Act 2: Emerging on the Margins

<%image(20050330-church outside.jpg|85|124|church outside)%> Continuing my Back Blog: In light of the latest shots the Baptist Press has been taking at the Emerging Church (calling it a “Threat to the Gospel.” Take note of the one-sided view of the article!), the poorly researched critiques from prominent evangelical theologians, and some personal cheap shots that have been dished out at emergent theologians, I have caught myself fuming with anger and frustration.

I have simultaneously been reading up on liberation theology, a movement that reads scripture in light of oppression, poverty, and the margins of society. The other night these two concepts fused together in my mind . . .

Though I would never insult liberation theology by saying that I, a priviledged white male who grew up in the middle class of America, can completely identify with the struggles of liberation theologians; I can at least say that I have a renewed understanding of how difficult it is to live on the margins. Our situations may differ vastly, but my sympathy throbs for the oppressed in new ways now.

As one who has found the emerging church to be a refreshing conversation, I am particularly irked at the way that it has been dismissed and misrepresented. It makes me realize that no matter how many divisive people may be within the emergent movement, it’s leadership is no where near as divisive and petty as the leaders of evangelicalism.

My own reading of many critiques of emergent is: “They don’t talk about the Bible, the Gospel, and culture in the same way as us, so they must be wrong.” That’s a horrible paraphrase, but just read this article and let me know what you think. Generosity in the area of doctrine does not exist in the evangelical camp, and if the emerging church ends up isolated from evangelicalsim, I can tell you that the fingers should not be pointing at emergent.

As those who hold the power and influence within evangelicalsim misrepresent emergent and dismiss it, I have felt a little taste of what it’s like to be on the margins, to be on the outside looking in. It is a terrible feeling. I have found myself praying desperately, asking God for strength to go on. Asking for grace to move forward patiently while I am misunderstood, insulted, and left out. My respect for Christians who endure real oppression for the sake of the Gospel has multiplied exponentially.

I have realized how important it is to advocate the cause of the poor and oppressed. To be a voice for the economically disadvantaged in the city, in the suburbs, on indian reservations, around the world, etc. It makes my church’s food pantry and benevolence fund seem all that more important and crucial. It makes me realize that my position in society can be used to continue oppression, or to relieve it.