Emergent on Statement of Faiths

Tony Jones and LeRon Sholts posted over on the Emergent blog a post about Emergent creating a statement of faith.

Whether it appears in the by-laws of a congregation or in the catalog of an educational institution, a “statement of faith” tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community. Too often they create an environment in which real conversation is avoided out of fear that critical reflection on one or more of the sacred propositions will lead to excommunication from the community. Emergent seeks to provide a milieu in which others are welcomed to join in the pursuit of life “in” the One who is true (1 John 5:20). Giving into the pressure to petrify the conversation in a “statement” would make Emergent easier to control; its critics could dissect it and then place it in a theological museum alongside other dead conceptual specimens the curators find opprobrious. But living, moving things do not belong in museums. Whatever else Emergent may be, it is a movement committed to encouraging the lively pursuit of God and to inviting others into a delightfully terrifying conversation along the way.

I think its great on a number of levels. First, it ticks of all Emergent Critics who are trying to pin down their beliefs only to rip into them. I think the reasons Sholts posted are pretty valid but there are a few concerns posted below that I think are good also. Of course the critics don’t want to really interact with it all, they just think its “stupid.” Only enhancing the idea that its probably better that they don’t. It’s interesting how easy it is to tell those that are just looking for something to rip into and those that are actually seeking truth and looking to encourage and seek together. There is also a few other good posts responding to this statement, positive and negative.

Jesus Creed responds, Think Tank responds, Hope Orbis and A Slice of Laodicea.

A few negative useless statements from Jollyblogger who merely only quoted SmartChristian.

3 thoughts on “Emergent on Statement of Faiths”

  1. Do you think his description of “statements of faith” would apply to the ecumenical creeds (e.g. Nicea) as well?

    And I’m wondering about one of your statements: “Of course the critics don’t want to really interact with it all, they just think its “stupid.” Only enhancing the idea that its probably better that they don’t.”

    I worry about the two “sides” sealing themselves off from each other… this seems like the same pattern that happens when new movements start and are eventually excluded from the old ones. If emergent is to be different, wouldn’t it have to avoid this?

    I dunno, just thinking.

  2. Hey Nathan,
    With exams, papers and graduation, I haven’t had much opportunity to check out any more emerging stuff lately. Now that I’m back in the proverbial saddle, I thought I’d take a gander. That, and blogspot isn’t working, so I’m stuck reading non-blogspot blogs.
    After I read this post I thought to myself, man I wish these guys could come to that Edwards Centre conference at the end of the month. The speaker will be dealing with creedal statements and he would be an excellent person to ask some questions about confessionalism.
    I don’t find confessional statements to be divisive at all. The history of the church attests to this, confessions of faith, catechetical statements, church statements of faith, etc., provide the basis of unity.
    And most definitely they are not to be found in a museum awaiting dissection. A statement of faith, to the best of its abilities, should reflect biblical truth — that’s the whole point of a confession. The greater the reflection of Biblical truth the better the reflection of Christ. And Christ is certainly living!
    In my library I have tonnes of various confessional statements as well as books and commentaries on them. They provide for me a rich understanding of the Christian faith. Not all of them agree with one another on every minute point, but they certainly are of fundamental unity at the core of the Christian faith.
    If you ever get the chance or the inkling to do it, I would highly recommend a study of the historic statements of faith of the church. It would prove to be a delight to your soul I trust.
    On another note, how did your exams, etc., go? Are you out of school yet? I hope that you’ll have a good summer.

  3. Hey Andrew, good comments.
    A few thoughts I have. The only reason I pointed out that critics think its stupid is because I think its stupid not to interact with it. I was disturbed at the fact that people would read his whole post and their only comment was thats stupid and choose not to interact with it. I think that is tearing down and not building up. I also think its prideful to think that your own personal view is so much higher than someone elses that you can just point to theirs and say its dumb without clarifying and just carry on. What good does that really do? The reason I said it is probably better if they dont is because of their attitudes towards it, not because I dont think its a good idea. If all they are going to do is call it names, it almost proves a sense of not being open to anything, and those conversations are impossible to have.

    The only people I would suggest sealing yourself off from are the ones that refuse to talk about it and only want to bicker and argue and call names. That is useless. I am completely sold on all sides coming together in one uplifting conversation all helping each other seek truth, not their own rightness. I hope Ive proven that on this blog, that I really do value bringing the two sides together to help come to a better understanding of truth.

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