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Dan-D from Canada

Good luck, tony. Any chance of changing emergent's name so as to not confuse it with the Emerging Church movement as a whole?

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

From the sound of what you envision your role to be as National Coordinator (despite the fact that people are still calling you Director) all the fuss about hierarchy and institutionalization has been premature. Sounds exciting. Once again, we trust you!

Daniel Greeson

sounds great. God bless you in this new work!

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Habemus Papam! Congrats on the first papacy of Emergent. The Emergent Pope, eh? I thought emergent was anti-heirarchy and all that? Well, i guess this is just another step towards emergent being more and more like the Catholic Church, but just won't admit it.

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Brian Baute

Billy Jo-

At least be brave enough to own your comments and use a real name and functioning email address. Let's make this a place for vigorous discussion of varying viewpoints, not a place for emergent's detractors to leave anonymous hit-and-run attacks.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Well said, Brian. I think Emergent NEEDS its critics. However, this can only be beneficial if we are willing to move past cheap shots and not-so-veiled sarcasm.

Billy Jo, I think you probably have some good stuff to share here. Are you willing to do it in a way that we can all benefit from? There is room at the table for you.

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Jamie & Brian,

Thankyou for makeing "room at the table" for me. What? I am not taking cheap shots! I have an email address, it bjjs@gmail.com. It must not be working for you Brian.

Honestly, what is the big deal? I make a simple comment and I get people all over my a@#. Why? It may show there is a little sensitivity here. Why? What's the matter. Can't a guy express his observations without getting bashed out of the forum? It is you who want honest dialgue then I suggest being a little less judegmental and a little more accepting. Dialogue starts at home, not in the neighbors yard.

So, who is hitting and running? I am still here. And furthermore, I am not attacking. I happen to be pro-emergent. You have misread, or should I say misjudged, me.

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Dan-D from Canada


Your question is large and complicated, and different disciplines have different answers. Biblical studies types will say one thing, while social scientists like myself will say another. However, I like many others here are incredibly busy and tend to come to emergent to discuss... well, emergent. You have a valid question and if you would like it answered or talked about the best place for you is probably not here, as it is off-topic from the current posts. If you want to chat with someone, my email is available if you click on my name. I usually answer within a week or so. Please don't interpret silence as uncaring.

Dan-D from Canada

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Billy, sorry if I have misjudged you. If my comment failed to have the gentle tone I intended, then I apologize. I simply felt the tone of your "papacy" comment was somewhat harsh. I was just inviting you to qualify your statements. The "cheap shots and not-so-veiled sarcasm" remark was a general statement to critiques, not directly at you. My "room at the table" comment was not meant to communicate that you are an outside being invited it, but rather that I was not trying to alienated by my reply. Ah, the toneless world of the internet. Thanks for your grace.

Dave Sheldon

Who needs titles it is all about testimonies (Thank you Tony Campolo) and your testimony is great! My thoughts, ideas, and prayers are with you. So I raise my glass of Guinness to you all! Enjoy!

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim


What are you talking about?

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

David Malouf


Are you serious in that you can't figure out how you're coming across in your tone? A post full of sarcasm and convictions-of-hypocrisy . . . why would people not consider you an enemy?

As impossible as it seems (even to me), people DO make dialogue with those who disagree. Your post makes no attempt at dialogue - just name-calling. Brilliant. Cognitive disonnance predicts (all but forces!) the reaction you received.

And then to respond with a SELF-convicting statement about "sensitive" people! Junior high logic.

And, no, this is not a response unto dialogue. It's a request for dialogue.

And if THIS is jumping all over you, then please don't respond!!


Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Again, I've reread my posts and I fail to see any sarcasam, name-calling, junior high logic, or convictions of hypocrisy. Please point this out if I have done so but I a) have not intended to do so and b) don't think I have.

So far, I am the only one to offer any originial thought on this thread and no attempt at dialogue on the part of others has happened. Only criticism of "how I come accross." My opening attempt at dialogue still stands: Isn't this just the first step towards and Emergent Papacy? Get over all the other crap and please dialogue with me about this.


Billy Jo Jimboob Slim

Furthermore, emergent is the best organization in the world when it comes to talking about "conversation" and "dialogue." but when it comes to actually doing it, I'm not impressed. I haven't seen much. I am trying to dialogue here but I get people telling me I have "junior high logic" and that I am a sarcastic. Again, where is the dialogue. My question stands. Let's discuss emergent folk...

Sam Pequot

It seems as Emergent shouldn't really consider itself a theology club, or a church. All Emergent is, it seems to me, is group of people who bandy about different (but not really all that differnet or original) ecclesiological (but really only liturgical) ideas. Is this fair to say? What say you?


Jamie Arpin-Ricci

BJJS. Fair enough. Let me try to respond as best I can to your original comment. No, I do not see any pattern, tendency, etc. withint Emergent towards a papal model of leadership. If you mean this analogy in its fullness, then the answer is quite obvious. Papal authority is presupposed on a positional authority given by Christ Himself, then continued through the apostolic succession. This kind of authority is abosulte, requiring very highly levels of submission.

