Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The New Christians, Tony Jones

If you want what I think is the best history of the contemporary emergent movement, get The New Christians: dispatches from the emergent frontier, by Emergent Village coordinator Tony Jones. Captures the roots in 70s and 80s youth ministry, the controversies, and nuances well the differences among all those involved in the conversation, those who "get it." and have taken the red pill. Go to www.tonyj.net or for more go also to the blog http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2008/02/tony-jones-the.html. Or just google the book and read...I think it is better than the anthology I had previously mentioned, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, probably because it is coming from a single voice. It isn't all comprehensive, for that same reason, not like the classic Emerging Churches by Gibbs and Ryan, but Jones has a wonderful apologia and a history of why it is important and why it is emerging now. It is also focused in on "emergent" and not "organic" (for that see my other new post on my latest read also of the Viola/Barna book Pagan Christianity). So it is really not as radical as many of its critics on the "right" would think. If you want to get an update and presentation on the emergent movement, this is the place to start now. I think there is a piece missing perhaps analytically in the influence by people who aren't all that connected to emergent now--transformational church folks like Easum and Bandy who prepared much of the way with the emphasis on permission-giving teams and restructuring church and opening up the Spirit, who made a receptivity I think for the younger emergents to find fertile soil for their seeds. But maybe because that is just how my own trajectory happened: reading Easum, Bandy, Sweet in seminary, along with Stringfellow and Bonhoeffer, and then finding fertile soil in my own "ecclesia" sense for the Barnas, the Coles, the Claibornes styles of God communities in the Jesus image.