Tony Jones is the national coordinator of Emergent Village and author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. Collin Hansen is editor-at-large of Christianity Today and author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists. Both books take a sympathetic journalistic approach to a young but growing movement in American Christianity, examining why it's growing and how it's changing the larger church.
When you have two groups that care so much about theology, you'll always have something to talk about. E-mail conversations like this are helpful; sharing a meal together is even better. There is a tendency for all of us to write things for the Web that we would not say across a table. Nothing can substitute for the immediate give-and-take of face-to-face dialogue. I hope these interactions will continue and forestall the rush toward entrenchment in polemical blogs and books.
I do think that criticism can be constructive. I would be eager to hear about how Emergent has beaten back false critiques and even shifted course after observations that hit their mark. With the young, Reformed crowd I profiled, they face a great deal of criticism, both unfair and deserved. Some of it is easy to refute, such as the charge that Calvinists do not evangelize. Maybe these critics are not familiar with Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Carey, Judson, or even Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad. Nevertheless, young Calvinists have set out to evangelize with zeal, lest anyone still wonder. On the other hand, Reformed theologians have earned a reputation for picking each other apart but not applying their theology. Hopefully the young Calvinists will heed this critique and further ...