How could Emergent be considered even closely resembling this? Tony will be a NATIONAL COORDINATOR, which means he will be a glorified manager within one nation. I think his role is need, in part so that he can serve the conversation so that it will NEVER need that kind of authority.

Now, if your comment is questioning whether Emergent is simply leaning towards a more hierarchal, centralized leadership structure, I think there is more there to explore.

Personally, from what I have seen, read and discussed, Emergent-US is trying very hard not to move in this direction. I do think that they need to find a greater means of innovation for creating diversity in their leadership systems- without simply silencing all the white males (a common mistake).

I know this is a brief answer, but I hope it gets the discussion moving in the direction you were hoping. Again, I apologize for the quick dismissal and criticism I sent your way. I accept that your intentions were not poor. I would just caution you to the toneless nature of the net which truly did make your comments appear harsh to many of us.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Sam. I think that, in some cases, your assessment is not that far off the mark. However, I think there are several people/groups for whom it goes much deeper. For some of us, this dialogue makes direct impact on our daily lives and ministries. Living in an inner city community, I can tell that it is far from theological abstraction for me.

As to the orginality of emergent, I think people get caught up on this one. I think that some people are discovering ancient truths that they think are new for lack of knowledge, but mostly I think what is "new" or emergening is, not the theology, but the nature of the community exploring it.

Again, I think your question serves as a good reminder not to get lost in the novelty of the (so called) new, but rather to pursue God more fully.

Andrew S.

I agree with you. It is all aboout liturgy, and not really theology.

And Jaime, you are right. It is not new at all. In fact, it is just pre-protestant theology re-discovered within a protestant context.

BJJS, what you said earlier now makes sense to me. you wrote something like "emergent being more and more like the Catholic Church, but just won't admit it." In part that is true, but not totally. Emergent will never be Catholic, it will just become a new denomination like all the others. It is interesting to see emergent go through this phase like all the other denominations. They all start out very idealistic wanting to "return to the sources" and practice "original Christianity" of antiquity. But they soon discover that we no longer live in 1st century Palestine. We live in 21st century global society. Emergent, like all the other denominations when they started, wants to stay small, intimate, communal and authentic. But as they grow they realize that some structure is needed if they want to keep the wheels from falling off. They realize they need someone to start writing checks, coordinatinng volunteers, and maintaing some form of administration. It is like watching a small child go through puberty.

BJJS, I see now where you are coming from in your understanding of Emergent as Catholic. Althought it will never be Catholic, it will be the closest denomination to Catholicism (theologically identical, but liturgically contextual and unique).

- Andrew

todd thomas

howdy gang... defining emergent is pretty tough. i think it moves in far more than just a "methodological" or "liturgical" stream. it is attepting to develop a new hermeneutic (pardon the spelling), a way to read the bible and understand the bible thru different lenses than those of the enlightenment. we, mostly, have found faith thru those lenses and found it missing something... or we haven't found it at all. yes, the forms and methods catch our attention, but they bely a rich depth of thot and reflection.

yes, there is much ancient (or "catholic") happening in the emergent search for forms. those practices are being experienced and evaluated for their ability to incarnate spirituality and the gospel in the language and worldview of more post-enlightenment thinkers and doers. why? because post- also has a bit of the pre- mixed in with it. post-modern thinking on truth and beauty rings with many similarities to pre-modern ideas of truth and truth/beauty.

"Habemus Papam! Congrats on the first papacy
of Emergent. The Emergent Pope, eh? I thought
emergent was anti-heirarchy and all that?"

1. "first papacy of emergent" hint of name calling
2. "The Emergent Pope" actual name calling
3. "I thought emergent was..." a not so subtle
implication of hypocrisy, double-dealing

just for fun, and because we were asked to point out any problems, I thot i'd point out some easily identified bad forms in a particular post... "Again, I've reread my posts and I fail to see any sarcasam, name-calling, junior high logic, or convictions of hypocrisy. Please point this out if I have done so but I a) have not intended to do so and b) don't think I have."

"Well, i guess this is just another step
towards emergent being more and more like
the Catholic Church, but just won't admit it."

1. "more like the Catholic Church" i suppose
this is an accusation of sorts... does it
imply that such a move is bad?
2. "but just won't admit it" that's a straight
forward accusation of double-dealing or
just plain old stupidity on ec's part.

basically, what we have is a message completely devoid of substance. how do you respond to veiled accusations and bad humor? you don't... responses validate. i am in fact not doing what we all should have done... ignored it. why? to be mean? no, but help us all learn to better communicate, to try harder to speak well and with the love of Christ! maybe we will.

peace, todd

Billy Jo Jimbob Slim

Well Todd, I must say that was a quite the post. But it doesnt really teach us anything. Perhaps you could say more about it. If calling some one a Pope,or a movement catholic is name calling, is this a bad thing? The pope is good, no great, man. And Catholicism is a wonderful tradition. Yes it is name calling, but to be more appropriate it is "complementing." You seem to use the term "namecalling" in a negative way. I think being catholic and papal is great. It is a compliment.

