Saturday, February 05, 2005

Guest poster Mark Leveson on Emerging Church!
One thing that strikes me about the emerging church movement (and this isn't especially original) is that it often comes across as essentially a movement of protest - what it's about is defined over and against what the traditional church(es) are about, particularly as far as how it relates to post-modernity is concerned. This is interesting when compared with other movements in the church in the past. Many of these also either started off in the same way or by their very existence contained strong elements of protest against the ecclesial status quo. The Reformation is a classic case in point. But what is interesting, especially compared with one of the most recent of such movements, the charismatic movement in its various forms of the '60s - '80s, is to see one thing that the emerging church movement seems to lack at this point in time - a DISD. What's a DISD? A Distinctive Internal Spiritual Dynamic.

The charismatic movement for many was about protest - against the perceived formality and lack of "life" in many churches etc. And for many people who "grew up evangelical" to become charismatic was a form of protest, even rebellion, against the formal Christianity of their parents generation, while remaining true to basic Christian convictions. In many ways you could probably argue that the emerging church movement performs a similar function. The difference though is that the charismatic movement had a DISD - the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact it was that experience which defined the movement rather than the protest that it implied. The same is true of the evangelical movement starting in the eighteenth-century, with the dynamic of assurance of salvation, and even of the Reformation with justificatin by faith (for Luther at least far more than just a doctrine). So the question is, does emerging church have a DISD? Does it need one? Perhaps it's still a bit early to say?

(Mark is Pete's brother, and pastors a church in Kent)

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