Students of Emergent (Emerging Students?)

I know some of you might disagree, but I’m pretty convinced that we can learn quite a bit from the Emergent movement.  Of course, the Emergent movement is quite “liquid,” so I guess I tend to appreciate the more orthodox side of it – I learn more from those who are more faithful to Scripture, in other words.  I’ve mentioned An Emergent Manifesto of Hope ed. by Pagitt and Jones (2007) here before, and though some of the chapters were frankly repulsing, I think one of the better ones is “Humble Theology” by Dan Kimball.  Here are a few excerpts.

“I want to be continually discussing, learning, reading, and thinking seriously about all varieties of theological thought.  I want to be constantly exploring which theological beliefs have changed throughout history, which ones have remained consistent.  There are many unknowns and mysteries in theology.  We should be able to continually think and learn about theology with open hearts and open minds.  It is not a weakness to explore theology outside what we’ve been taught in our specific church or seminary.  It’s not a weakness to admit there is a lot we just don’t know.  I see that as a strength, not a weakness.  Weakness is when we simply close our minds and become afraid to explore different ideas, which may mean we are afraid to be challenged or discover something new.”

In some ways and to some extent we try to do that on this blog (and see here for more info). Kimball closes the chapter with a few thoughts to ponder.  I’ll list a few (emphasis his).

We can hold certain beliefs as truth and not feel arrogant or close-minded when we do.  Yes, there is mystery, and yes, there are a lot of unknowns, but we can still confidently say we do know certain things that God revealed to us. …  It is not a weakness to be open to theological rethinking. … Approach theology with humility. … Be loving and gracious to others when you disagree.”

These are things worth wrestling over, especially in our changing times.  A hundred years ago we could stand for the truth against the liberals with a fundamentalist defensive posture.  Today is a different day.  We need a different posture of standing for the truth.  We have different people to speak the gospel to – not many higher critics and liberals, but more skeptics, doubters, mockers, the broken-hearted, and the poor.  Humility and love is, I believe, a great posture to assume as we stand on and for the truth.  And it sounds quite biblical!

Speaking of being students of Emergent, I have this “Five Perspectives” book coming in the mail, so stay tuned.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

3 Replies to “Students of Emergent (Emerging Students?)”

  1. To your list of those to whom we need to speak the gospel with humility and gentleness, I would recommend adding another: “to one another.” We in the Reformed world tend to disagree with each other while standing for the truth with something less than love and humility and gentleness, and the same goes for when we disagree with those outside our tradition (at least in many public forums).


  2. Wow – very interesting. Good quotes and a very thoughtful approach to theological humility.


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