Emergent Christianity

Emergent Christianity is a fascinating movement occurring in Christendom.  The name grows out of the belief that a re-focusing on the core of the Christian message “emerging.”  This emergence is not marked by sectarian or doctrinal divides but a by a deep agreement on what matters most.  Swedenborgian thought clearly saw this as key to Christianity as well as well as other denominations: “The Lord’s Church is not in this particular location or in that, but, it resides wherever people lead lives in keeping with the commandments.”

Listed below are several key components.  This movement is well attuned to New Church theology.

Less Appeal of Biblical Literalism:  This trend should be regarded as extremely favorable to the New Church.   Individuals moving from a literal-factual orientation to the Bible to an orientation that is far more comfortable seeing the Bible as historical-metaphorical. [1]

a.     In 1963, 65% of Americans reported believing in the literal letter of the Bible

b.     By 2001, only 21% reported the same.

Focus on here-and-now of service vs. then-and-there of salvation: More Christians appear to be focused on the here-and-now of transformative Christianity that calls them to a more hands-on relationship with God and others vs. an individual approach focused solely on Sunday church attendance and personal salvation.

a.     Don’t want body of belief but a way of salvation/ healing.   Not about set of propositions about ultimate reality but showing a way, a life that fixes the problems that they see.  Therefore about “living out” Christianity.

Christ as Model vs. Christ as Salvation:

a.     Christ as teacher, example, master and we are to be disciples.  Therefore imitate the example of Christ.

Increased interest in Spiritual Disciplines and Sacraments: In NCL this trend while anecdotal is very interesting.

a.     Large Interest in the broader culture around spiritual disciplines Yoga, Meditation, the study of Buddhism, books like “The Secret” etc…

b.     Clear interest in the sacraments of Marriage and Baptism

c.      Clear interest in the spiritual disciplines of Meditation and the 12 Steps as measured by our two most successful small group programs

As these concepts gain mainstream acceptance, it should be a fun decade ahead!

[1] Borg, Marcus J. “The Heart of Christianity”, Harpers, 2003

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