Pagitt on Emergence, Emergent, & Emerging...Huh?
Doug responds to the "death" of the emerging church terminology.

In this video, Doug Pagitt explains the relationships between the terms emerging, Emergent, and "emergence." It strikes me as trying to decide which layer of the Incredible Gobstopper is the actual Gobstopper. But you should decide for yourself.

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September 22, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 29 comments

Brian Rice

October 01, 2008  3:42pm

Phyllis Tickle's book, The Great Emergence is actually pretty good. Her writing is a bit dense and run on sentences are common. But her details of church history are pretty accurate. And the 500 year framework she uses is quite interesting. And one of her fascinating points is that out of each of the previous emergences, the existing church did not die, but was actually renewed. However, now there was another "stream" (not her language) in place as well. This resonates with me more than those authors who are saying that the current emergence is the end of that which has gone before. I think this is what Burke is saying in his Heretics Guide to Eternity. About Pagitt on this video. His main point is right. Emergence is the enormous cultural shift which has a specific shift about religion/spirituality. And the emergent church network is one response to that bigger shift. But only one response. And his point is also good that there can and should be a lot of different responses. Even if he rambled to make the point.

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Steve Cuss

September 30, 2008  9:53pm

Nathan, I get what you're saying about internal verses external dialog, and I think its a valid point. I also think your first paragraph in your most recent post is right on and I, too am trying to navigate the same tensions. My beef with Emergent is that they've lost their fresh perspective. This video is typical of what I've heard from Pagitt over the last couple of years. Keep in mind that I am a 30 something post modernist, raised outside the church and seeking a missional approach to my immediate culture. I read Pagitt's reimagining books and liked them. But then I listened to a few podcasts featuring Pagitt and Jones - panel discussions, travelogues and interviews and that's when I knew my path was elsewhere. I just can't get past the attitude I guess and the largely irrelevant nature of this kind of video. how to be missional, church and culture issues, even deconstructing - I'm all for it. But this video really is hypernuance to me. I can't imagine this is what Doug wants his legacy to be.

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Sara

September 26, 2008  12:46pm

With regard to the "500" years comment: Has anyone ever done any study on church history? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? There has been a shift over the past 500 years, since the Reformation. The Reformation came around 500 years or so after the original Church formed, after the catholic (universal) church. There was much bloodshed because the catholic church was The True Church and also the Church of the State. To go against The Church was to commit treason. Luther was stirring up some big trouble when he interpreted the Bible himself and posted his 99 Thesis on Wittenberg Door. After the Reformation, things began to settle down. Then some splits in basic theology started. We had the Anapatists, the Calvinists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and all sorts of 'high church' and traditional denominations. Then the Pentacostals and Charasmatics started stirring things up. The Fundamentalists saw change on the horizon in the early 20th century. They founded some basic principles and stuck by them. Things again were beginning to get shaky. We were not where the original Church started. And again, those birth pangs are still growing. Many believe this is what is starting the Emerging Movement. Call it what you like. But many in church are tired of 'doing church.' They are tired of the show they see. They are tired of being told to act one way and then seeing another. They are tired of excluding people. They want to live Christ, not just learn about him.... So will the emerging movement go away? No. It may shift a little, change a little. And it does need leaders. No one is letting us lead, tho. I've offered to, many times in my church. But I won't do it 'their way.' But the hunger is still there. I saw it growing up in the 80s, heavily in the 90s, and I still see it today. And I understood the video. But I have done my homework. I know where I've come from.

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nathan

September 25, 2008  9:22am

I just think that communities that are trying to muddle through the complexity of the world will seem "hypernuanced" etc. precisely because they are trying to faithfully grapple with the nuanced and murky ambiguities of human existence and how that is reflected in our spirituality. If people don't see the world that way...or see their spirituality/religion as a means to cut through the ambiguities then good on ya... but to criticize someone for a different path and a self-aware grappling with things just doesn't make sense. Just cuz someone isn't tracking with something doesn't mean that there's something wrong with Doug. If you want to know...then you can ask... If you walk into an ongoing conversation you can either ask for clarifications and come along or bow out...but to be frustrated just seems silly. I mean, really... As if Doug would talk like this about Jesus/Church to a non-Christian he's in relationship with... I still think a criteria of criticism is being applied where it doesn't work.

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Steve Cuss

September 24, 2008  10:49pm

Brett, I'd have to agree with your comments here. I'm sure Doug is a good guy and he's quite famous, but to me this video is a good metaphor for just how off track the whole movement is. Hyper nuanced and internally focused. Emergence, emerging, Emergent Village. It really doesn't matter much.

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Brett

September 24, 2008  6:35pm

Nathan, I agree that the video is meant for "in-house" discussion. But I also believe that the way communities talk about themselves and understand themselves "in-house" has a direct bearing on how they are perceived by outsiders. That we so readily speak of ourselves in such jargon-heavy abstractions ("missional," etc) seems to me to have a necessarily conflating effect on the way we construct our image for outsiders. I guess I just don't see why we are complicating our identity so much. The world is complex enough! What the world needs is something direct, coherent, unified, practical, salvific... that is: Jesus Christ. "Emergent" stuff and all that comes with it just clouds up the picture, first for ourselves and then–as a corollary–for how we appear to the world.

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nathan

September 24, 2008  1:13pm

So Brett, are you saying that a discussion about a different way to construct "self-understanding" of the Christian community represents some kind of missional failure? I mean, is this video a missional/outreach tool or is this video meant as an "in-house" discussion about some theories about how to see/understand our Christian spirituality? I mean..I get that it would be lost on an outsider...but I don't think this video is meant for "outsider" consumption. Foreign criteria of evaluation, wouldnt you say?

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Brett

September 24, 2008  12:17pm

Imagine if you were an unchurched person who stumbled upon this video. The natural response, in the parlance of generation text, would be "wtf?!" What is this crazy white man with rings on his fingers talking about? Emergence? Emergent? Emerging? All this discussion of "categories" and "conversations" and "cultural shifts"? We'll never win any outsiders when we are so gratuitously esoteric and abstract in the way we talk about ourselves.

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nathan

September 23, 2008  5:07pm

I see that some of you evangelicals on this thread are trying hard to corner the market on scorn–as if you haven't distinguished yourselves enough. it's funny how the anti-intellectual strains of your community casts anything that requires an attention span as sophistry, self-importance, etc. It's a lovely text book example of how people interpret people through their own motives. This site is constantly filled with comments that attribute motives and attitudes to people that they do not demonstrate and, when asked, openly eschew. Yes, truly the bearers of "good news" and grace. If there's ever a moment where someone should be thankful they wouldn't be welcome in your community, this one does it for me. Really. Thank you. Seriously.

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Kai Schraml

September 23, 2008  2:20pm

Who should care? No one...move on...people are dying (and barely living)...now!

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