Okay, so no one's had the chutzpah to frame the question so baldly. But each group seems to assume the answer in its favor–at least, that's the impression you'd get from some emergent critiques of traditional evangelicals and from some traditional-evangelical critiques of emergents. But what if we asked the question directly, and tried to answer it just as directly: Who is more spiritually mature? On the whole, are emergent believers or traditional evangelicals more faithful in their following of Christ?

To answer, we need a clear standard for measuring Christian spirituality. The best one is given by Jesus (Mark 12:29-31), but presumably both emergents and traditionals have already read that and used that for their critiques of the other. Could we find a standard of Christian spirituality that encompasses Jesus' teaching yet offers fresh points of differentiation? We might consider the four "nonnegotiable essentials" of Christian spirituality laid out by Ronald Rolheiser in The Holy Longing:

1. Private prayer and private morality: "In many of the spiritual classics of Christian literature, the writers ? suggest that we will make progress in the spiritual life only if we, daily, do an extended period of private prayer, and only if we practice a scrupulous vigilance in regards to all the moral areas within our private lives. In essence, that is the first nonnegotiable within the spiritual life."

2. Social justice: "? according to the Jewish prophets, where we stand with God depends not just upon prayer and sincerity of heart but also on where we stand with the poor. ? All Christian churches have always taught this, in one way or the other, and they have also always, in their best expressions, lived it out."

3. Mellowness of ...

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