Thursday, January 18, 2007
Tony Jones, Emergent, Republicans, and Pentecostals
So, last night I gathered with the Boston Emergent Cohort. Cohort is a cool word, but it has a sense of irony. Are we a unit of the Roman Legion? That doesn't quite feel Emergent to me. Perhaps we are fish spawning up stream. That might be a better analogy, but not exactly a picture I want to perpetuate. Maybe we are a study group of people going through the same experiences. Hmmmmmm...that's just too laboratory sounding. Anyway the Cohort gathered because Tony Jones was in town.
It was a discussion around a table with beer, and soda. There were 13 of us I believe. Cooooool - we could have used the other C word - Coven. We even discussed using that word for the Boston group, and nobody counted to see we had the perfect coven number at the group last night. But Cohort it is.
So we discussed a number of things like liberation theology (and Carlos was there, who is finishing up his doctoral thesis on Latin America, and he's darn smart about liberation theology, because of it, but he stayed pretty quiet on that point), and we talked about how Emergent started, which I didn't know, but it made sense that it was just a group of people who got together and had the similar thoughts about how evangelical Christianity seemed kinda messed up.
A few of us asked questions, so at some point I asked mine.
The first was how Emergent and Pentecostals fit together. I know a number of Emergent leaning Pente's, and they often have a difficult time in their denominations. We, like most of the Emergent gang make fun of TV evangelism, and guys like Benny Hinn, but often with less aggression. I have wondered why we can rip on Benny as Emergents, but not on John MacArthur and his criticisms of everybody under the sun, but himself. They seem to be the same in terms of bringing unhealthy elements of Christian behavior to the church. Personally I'd rather not rip on anyone though, but if we will be fair, we should rip on 'em all.
So back to the point of the question - is there a place for Emergent and Pentecostals to meet, and fellowship? Tony's answer: "I'd be open for being part of a dialogue concerning that issue." (rough translation of actual words.)
He compared it to the dialogue with Emergent and the Traditional churches. Fair comparison, but not nearly as challenging methinks. Tony mentioned his approach to the Traditional churches was to challenge them on their authoritarian governmental structures, and the need to move toward an egalitarian balance in the church. With Pentecostalism this same challenge would be presented, and compounded by the potentially more challenging difficulty of worshiping together with the far more demonstrative style of Pentecostals, whereas the Emergent church has adapted many ancient faith elements already found in some form in Traditional settings.
My second question was similar: Is the Emergent Tent large enough to include Republicans. Tony's answer was more affirmative in this question. (I don't mean to say that the question about Pentecostals was not positive, just that it did not appear to be somehting which has as much thought, and experience behind it as this political issue.) He apparently is one of the more moderate leaning guys in Emergent, as an Independent. Everyone else who helped kick this thing off apparently was registered Democrat. Tony saw a place for Conservatives in Emergent - so James and I rubbed our little gray goatees together in a symbol of solidarity between leftist commies, and republican nazis, and that sealed the felowship of the evening. Well, except for the fact the guys went out and smoked some Nat Sherman's afterward.
Now I've got a new question. Can you be Emergent if you don't smoke?