Monday, March 26, 2007

out of context: phyllis tickle

But would you place the emerging church with Evangelicalism, or it is something else?"No, it’s not evangelicalism. American religion has four, pretty much equally divided, quadrants. Evangelicalism is one of them, charismatic Pentecostalism is another, the old mainline or social just Christians is a third quadrant, and then the liturgicals. And where the quadrants meet in the center there’s a vortex like a whirlpool and they are blending. So, much of the political energy is evangelical. There’s no question about that. Much of the religious energy is Pentecostal, but that’s combined with the strong ballast of social consciousness and of applied gospel that comes out of the mainline. And into the mix comes the liturgical traditions with the great gifts of the heritage of the church."

- as quoted on leadership today's out of ur

as much as i respect phyllis tickle, and as foolish as i undoubtedly am for cutting across her path, i think that her representation of the emergent conversation is a little idealistic. although the conversation itself should not be defined as evangelical the leading voices in the conversation have evangelical roots and, from my perspective anyway, often appear to be speaking out of and reacting against that tradition. moreover, although there are a number of strong, persuasive pentecostal voices within the conversation (emanating forth from leaders such as kevin rains and phil wyman) i believe that much of the spiritual energy within the conversation flows forth from liturgical and contemplative traditions, not from modern pentecostalism.

i realize that as westerners we often feel a need to define things so that we can properly categorize and compare such things with other things.* but i think that at this point emergent, which i would still argue is a conversation rather than an institution or ideology, is difficult if not impossible to define. that is not to say that phyllis' definition is not flattering. in fact, i suspect that most of the participants in the conversation would be ecstatic if, at some point in the not to distant future, phyllis' idealistic definition of emergent squares with "reality."

of course, that's only my opinion. i could be wrong. what do you think?

* wow, is that precise prose or what?