There's a new article "On the Square" at the First Things Web site - the article is also in my "Sharing" widget if you're looking there. Kristen Scharold tackles the Emergent/ing Conversation and a book, Why We're Not Emergent, that critiques it. I agree with much that she says about the movement: There are fundamental problems here. But I'd also like to add several thoughts. It is easy in such short spaces to brush too broadly - as I am sure I am also about to do.
First, the movement is large and varied. There are many who are bent liberally and many who are bent conservatively. There are those who question all the dogmas of the Church and those who embrace as fundamental the great creeds of the Church. This movement consists mostly of young men and women who love Jesus and want to love people better. It also consists of some who have left the Church and, therefore, Christ though they are still largely unaware of it. Therefore, given its variety, it is difficult to cast a blanket over the entire movement.
Second, I was reading this morning of how the Holy Father has called bishops to see and reflect upon "the ecclesial movements and new communities [within the Church] as a gift of the Holy Spirit." The pope also exhorted the bishops, "I ask you to go out and meet the movements with much love." Now, these quotes are in reference to movements that rise up within Catholicism, that rise up to meet the Day. But there are similarities and differences with Emergent/ing. The similarities are that the Holy Spirit moves in his people and takes on different expressions, but it is the same Spirit. And in Emergent/ing there is much that the Spirit of God has done and is doing. I don't want anyone to miss this truth. The differences, however, are more and can be more serious: (1) There is a dearth of teaching embraced in Emergent/ing, no tradition that many in Emergent/ing are loyal to. Much of it is towering arrogance dressed up in humility. Sometimes there seems to be no loyalty at all but to the current wind. This "scarcity" of belief is why so many Evangelicals reject the movement - it is not, however, that those involved don't have beliefs or ascribe to doctrines, it's that they believe being a Christian is bigger than what one believes - the focus is elsewhere. And I would agree that following Jesus is more than a checklist of beliefs. But it certainly entails one's beliefs, and doctrine is certainly necessary - if you lose the doctrine, you've lost Christ. (As an analogy, there can be no friendship with me if you believe that I am a homosexual woman who is a Buddhist. Your beliefs do not keep me from still loving you, but it makes you unable to truly love me because you do not know me.) (2) They have rarely been embraced by the traditional communities they spring out of. I believe that if there were a greater reception of these men and women by their communities, a more open ear, rather than grim dismissals, the Emergent/ing movement could move as it was meant to. And while I suspect this acceptance has happened in places, some find Emergent/ing impossible to accept because some of those involved in the movement have also rejected the doctrine of their various traditions in favor of differing doctrine and, in some cases, none. I do not believe that the Emergent/ing movement is the direction the Holy Spirit wants Protestant Christians to move in, but I believe he is very active within it as he has done good work through many involved - just as he is present and working in traditional Evangelical communities. There are things in the Emergent/ing movement that the traditional Evangelical community can and should learn from. And there are things within traditional Evangelicalism that Emergent/ing must learn from.
Anyway, to recap, I wish the movement had a better anchor and I wish they were better loved. I pray that it will and that it will be. There are precious people who love our Lord deeply who consider themselves Emergent/ing. But I also hope and pray that they will be led back to the Church, the ecclesiology, (and, that is to say, Christ) that they so desperately need.
One needs a boat anchored to push out from or he loses the boat.