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?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting meeting.

The interesting thing is that if there is a question of whether Pentecostals can be a part of Emergent, then it seems to suggest Emergent is its own denomination in a sense, or it is already very defined in the mind of its leadership.

Am I missing something?

Marieke said...

What exactly is your definition of Pentecostal? I hear Charismatic and Pentecostal thrown about (I'm not talking specifically about your blog), often interchangeably, and I'm curious how you would define it in this context.

Anyway, the church I go to is part of a Pentecostal denomination, as you know, and we also part of the Emergent/Missional movements. So obviously, I see the two can co-exist.

I'm also pretty moderate, having grown up in a conservative family (I'm also Independent, having previously been registered Rep), yet I relate to the Emergent church movement on a personal level.

Lastly, I don't smoke and never plan on taking up the habit for various reasons, but I'm certainly not offended by those who do, as long as they don't blow smoke in my face (I have allergies) :)

So, all that to say: Yes, yes, and yes. So there.

Anonymous said...

I have emerged without smoking in in the process; is there a Smokeless Emergent group?

I can't help but think that our problem is in needing to place ways of thinking in categories.

I think it is about being and not thinking as an end in itself.
I want to just do what I can to be at peace with all. Live out my communion with the Spirit in everyday life, interacting GRACE-fully with whomever God has placed in my path.

Idealism? or is that just another box?

Agent B said...

I don't know about emergent or smurgent but,

Nat Sherman's Black-n-Gold's are my all time favorite. Thanks for the photo!

I smoke very occasionlly (only when I'm at a local cigar bar where I gig some). Does that make me a half-assed emergent?

Webb Kline said...

I hate for it to have to come to this but, when politics, denominational differences and smoking preferences all come into question as to whether or not one can be part of the emerging church, the party is over.

Sounds more like submergent to me, because that kind of mentality will quickly sink the movement into the quagmire with all the other dead forms of the faith.

I've vowed never to smoke again, but it's all enough to make me contemplate ordering 3 Guinness.

Pastor Phil said...

Jeepers, jeepers,

Hasn't everybody figgered out by now that half my blog is tomfooolery. ;-)

The smoking thingy is just a joke. I know that you do have to smoke to be Emergent. Emergent stands for "coming out of a smoke filled room." No, no just kidding again.

As far as Republican - that was a serious question, because most Emergies are Democrat, and sometimes the discussions can get heavily lefty loosey, making fun of righty tighties. ;-)

The Pentecostal thing is significant, because it yet has to be seen how comfortable all are together when we all let loose and really do our stuff. I get a glimpse of it in Salem, because during our outreach we get all Pentecostal with Dream Interpretation, and Prophetic evangelism, and we mix it up with the Emergent gang who are non-pentecostal. It is taking time for these divergent groups we all are to be fully confortable with one another, and I consider it to be an amazing experiment in church life. I suppose I'm really pentemergent, or better yet I think emergematic.

I am convinced that pentecostals and emergents can all get along. The real question is whether the Pentecostal denomination heads, and emergent can get along. I am convinced Emergent can make that connection with a bit of cultural learning. I am not so sure that Pentecostal denominations can comfortably connect back.

There will continue to be Emergent churches in Pentecostal denominations. I am not sure there will be a full embracing of Emergent from those denominational headquarters.

P.S. I did buy some cigars in Miami, and sit down for a smlke with James and Jeff during the summer. I am now fully Emerged I suppose. ;-)

Pastor Phil said...


I am not speaking theoretically, but practically about how comfortable we are together. Pentecostals are Emergent. But as I said in the post above, the question is how deep the embrace can go - can denominations embrace Emergent? It will take work on both sides to make that happen.

Pastor Phil said...


Pentecostals began as a movement at the turn of the 19th to 20th century, They typically were birthed out of the holiness movement. Foursquare (your denom) was a late comer on the scene, and the Founder Aimee was froom a Baptist backgrouns. Fooursquare was not fully accepted by the Pentecostal groups fpr a number of years, because it was led by a woman, and it did not hold the same strict rules.

Charismatics came out iof the 60's as Mainline Churches expienced the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in a Pentecostal manner. Thye were not holiness movment based at all, so the distinctionsw were once fairly strong. Since that time the two have merged in some cases seamlessly, and are indistinguishble - except in Oneness churches.

I've gotta run - more to say later. maybe a whole new post.

Pastor Phil said...

Agent B

No full-assed bro. You're smokin!

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Webbb,

I think Emergent is cool, and will emerge fully, but we gotta think through the Q's now bro.

Pastor Phil said...

Okay I am back, and now I will have time to correct my gross typing errors before I have to hit "publish your comment."

My post on this subject was quite hopeful on these issues. I believe that there is place to call home for a displaced individual like myself, but I am not so hopeful as to think that there is not serious work involved in merging divergent communities of faith. It is not sufficient to talk about our points of agreement, but rather we must talk about our points of disagreement and come to understand one another's perspectives. can always count on me to bring up the hard topics. ;-)

Shannon said...


