On this last team, I met Chris, my fraternal twin. He's 4 years my junior, but the similarities are uncanny: same taste in music, trained as teachers, worked at summer camps and as youth pastors, Oilers fans, Mac users thus multimedia creators, guitar players, etc.
What was even more uncanny were the similarities in our belief systems: politics, education, Christianity. We managed to snag a few hours to discuss our thoughts - an encouraging time for certain. We also traded books. What I got was The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Tony Jones. It is an introduction to the recent movement of Christians seeking deeper commitments to God, Church, the World, and to One Another, but outside of mainstream Christianity.
When I read Brian McLaren's book A New Kind of Christian 3 1/2 years ago, it affirmed dozens of sentiments and thoughts that I had been carrying for several years, but thought were rebellious. Thoughts and sentiments such as:
should Christians be so insecure about other Christians salvation?In essence, why is there no room for discussion, no room for disagreement, no room for cooperation, no room for new conclusions and no room for new combinations of beliefs? (there isn't one denomination that teaches all of the beliefs I hold)
why do I disagree with so many political views that other Christians push?
why do denominations fail to work together?
should Christians be spending so much money on church buildings and self-interested projects?
why do Christians necessarily have to interpret the Bible in such a literal sense? why isn't there a taught distinction between fact and truth?
where is the emphasis on serving the poor? the infected? the refugees?
why are so many people leaving churches? why are youth pastors, in particular, not attending church anymore despite a declared faith in Jesus Christ?
there must be some truth in the world religions because God wouldn't have abandoned the cries and search for truth of billions of people just because they haven't been calling to Him in Jesus' name, right?
why must strong lines be drawn on issues like creation/evolution, homosexuality, politics, end times prophecies, alcohol, etc.
This emergent movement is extremely encouraging to me. Critics call it a slippery slope to pluralism. They are entitled to their opinion. I think that this is a fearful response to a people who are genuinely seeking God (insecurity). I think denominations fear an eroding base to support their bureaucracies. I think a decentralized faith is necessary and possible (with the Internet providing the platform for much of the networking and discussions). I think believers will be better able to deepen their relationships with God and people when there aren't a list of stock answers to their questions.
What do you think?