Perhaps you emergent folks have taken so much flac from fundamental protestant evangelical dutch reformed calvinists that you assume all criticism is coming from that angle. I am not one of those. I try to start a conversation complimenting the move towards catholic (big and small "c") (ancient in your words) traditions and all i get it rejection and silence from people who say they are interested in real dialogue, but are really only interested in hearing people affirm them warmly with praise emergent by placing it up on some pedstal. How do you expect to grow and find God's truth if you can't take criticism. I will be here if you decide to come out and disucuss...


todd thomas

Hey Andrew...

I was looking back over some recent posts and saw this... "And Jaime, you are right. It is not new at all. In fact, it is just pre-protestant theology re-discovered within a protestant context."

Just out of curiosity, it would be interesting to know what our backgrounds are in responding to ec... like what of the books we've read, which guys and gals we've spoken to, etc. I say that because having read so much MacClaren and Pagitt and those guys that it is difficult to put them into a simple "pre-protestant" box. With every pre-modern practice they may advocate, they also respond with very post-modern values and ideas and many non-pre-modern forms.

Start with Luther and his Reformation: Luther's rejection of the pre-modern system of truth (being what "the church authority" decides it to be) because of corruption within the church institution is a good thing, but fully buying into an individualistic, scientific method of rationalizing truth completely apart from a community's interaction with scripture and God is not. So ec doesn't just try to pretend that the Reform. didn't happen or that we need to regraft with the Cathloic branch... but, what did we NOT need to toss out with the naughty priests? How has the reformed way of reading scripture limited our interaction with and understnding of the scripture?

So the idea that ec is just another "restoration" movement is too limited. I grew up and received faith within a restoration movement. Such fellowships never foster the diversity and openness to questions and differing belief that ec does in fact foster.

Personally I think there is little reason to fear any coordination of ec stuff (conventions, books, websites, conversations, etc.) becoming an enforcement of conformity among the ranks of a new denomination. I say that from experience at the convention this year... three of us guys shared a room at the hotel and we were all from different denom's. Then the diversity of thot from both the speakers and participants was staggering. And never was the idea floated around that we needed to denominate ourselves from or to anything at all.

If, and I mean IF, there is a good way to grab on and hold on to the ec conversation, a good way of defining or labeling the conversation, it for sure isn't the simplest way or a reductionistic way. Yes, "there's nothing new under the sun," but ec is breathing some newness into lives and spiritual journeys in various ways on various paths. For that, I am truly blessed and grateful.

Peace all the way around, Todd

David Malouf

I do like what Todd has said - I think I would concur. Negative name-calling only works when both parties understand that the "name" is negative. In this case, "I thought emergent was anti-heirarchy and all that?" combined with calling someone the Pope is quite clearly meant to be a shot. Just like it would be if I called you a "moron" for not seeing it. Telling someone they are the opposite of what they desire to be is not dialogue, it's name-calling. Perhaps asking questions without the name-calling would instigate further dialogue.

And how has the posting on your communication style not been a dialogue? Because it didn't address what you wanted it to? I assume that dialogues don't follow strict lines. Maybe it's more about my (our) definition of "dialouge" . . .

David Malouf

So what would Emergent look like if it had more "dialogue?"

Does it have to be with the public figures or can it be with *anyone* interested in conversing?

What makes a dialogue "Emergent?"

It has been said that Emergent is pre/post ____, re-styled, re-made _______. My converstations have led me to believe Emergent is more broad than this. I have seen a LOT of somewhat-Pelagian/ somewhat-universalism that leads to social action - a newer theology that does not conform to those who camp themselves under "Social Gospel" but has much of the same activity, while still wanting to love Jesus (in set of connections I haven't been able to deliniate as of yet).

Does it ALL have to be TOTALLY NEW? Can it not be a continuation and expansion (an evolution, if you're okay with that word) of what has been going on in the Church worldwide?

Last thought: I think the idea of Tony's post is to actually be a leader FOR those connected with Emergent. To help provide the most fertile spaces for people to grow and/or express. A social coordinator of theological thought and Christian expression (as broad as I can conceive of those phrases).



I was talking today to a friend who is unfamiliar with Emergent. When I suggested that he come here and read a little, he asked, "Is it the NEW church?" Hmmm, I thought. Good question. Here's another one: when is the last time in Christendom there was something universally (or almost universally) called, "the new church"? And what would characterize such a distinction?
I love the term paradgm shift. Even years ago reading it in reference to decidedly non Christian notions, I thought, that's what the church needs. And then, does a paradigm shift create a new thing, or a revised thing?

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Cindy. I share your appreciation for the phrase "paradigm shift". While I know the word "new" is bandied around without enough qualification, I think it can give be a useful word too, GIVEN it is used properly, which seems unlikely in this context (generally speaking). The insight was well made. Thanks!

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