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Kristine Socall

Well said! Thank you for writing such a gracious post. After coming back to Wheaton, IL from WALP and the Emergent Convention, I have told many people how gracious I perceived the speakers and conversation facilitators to be. I hope that spirit is something we can all be known by. Regardless of varying doctrine or belief, I found there to be something in most of the people I met at the conventions--something that I have a hard time labeling, other than to say that they embodied love and exuded Christ. When I happened to be in the same restaurant or be sitting in the same coffee shop, I saw many of the Emergent folks treating the servers with such respect, with interest in their stories, with a gracious and loving spirit, and remembering the names of those who served you coffee multiple times over the course of the conventions. I watched as you walked around places, not so much in a hurry to get to the next thing, but with a genuine interest and selfless attentive spirit to those around you, able and willing to be interrupted and listen to the folks who wanted to say hi. That speaks volumes, more than what is said in a seminar. Thanks for living what you speak of.

andrew jones

feels good to get this document posted and public - a little scary also. i am proud to put my john hancock on the top.


Well done guys.


Thanks for taking the step for us all who think/feel/see/understand (or not)/envision/hope/believe differently but yet alike. It is a time to take what we see playfully seriously and progress with the Good News. It's all too important to let the criticism sting and not look at ourselves in the eye of the critic.

Dan-D from Canada

I have this irresponsible urge to quote Yul Brynner from 'The Ten Commandments' - "So let it be written. So let it be done." Sorry, everyone.

After reading this post I feel very encouraged. All of the names attatched are of people who have stuck their necks out time and again, waiting for the axe of fundamentalism to attempts numerous messy haircuts. As a fellow Christ-follower in this crazy world of ours, I say thank you. The encouragement you pass along to countless believers who have needed to hear your words is an example to us all.

This is an excellent, gracious response to the critics of emergent. Thanks again, and may God help all of us to extend grace the way you have demonstrated.

Barry from Fresno

Great response everyone. I feel so confident in the leadership of emergent and emergentvillage when I read a response as gracious and generous (thanks brian) as that. While we continue to encounter God how we feel he has called us, we can only respond to critics with love, open ears and grace. Thanks again.

Existential Punk

Very well articulated and filled with honesty and humility. Thank you! After the Emergent Convention was over in Nashville, the manager at the kiosk on the 3rd floor commented to me and my friend that our group of people were the nicest, quietest, and most patient he had seen. Keep up the beautiful work!

Mark Berry

(Also posted at TSK) mmm it will be interesting to see what EmergentNO make of this... for my part I think is an excellent response and unlike Roger (Ateam) feel that considering the bile that has been spouted by many about the emergent conversation it is extremely charitable and balanced... Well done all and thank you from one not so articulate.


Thank-you guys, for this. Your words are generous, gracious, and vulnerable. As one who has attempted (badly) to engage some emergent critics recently and coming away remimded that: "a fool is known in a multitude of words" , I appreciate your leadership and eloquence. I will shut up now and get on with what I am supposed to be doing...

the holly

amen and amen.

Matt Stone

Thanks for the post guys, its a well needed contibution to the conversation, but what you don't seem to make clear enough is the distinction between Emergent (as a group) and the Emerging Church (as a scene).

I take it from the title and the "official" tagline that you're answering on behalf of the former, but the first responder was clearly confused on that point when I visited his site.

If Im mistaken and your answering on behalf of the larger scene then I'd suggest broader international representation is required. I'd appreciate it if you could "officially" make it explicit. God bless.

Matt Stone

Chad Farrand

Well stated! Thanks yall.

Mike Morrell

This fills me with hope for our little "spleen" of the Body of Christ; it is good to know that we can have unity in the Spirit even while experiencing cognitive dissonance amongst ourselves.

Thank you for the gentle character you continue to display, my brothers. It is a high-water mark in the Way of Jesus.


gentlemen! thanks for displaying the generosity and graciousness of jesus! i am proud to call you friends. and i am excited about what is in the future. i'll be praying as the crew meets this week listening for what god has up his sleeve next. thanks again for all you do! lil

brian McLaren

A quick reply to Matt's suggestion about a broader inclusion internationally ...

First, thanks for being sensitive to this issue. We're working hard to be sensitive to the issue as well.

Because of the realities of publishing, markets, etc., it is "western" voices that get published most often (and of western voices, Americans most of all), and therefore get criticized most often. (A Latin American theologian friend of mine says, "Remember - Latin American theology is quite rare in Latin America. What is most common is exported North American theology!")

As you imply, the voices of our brothers and sisters in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are too seldom heard. The only upside of this is that they aren't being criticized as much. It didn't make sense to invite these good people to join in a response to criticism they aren't receiving. I'm sorry if this seemed like yet another snub to their voices ...

Please know that we're trying to help their voices be heard so they receive the attention they deserve - for example, Spencer Burke's work with theooze.com creates space for one of the most international conversations available, and we've included articles from emerging leaders around the world on the emergentvillage.com website, and hope to do more of this in the future. Soon, a new international website will go up - its name, leadership, language diversity, and content will, we hope and pray, help all of us pay more attention to our sisters and brothers who are nonwestern and non-English-speaking. Of course, "going public" with their postcolonial Christian thinking will probably expose them to criticism similar to what we've received - I hope many of us will come to their defense if that occurs.

