"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

- The Apostle's Creed
Why I'll Probably Never Be Emerging Emergent Emerge-ish

I remember the beginnings of the "seeker sensitive" movement. One of the primary issues raised in that movement was the way we talk. "Church lingo" was out, relating to people in their own language was in. For example, if the word "propitiation" ever escaped your lips, you could expect to be whacked over the head with someone's copy of The Message Remixed.

In general, I agree that we should speak to people in their own language. Which is one reason why I am a bit concerned for the Emergent/ing movement.

Note: this is not a post criticizing the Emergent/ing theology, church practices, methods, or any of their leaders.

But have you heard these guys talk?

For starters: if you still, frequently, have to explain to people the difference between emergENT and emergeING, perhaps you need to pick a new moniker. I still don't know what the difference is. And I've never quite figured out what they are "emerging" from. And do you ever quit emerging? Lots of things emerge, but they eventually stop emerging, right (once fully emerged, I mean)? Will the movement change its name to "Emerged" when it's done? And is this the first movement to have a participle for a name?

One key value of emergent/ing is "context". You have to fit what you do and say into the context of the surrounding culture. I agree with this, for the most part. That's why I'm a bit baffled by the college-professorish nature of emerge-talk.

Below are just a few examples of emergent/ing lingo, representing words and phrases most-likely unintelligable to non-Christians not-yet-Christians pre-followers of the Way:

sacramental ecology

contextualize (this also hits on one of my pet-peeves: turning a noun into a really long verb)

contextualization (double the previous pet-peeve)


missional apologetics


generative friendship

faith journey

faith community

And my all time favorite: "praxis" (which is a word that only people who have studied theology understand).

While I understand that all movements that have a lot of thought behind them generate new words and new modes of speaking, I wonder if it would be possible for the emergent/ing conversation to contextualize it's lingo a little more, in praxis.

Again, this is not an "anti" emergent/ing post. My intention is not to demean all the well-intentioned and earnest people in those movements.

It's just to say: "When I hear you talk, I feel dumb".


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Comments on "Why I'll Probably Never Be Emerging Emergent Emerge-ish":
1. Quaid - 11/22/2006 1:58 am CST

This makes a lot of sense to me, De.

One church I really see doing this a lot is Mars Hill in Seattle, specifically their pastor- Mark Driscoll.

I think I agree with a great deal of his/their theology. I find, however, that they will use language that is seemingly intentionally complex. (I'll see if I can find an example. Maybe I'm wrong.) My hunch, in this matter, is that they are wanting to distance themselves from those emerging churches who are very off their rocker, theologically. The best way to do this is to bust out their theological chops and prove to everyone that there is thought behind what they are doing.

In defense of Mars Hill, specifically, their culture is very intellectually advanced. Seattle is one of the "smartest" cities in the country based on number of people with degrees and such. One might argue that, in their case, using words like "praxis" is the language they need to use to speak through their culture.

2. Michael - 11/22/2006 8:37 am CST

And I’ve never quite figured out what they are “emerging” from.

He he. Think "Emerging" like the picture on a half-done jigsaw puzzle. "The Church which is Being Revealed" might be a better monika (that's all of us, by the way), but there you go. I wouldn't even say that it was a movement, more a shared understanding of the nature of the Body of Christ.

I thought Praxis was the car that was going to save the planet?

3. blestwithsons - 11/22/2006 8:55 am CST

How 'bout emergetic! There's a word! Of course it reminds one somewhat of emetic but that might not be so bad depending on your point of view...

4. patrick - 11/22/2006 11:46 am CST

Doesn't the use of all these new words disturb you a bit in the least? I don't buy the whole "Seattle is a really educated place so they talk like that." Very few people know what praxis means. Praxis is one of those words that I hear theologians use who dislike using rational arguments to to invite people to come to Christ, or people who who dismiss the importance of theology.

5. Brad - 11/22/2006 6:13 pm CST

Isn't the vernacular of Jesus as he speaks to Nicodemus just as radical? You must be born again. You must emerge. You must take a leap of intent.

Metacognitive Emission...

All that wordiness just to say - Jesus loves you, and you should love Him too.


6. Quaid - 11/23/2006 1:22 am CST

I don’t buy the whole “Seattle is a really educated place so they talk like that.” Very few people know what praxis means.

While they may not know what praxis means, they like to look, feel and sound intelligent. While this is a stereotype and not true of the entire Pac-Northwest citizenry, I could see them being attracted to something that sounds intelligent. Dropping big words into your vernacular can achieve that, if not overdone.

I don't think that the emergies overdo it, so to speak. If you have a beef with the big words, it is an absolute. You think they shouldn't use them at all. I feel that there are some places, such as suburbia NW Houston where it simply wouldn't be too effective. I could see, though, where they might have their time and place. Seattle and its surroundings are an example. I could also see it working in an advanced collegiate environment.

7. Leslie28 - 11/24/2006 2:32 pm CST

Megacognitive Emission. . .HAHAHAHAHA!

Personally, I would argue that all of this jargon could effectively be rendered insignificant if the academic population would merely apply a degree of excellence in hermeneutics directly to the scriptures themselves--in the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, of course.

After this initial generation of intentional deciphering and contemplation, we can rely on the spiritual gift of interpretation via the Holy Spirit to properly inform the rest of the populace of any pertinent information.

Oh wait. . .that's been done.

8. Jamie Arpin-Ricci - 03/07/2007 8:48 pm CST

Just a very late side note: the idea of sacramental ecology is older than Evangelicalism. It is an aspect of Orthodoxy. Just FYI.

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