the public mind, these communites exhibit the central nature of Christ through their actions without all the fanfare and praise of men.
There is plenty of room to consider divergent flavors of what emergence / emerging is. It is a mistake to think that the stereotypicly Emergent communities are the only things that are emerging in the 21st century. While it is true that these communities form a necessary and comfortable touch-point with what is commonly thought of as church, they may be just the tip of an iceberg.
What does emerging faith in the 21st century look like?
I think that people practicing an emerging faith may not even be part of the “Emergent Conversation” or consider themselves emergent. They may form communities that are practicing a radical praxis in their quest to encounter God yet would not even be recognized as churches in the classical sense.
Some people living an emerging faith may indeed be heretics in the classic sense. Others my look like heretics but actually recover the heart of what it means to practice the Christian faith in our day. Which camp do we fall in? Which do I fall in? Only time, faith, and practice can give us a clue. Ultimately God will be the judge.
I so enjoy books that stir my thought processes. I'm going to continue reading now and process what I'm thinking later on.