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I’ve been following emerging dialogue for a relatively short time (I hope to delve into and blog it more deeply this summer, once the kids are out of school and my activity level plummets—it’s a paradox: we moms pray for school to end in the spring but then we’re praying for it begin by the time we’re half-way through summer, go figure), and here’s one sample of dialogue between Andrew Jones (TallSkinnyKiwi) and some folks who commented at Slice of Laodicea (a blog of “news and commentary on the contemporary church”).

Ouch. I see now what emerging folk mean when they grieve some encounters with those who hold to more traditional (which is much different than orthodox, if Scot McKnight is any example) theology. From my limited experience (I'm not even an arm-chair theologian--I'm sitting on the floor beside the chair), it seems a lot of the stereotypes, misrepresentations and misunderstandings about the emerging movement crop up in this discussion. If there’s one thing I’ve picked up on over the last few months, it’s that the emerging movement is a discussion, not a theology or denomination or religion or system of any sort. You can’t lump ‘em all in one category. I imagine it (I’m big on images) like a giant living room or coffee house where a bunch of people from various backgrounds and experiences and cultures who follow Jesus are genuinely and earnestly trying to figure out exactly what that looks like today. That might be a somewhat limiting image, but it works for me right now. After reading the dialogue at Slice of Laodicea, however, I couldn’t help but think that McNight’s Seven Habits of Successful Emerging Discussions might have helped things there.

I’m not saying I haven’t witnessed the same thing committed by some in the emerging camp towards those of more traditional camps (and even among themselves), but when it comes to Jones, I’ve seen a demonstrated patience and eagerness to continue dialogue, which is, I guess, why I keep returning to his site (and perhaps why, among other things, the emerging discussion continues to hold a great deal of attraction to me). So, I’m leaning on the back wall of that large coffee house and I’m listening. I’m not agreeing with everything I’m hearing, but I’m glad the discussion is happening.

And, while I guess I could sit there and point fingers, I sadly admit I’m not immune when it comes eye-rolling and out-right dismissal when I encounter those with whom I disagree. Thank God for grace, transformation and my accountability partner (Lauren, you’ll hear some of this repeated next week, ack).

(Image: Cafe Central in Wien, Innenansicht, Wikipedia Commons)