Interesting thoughts. You said it best yourself when you said, "I am not so sure that Pentecostal denominations can comfortably connect back." I've been in the Assemblies of God most of my life and Pentecostal since I can remember. While I'm not opposed to "Emergent" in any way. In fact, I'm becoming more emergent myself as time goes on. In all honesty though I don't see Denominational Leadership, particularly in the A/G coming to a place of real connectivity with Emergent. I do however believe some of the church affiliated with these Pentecostal Denominations will find connectivity. Whatever ramification that carries for the local church has yet to be seen. I think your situation with the Four Square Church would lend some insight to this. Don't you?

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Shannon,

The story we have lived does lend some insight to this issue. Our story is somewhat separate from the Emergent issue, but the care for a sensible missiology is found in the Emergent discussion, and has been the cry of our hearts.

Thanks for some inside insight Shannon.

Webb Kline said...

Phil, I was half tongue-in-cheek on post post, as well. Yet, I have heard things like this, and when I do I am convinced that those asking the questions really don't grasp emergent. Many are on this band wagon to feel like they are on the cutting edge, yet their ministries are hardly emergent or missional in any respect.

I was talking with Missional Jerry last night and since he deals with ministry burn-out he has a real good handle on this. Few church leaders will ever be willing to pay the price (although that price is an illussion of ignorance) to become emergent/missional.

What bugs me is that I hear all this conversation about conversation, but I see very few people, you not included, who are doing anything about it. Until we are doing it, the illusions of grandeur will elude us.

I still won't have a cigar, though. ;)

Pastor Phil said...

I'm with you. Conversation is a great place to start. Action is the place to enact our conversation. And the conversation itself is fine among believers, but it becomes action when we have the conversation with those outside the faith as well.

Yeah skip the silly cigar bro. I'll have a pint 'r three with you.

David said...

The other question is, can you not drink micro-brews and be emergent?
I like them, so I guess I'm safe.

We are a service that is part of the emergent conversation, but our 'parent' church is typical right wing charismatic. It's an interesting relationship. I've had many a conversation over breakfast, coffee, and on the phone. But as my wife said last night (and I'm not bragging, but it shows that emergent is on to something) we've done more with our small group in 4 months in the community and around the world, than the first service has in 4 years with 300+ people.

Even my charismatic, right wing, conservative, evangelical pastor now believes emergent is a move of God!

I guess the conversations are paying off. In time, he too, will join the dark side! (just don't tell him about the beer) ;-)

Pastor Phil said...


Nice story about the small group. I'd like to hear some of the things you've done.

As far as your pastor:

I thought that coming over to the dark side meant drinking Guinness. Am I wrong?

David said...

After I heard the story behind Guiness, I've become a fan. But I haven't tried it in years.
Must try again.

Guiness is certainly not a micro-brew but it's got micro-brew attitude so it works for me.

Oh, and you can shoot lighting out of your fingertips, which is totally rad!

David said...

Maybe I should give a blog update on some of the cool stuff we've done.
Stay tuned... :-)

Anonymous said...

I think the "emergematic" (sweet word phil) conversations is super important. Jason Clark is a vineyard guy, buddy's with B. McClaren and the director of emergent U.K. (diff from us). His blog is on my blogroll. Not too impressed with Tony Jones response, espcially since over 25 percent of all christians globally self define as pentecostal or charismatic. One more reason that "the friend of emergent" logo appears no where on my blog. Emergent U.S. seems pretty narrow in its scope much of the time.

Heres to sometime brew imbibing (but totally non-smoking) emergecostalisiticism.

Webb Kline said...

As far as I know, micro-brews and/or quality dark beers are prerequisite for emergent. ;)

Pastor Phil said...

Yeah melikes emergematic too. Perhaps "mystergent."

Have you made an open request to dialogue about the issue?

Here is the thing I found most encouraging: Tony said that if anyone were to put together something along these lines of dialoging over Emergent/Pentecostal issues, they would be supportive of it.

Emergent Villlage has what Tony calls one 1/3 time employee - him. There are not the resources to make a go at all the potential fronts. My feeling is that Emergent doesn't know what to do with Pentecostals, and Charismatics right now. After all, most of them came out of Evangelicalism, and our spokesman on TV is Benny Hill - uhm Hinn. If we take the lead, I think we can show them how Pentecost and Emergence can work hand in hand.

I will be trying to create a place for that dialogue here in Salem. You wanna play tag, and do it on your coast bro?

Anonymous said...

Sounds good! I would love to take a crack at Charismergentism over here... We could do a "sync" thing again?


Pastor Phil said...

We will be setting up a conference in May, and will be trying to figure out how to create a live feed with interactive discussions if possible, but most certainly it will end up in podcasts.

Jim Henderson from Off-the-Map will be here, and I think that we have Jay Bakker locked in (not Emergent perhaps, but quite cool), and we're looking for a big Emergent voice too. We are going to try to set up some interactive experiences with a Dream Interpretation Outreach, a church service in a bar, and a vintage faith ritual setting. I'd like to get John Paul Jackson here, but I think he's moving to Texas at that time. John Paul could make the full impact of an Emergent/Pentecostal dialogue come to light.

Pastor Phil said...

oh! - Tony said he was up for being part of something like we are planning.

So - go Tony!

Pastor Phil said...


Emergent means - swimming to the top of a deep, deep draught to catch your breath.