Saturday, November 27, 2004

Christian Century: "The Emergent matrix"

In a cost-cutting move, I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions, so thanks to Will for the heads-up that the long-awaited Christian Century article on the emerging church is in the November 30 edition. It's written by Scott Bader-Saye a theology professor at the University of Scranton.

(CC is stingy about putting their articles online. The piece may be up next week, and they'll only leave it up for a couple weeks; then it won't be archived. In short, you may have to buy a copy of the mag, or copy it if they put it online.)

[UPDATE: the article is now available, for a limited time, here.]

In any case, Bader-Saye attended the Emergent Convention last year (and kudos to him for also attending the Emerging Women Leaders' Breakfast there), and he interviewed Brian McLaren, Bob Webber, and Holly Rankin Zaher and her husband, Jim. (In my estimation, Brian and Jim come across as wise, and Bob comes across (again) as overly cynical.) For only that amount of contact, the piece is surprisingly insightful.

The article is also fair and even generous towards Emergent. Bader-Saye rightfully portrays Emergent as a movement (a.k.a., conversation) of postevangelicals who from the beginning were in conversation with post-liberals and with theologians more palatable to the mainline.

But best of all, Bader-Saye improves the oft-cited "ancient-future" paradox to "relevant-resistant": "I am encouraged by the vision of a truly missional church," he writes, "both relevant and resistant, that incarnates a real alternative to mainline 'maintenance' churches and evangelical 'megachurches.'"

He concludes the piece: "So often the church is renewed 'from the edges, not from the center,' as Rowan Williams has pointed out. As we attend to what is emerging at the edges of the American scene, we would do well to keep that lesson in mind and to heed Williams's further advice: "Be grateful for new things happening, even if they are not easily digestible.'"


Blogger Sivin Kit said...

I'll be looking forward to read this piece after reading the Christianity today piece. Why do you think it comes across "more positive"?

(I've also read the excerpts online for the book Reclaiming the Center and found much said critical of the work of Stanley Grenz)

6:05 PM  
Blogger Ron Cole said...

Just thinking about your comment in the last paragraph from Rowan Williams, about change come from the margins rather than the center.
I can remember having many cups of coffee over a period a few years ago with a Pastor friend, talking church and seminaries...and the need for change. We always ended on the same sour note. He would always ended with the same comment, " change will never come from the inside, it will only come from the outside."
I can remember being so pissed off and frustrated by that remark. I loved the church, for a season I thought it could be changed from the inside...I was wrong. I am now a margin dweller...learning to live outside the walls.
Just like the prophets of old were margin dwellers, living on the boundaries of religion, the spoke into the center causing change. The same voice is speaking into the center today.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Scott Bader-Saye said...

Tony, thanks for the comments on the article. FYI it should be available on the Christian Century website,, beginning Monday, Dec. 6

9:06 AM  

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