It is fair and balanced reporting, I think. Not in the vein of FOX News, but rather an honest attempt to understand what this thing we call “emerging church” is.
I am confused on one point of the article concerning the reflections of the author about emergent convention that he went to in April. John Music, my pastor has been to two of these convention/conference things now and always comes back stating surprise at how “focus(ed) on Jesus and living in the Kingdom of God” rather then the confusion and conflict the author presents in the “Cultural Collision” portion of the article.
In the end, I think it is representative of a certain comfort in chaos that the emerging church embodies that an overly organized, packaged and hierarchical evangelicalism has a problem understanding. It comes down to the perspective and expectation of the individual, perhaps based on their cultural experience and biases.
An example comes to mind; I attended a Bible study once were a person, not the leader, stated, afterwards, that they were really uncomfortable with fact that I was so willing to present conflicting ideas in the study, and that they felt this really under-minded the unity of the gathering and the teaching of the leader. Now this was not my intent, I was more interested in working through issues of faith presented in the study rather then just digesting the leader’s opinion and understanding. This is because I believed that disagreement by no means has to reflect on the unity of the group. Perhaps it did, I have been known to go too far in my debating. (Did I here someone snicker at me?)
There is just a certain comfort level that I have with disagreement that this person, who is a really nice person by the way, did not. They came from a conservative evangelical background that places a strong emphasis on the authority of the pastor in interrupting scripture and, in contrast, my tendency has always been to question authority. (Now, I know I heard you snicker that time!) It is a difference in mentality that I have come to understand as one of the valid points to be made of the split between the modern and the postmodern thinking.
Where one sees disorder and disagreement another sees something honest, holistic and organic. These identifiable emergent catchphrases have a tendency to trump a need for organizational orderliness and theological agreement in the postmodern mindset. So there is unity, just with a different focus.
Kudos to Andy Crouch on an excellent article.