Also, as you imply, I know that some folk (especially in England, I think) identify a lot with the term "emerging church" and not so much with the emergent conversation - for a number of reasons. I'd say that this conversation is not as much a "group" as you might think. My sense is that its edges are very blurry, and it is probably as much a "scene" as anything else. My hope (just speaking for myself) is that this conversation will resource, stimulate, encourage, and help our fellow Christians in many "scenes" - the emerging church (however it's defined), the evangelical church, the mainline protestant church, even the ancient churches ... since we believe that God loves the church at large in all its forms, and so do we. We're all in this together.

Again, we didn't want to make ourselves spokespeople for anyone but ourselves - we tried to make that clear in the statement. We who signed the document are drawn together because we have published books and spoken and worked together, and in the process, we have become dialogue partners and friends. As well, we have been the subject of criticism in a number of books, articles, etc., and it was to those criticisms we were seeking to respond helpfully. I hope that addresses, at least in part, this important comment/suggestion from Matt.

Marty Duren

Thanks guys for your openness and humility. It is very encouraging.


Thank you, my friends, for these thoughtful, gracious and well written words. You, as always, continue to be my community and the people who keep me sane.

Randy McRoberts

Thank you for the clear statement and for the excellent example you set for all of us.

I'm a newcomer to the emergent conversation, though an oldtimer in all other respects, even older than Brian McLaren (wow!). Even a newcomer can easily see where many of the misunderstandings come from. One basic misunderstanding is that post-modernity (the cultural era) is often confused with post-modernism (the philosophy). We are all becoming post-moderns, some kicking and screeming more than others. We can't help it. Few of us, however, will accept post-modernism (the philosophy) en toto. Until they understand the difference between these two concepts, detractors will continue to spout nonsense. Do they refuse to understand, or have they just been slow to pick it up?

Anyway, thanks. You are helping me grow in Christ.

Aaron Shafovaloff

Here are some questions I have:

- What role do you think repentance and final judgment have in the proclamation of the gospel?

- When Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other", did he imply that those who don't love Christ really hate him?

- Do you publicly affirm penal substitionary atonement? Did Jesus take the punishment we deserve?

- Would it be correct to say that the gospel helps people escape the hate of God as described in Psalm 5:5, 7:11, 11:5?

- Do you publicly affirm eternal punishment / torment / hell?

- Do you publicly acknowledge that God has perfect definite foreknowledge?

- What is your stance on the following Brian McLaren quote?

"I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts." —A Generous Orthodoxy

- Paul says that "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." What type of faith is necessary for this work of love? What does justification have to do with it?

- What type of authority/position do elders have over their people?

- If a Muslim rejects the deity of Christ, can he still be saved?

Deborah Dombrowski

Unfortunately, this response to criticism doesn't do much to heal the damage that has been done by you who have made comments and endorsed writings that are a denial of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Only God knows how many people have been misled away from the true gospel because of what you have done. You speak out of both sides of your mouth -professing Jesus Christ on one side and denying Him on the other. Teaching yoga workshops, endorsing the books of New Age authors such as Alan Jones, making comments about Christianity and Islam having common ground and your general promotion of mysticism i.e. contemplative prayer have done damage that a statement like the one you have just posted will do absolutely no good at all but will further deceive people.

liz rios

This is well said. Thankfully. Unfortunately, people like Ms. Dombrowski support a dichotomized view of the world which for so long has cast Christians in a light where most don't think we "think" deeply about anything except the cross of Christ. I applaud your courage. I wish you well.

Liz Rios

Dan-D from Canada

Liz - While I understand your point and think you make an excellent one, you may come across a little judgemental in your language ("people like Ms. Dombrowski..."). May I recommend being slightly more careful with what you say? I think we all want to respond to critics with grace and care - just a friendly suggestion.

Re: Generous Orthodoxy quote - an excellent response is by McLaren himself. Check out the following link - http://www.anewkindofchristian.com/archives/000394.html. I hope it's helpful.

Re: Deborah Dombrowski's comment - I think that the above Response should accurately represent the side of emergent that you yourself admit professes Jesus as savior - but I don't see the other side in it, the side that you suggest denys him. Would you or anyone else be able to support that claim with an example of where one of the above Responders has done so? (and please, please, PLEASE take what they write in context. It's only fair.)

From the Great White North,


wonderful response guys. your acceptance, welcomeness, and security in the criticisms and critiques is honorable and generous. peace and blessings.


I just want to say thank you for this statement. I am continually amazed at how you all respond with such grace, love, and humility towards all, especially those who disagree with you! Thank you for being such an example of Christ.

Wes Roberts

Gentlemen and brothers (some of you I know personally...some I know from your writings)...I, for one, could not be more thankful for this statement so grace-filled expressed. In fact, I'm taking it to an important gathering in the mountains tomorrow. 'Tis a sacred privilege to call you friends and to be journeying with you...even at the wild olde age of 63. Hope is what I experience from this splendid gathering of your minds and hearts so soulfully expressed. God is blessed...and so are most of the rest of us. May you know our Triune God's blessings for your courage and creative vision.

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