EMERGING ~ ANAPHAINOMENOS
[def. charismissional – the grace (charis) enabling power of the Spirit, to carry out the mission of God (missio Dei)]
Anaphainomenos, “budding,” “ascending,” words that define the emerging church in a culture where the only constant is change, where old paradigms are eroding and disappearing, where there is need for the Kingdom of God and the Church to burst through with a renewed vision and mission, of being salt and light and hope to a generation far removed from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their Messiah, Jesus Christ. There are many within Evangelicalism that ridicule, loathe and exude contempt when it comes to dialog and conversing with those Christians who are wanting the Kingdom of God to make an impact in our world, and who are realizing how far off the mark, historic Evangelicalism has been, to a large degree so heavenly minded that it has little impact on those living on earth! The good news of the Gospel implies the prophetic exhortations of the Old Testament, embodied in many passages such as Micah 6:8, “…to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God.”
The response of Evangelicalism in the last century was to a radicalized Liberal church, that had the imbalance of a social gospel that minimized personal salvation. The response was an over reaction in the opposite direction. The very heart of those who champion the values of the emerging church, is to be empowered by the Spirit for the Missio Dei, that seeks a more integrated and complete salvation, that is more than the salvation of souls, and includes the social aspects of the Gospel of the Kingdom, including environmentalism, and other social activism, that seeks to honour the Creator and the Liberator, Jesus Christ in fullness and wholeness as we deal with our fellow man and society and creation.
Those in the emerging church are recovering those movements and teachings of the past that best embodied the “full Gospel” (not as Pentecostals or Charismatics would understand it), as being the total good news for mankind, the good news of salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, upon the revealed record of Scripture alone, which records the narrative of the One Christ Jesus who dwelt among men, and became the One Mediator between God and man. This includes personal redemption, that redeems a person’s soul, their physical life, their health, well being, the need for shelter, food, clothing, a decent wage, economic and social justice, as well as caring as good stewards of a sustainable environment, and advancing the Kingdom of God, not by force of arms in a cultural war, but as peace makers, following in the life and model of the Peace Maker Himself, Jesus Christ, by embracing a lifestyle of peace, non-violence and non-resistance.
As Christians we are to live in the world, that is, walk, live and work amongst the people that God has inhabited the earth with, to be a model and a witness as to what it means to be in redemptive community, where love, grace, peace and truth are expressed in how we engage and relate with one another, in how we resolve conflict, as well as how we cooperate in achieving and bringing about social and economic change in society. We are measured by how we live out our lives, and in how the least among us in our society are treated. Being salt and light also included giving a cup of water, and giving bread and providing shelter, and being an advocate for those who have no one to stand in the gap for them. This is what is at the heart beat of the move in the emerging church, to be relevant to the culture in a radical life transforming way, as well as to reflect the “way of Christ.”
I have many friends, especially in both the Reformed tradition and the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition, and many within both of these literally cringe when they hear the word “emerging” or “emergent.” Part of the problem is that when engaging in dialog (emerging types, would use the term “conversation”) with these people, is that their philosophical and theological orientation is modernist and engaging from within this “world view.” Whether my friends want to admit it or not, the world has changed, and will continue to change, and the categories that once seemed marked in stone, no longer apply. If we are going to even have dialog with one another, we will need much grace, much insight by the Holy Spirit, and much love, for those others who see things much differently than ourselves. We cannot become so entrenched and opinionated that we end up blaspheming Christ and what it means to be a follower of Christ.
I want to engage in dialog, and a dialog whereby neither side is trying to convince the other side is wrong, for that is not dialog but agenda driven coercion. Meaningful dialog takes time, energy and effort, so that mutual trust and respect will rule and guide the discussion and conversation. The only one who should do any convincing is the Holy Spirit. We should humbly seek the best of one another and operate in grace and in honouring and preferring one another.
That said, the following definitions are simply that, definitions, and they are mine as I know and understand them to be. I will not postulate or attempt to defend of justify these views, beliefs and values. I will simply declare them to be what they are. I do not intend on engaging in deep theological discussions with people that I have not invested my life in friendship with, and I am not interested in the least in debating a hot headed individual who feels he or she must defend the honor of Christ and the Bible by attacking me personally, or my views. Consider this a disclaimer, and simply that I desire to live at peace with all men, and honor Christ as I engage with Him, and submit to His revealed will to me.
May God bless you, and may you gain a little more understanding of what the “emerging conversation” is all about.
Soli Deo Gloria