Monday, July 17, 2006

Blah in Bristol

Friday saw CMS bring their excellent Blah tour to Bristol. Featuring Ryan Bloger, an academic from Fuller seminary in the US who specialises in emerging church; Karen Ward, Abbess of the Church of the Apostles in Seattle; Jonny Baker from CMS; Ben Edson from Sanctus1 in Manchester; and loads of folk from Foundation.

I was a bit of a grouch, I confess, but a number of things struck me:

1. I am allergic to the word 'postmodern'. It is either meaningless, and so shouldn't be used, or it is a seriously flawed description of the world, and so shouldn't be used, or else it is describing something anti-Christian, and so shouldn't be used positively by Christians. I have ranted about this before, and I feel another one coming on ...

2. Emerging church looks remarkably like 1960s and 1970s British liberal Christianity. In fact I was sent straight back to reading John AT Robinson's The New Reformation. More to explore here, but as a liberal Christian I fear for the state of liberal Christianity and hence for the future of the emerging church!

3. All the talk of flat leadership, democracy and peace-love-and-flower-power is simply rubbish. Karen Ward said that anyone who goes could tell you about her church. So why did she get the plane ticket to the UK? I don't dispute that she should, I'm just saying that she does have a clear leadership role that should be more truthfully owned. In truth, I think that the charismatic/evangelical personality cult has made it through into post-evangelicalism and the emerging church, whilst the denial continues. Only this time the leaders have blogs!

I did say it was grouchy (displaced impatience, I suspect). But it was a superb day, with much food for thought.

Developments on this thinking later, perhaps. But right now there are other things to occupy my mind ...

4 comments:

charity said...

I like grouchy, though am slightly worried about how much more grouchy grouchy will be when those five am feeds kick in.
I share your postmodernity allergy.

Gareth said...

Ah - personality cults in denial.

I am sure that there is a correlation there, between postmodernism and the people who spout it, but I'm afraid to mention it just in case a Baudrillardian analysis brands me as so reliant on my anti-postmodernist stance that even my complex dissimulation of the poststructural metanarrative can be cognitively deconstructed (through assimilative reconstructions of the hypernarrative) by a five year old to prove that I am talking out of my bottom.

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John H said...

1. Whilst I accept your criticism of the word 'postmodern', the problem remains that there has been a cultural shift and we have no better word to describe that shift. Perhaps you can invent one for us?

2. I'm not at all convinced about this. Emerging Church might look somewhat like Liberal Anglo-Catholicism, but arguably the latter concept is self-contradictory anyway.

Anyway, I enjoyed the day too, and am still pondering the challenges I took away from it.