Emerging/Emergent Trait 4: Welcoming the Stranger - Sept 17
Description: This emphasis here is on hospitality as a part of community. Inclusion is another key value. "Jesus' community shared the benefits of the kingdom with those who were excluded." Another point is that "postmodernity represents, on the other hand, a time when plurality is accepted and order and control are relinquished." So there is an emphasis on the practices of inclusion. The Eucharist is moved from an occasional observance to the central act of worship. Sharing a meal with others is a welcoming act of the kingdom. "Everyone is equal when we gather." A goal is to treat those who enter "as angels who visit us everyday." Another hope is to create the welcome place into a safe place where people can dwell. Some churches meet in cafes and offer therapeutic counseling. Comprised of people with many different perspectives who are committed to relationship. They are committed to following Jesus as Lord of their journey, not merely sharing Jesus as one among a range of options. "We are very Christocentric, which means while we recognize God's presence in other religions and in people of no faith, we still see Jesus as the most perfect revelation of God and therefore the surest route to God." These churches engage in dialogue with others, fully aware that the church has often erred when it has made claims about God." Standing up for the truth or fighting the culture wars has no appeal to emerging church leaders. Those outside the faith are more interested in the ethics of Christians than their doctrines. So there is a move from verbal apologetics to embodied apologetics, since they see verbal apologetics as too cognitive. Apologetics should increasingly take the role of spiritual direction rather than confrontation. "We are more about dialogue and discussion with them than about obliterating them with heavy-handed apologetics." So the move is from having an agenda to letting the Holy Spirit carry the agenda. There is not a "coming alongside" or "friendship evangelism." These are seen as less than authentic. Be the good news. Do not have an ulterior motive. So change lives rather than changing beliefs and from speaking about grace to grace speaking through lives. To live a public faith in the midst of culture. "We deemphasize the idea that Christians have God and all others don't try by attempting to engage in open two-way conversations. This does not mean we have lapsed into relativism, as we still beleive in the uniqueness of our own tradition, but we believe it teaches us to be open to all. We are also genuinely open to being wrong about parts and perhaps all our beliefs–while at the same time being fully committed to them." Evaluation: Once again several of these values are helpful to pursue. Hospitality and engagement of others. Seeking to incarnate the faith, not just deal with it intellectually. But it is here where the imbibbing of the culture's values may be too great. The Scripture does not embrace a pluralism in the sense defined here and neither did the early church. Communion as an affirmation of faith is an "insider's" meal. Even believers are warned about how to partake it (1 Cor 11). Yes, we need to be open to being corrected about God and the church has been wrong about some thoughts about God in the past, but how does the affirmation of faith in the one true God and his unique work through Christ allow room for having "all our beliefs being wrong." This is a wrongheaded type of open mindedness. Either what God has done through Jesus is a revelatory act of God or it is not. There was no negotiating in either Judaism or Christianity with the idea that there was one true God and idolatry was not true or real. The contrasts about coming alongside or friendship evangelism are too starkly stated. Yes, when evangelism is done just to get conversion notches on one's belt something is wrong. But most people I know who share care deeply about those they draw near to and pray for them with intense sincerity. Throughout Scripture certain views (like there is no God) are said simply to be foolish, reflecting a complete absence of wisdom. That does not mean one is to be crass or "heavy-handed" but it does mean sometimes one should stand up for the truth (and yes, even certain propositions).