There’s a debate in Christianity today, in fact it’s a movement of debate, a conversation, and it has been called the emerging Church.
This isn’t about one particular denomination or theological emphasis, this is a conversation, seeking to grapple with what we believe and why. It’s a groundswell of Christian individuals and groups who are disillusioned with organized and institutional Church and long to divorce faith and a love for Jesus from what are perceived as the obsolete traditions of human institutions. They long for faith to be less of a cold in-or-out belief club and more about Jesus.
However, there’s been quite a kickback from some at what they see as a dangerous doctrinal carelessness in the proponents of this movement which stems from their perceived failure to use Scripture as the normative standard of truth. They say (probably rightly) that the act of questioning why, which is necessarily close to doubting, may detract from the potency of what we believe. Basically, they’re concerned that questioning the very core beliefs and fundamental values of Christianity with such vigour may allow heresies to spring up. Also, because the emerging Church conversation is about finding fresh expressions of church in cafes etc it can be very nebulous.
I see there’s a balance to be struck. The more I read about the emerging Church conversation the more I think Christianity in general (that’s a huge generalisation!) must have lost the vision somewhere. For sure, loads of unhelpful liturgy and man-made religious baggage has masqueraded The Way, that’s why Jesus railed so fiercely against the religious establishment of his day while he walked these trails. I understand that this same Spirit lives inside us, the Spirit that longs to smash institutional unbelief which only dampens God’s work. Yes, we must declare the timeless truths of our fallen state and of God’s transformational love to today’s culture, not yesterday’s.
However, what the Holy Spirit initiated in the early Church is our best model for a Kingdom of Heaven shaped society, the most direct demonstration of the body of Christ, a pure picture of Christian praxism; it’s where it’s at! The first 120 men and women were filled with the Holy Spirit with Jesus’ words and life still in their heads, in their hearts. They knew him as man to man. I am convinced that it is vital that we renew Acts 2 & Acts 4 sharing of goods and possessions if Christianity is to overcome the obstacles that the emerging Church conversation sees, and indeed, it is the most logical lifestyle for every born again Christian.
I belong to a Church group and particularly share my life, money and possessions (except my toothbrush, that sort of thing) with a household of two families and nine other singles. I seek to pour my time, energy and love into this community of friends. It’s my lifestyle and I recommend it with the whole of my heart, not because it’s easy, but because it is radical, devoted and it’s the way that Jesus lived and taught. We stand for the beauty and strength of the gathered body, the new society, the Kingdom church.
Please don’t mistake me, I full-well know my Church is not the final answer, it’s certainly not the defining incarnation of the Kingdom of God; we have far to go, and I long to get there. But in conclusion, if the emerging Church is about slashing and burning the truth that martyrs died to make known, especially biblical truth, then count me out. However, if the emerging Church conversation is about how we can best love God, the poor, our neighbours and our enemies, then let’s acknowledge that path’s only trod as we get back to the pure work of the Holy Spirit- the Kingdom koinonia sharing of our whole lives. If that happens, count me in. Both feet.