Friday, March 04, 2005

Emerging Icons?

Hey, Holly is working on some art regarding the emerging church, and we are brainstorming for icons/visual metaphors for the emerging church. Do you have any ideas? I know this is a bit overly-simplistic, but looking for possible illustrations for the emerging church. Okay, go at it, ey?

1 comment:

Jon said...

Excellent question, Ryan.

I'm not an expert on the emerging church, although I've visited a local fledging church plant several times where I know the pastor is very into the Emergent idea. I have read a lot of websites, a lot of articles, and some Brian McLaren.

I think a key component of the icon would have to be a broken church. (Picture something like a simple childlike line drawing of church with cross and steeple, but it's broken in two pieces like an eggshell.)

The reason is that I think everyone involved in the conversation, deeply or lightly, knows that something is seriously amiss in contemporary Christianity.

The problem is that no one really knows what to do about it. Sweet and McLaren have found some very good answers that I think can work very well, and have proven themselves in some congregations.

Other churches are much less adventurous. They're frequently referred to as emerging churches or part of Emergent, but are affiliated with denominations with well-defined viewpoints or have written extremely conservative creeds. One famous one that comes to mind settles for nothing less than complete Biblical inerrancy, so I can't help but feeling that whatever it's doing is less an emergent new Christian expression than a repackaging of Fundamentalism, one more time, but with different bands and different coffeehouses than 30 years ago.

What is really needed, IMHO, is a movement from "religion" to mysticism. Religion -- whether intellectual or devotional, conservative or liberal, ultimately strives to keep a kind of homogenity. Whatever avenues there are for "spiritual growth" are to help one grow just so much, and hopefully conform with the predominate expression of that denomination or congregation.

I think McLaren and Sweet understand the mystical relationship of Christ and soul, and I see that in some emerging churches, opportunities for contemplative prayer, meditation, and other historic Christian spiritual disciplines are beginning to appear.

In his book, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Matthew Fox gives a very rich treatment of mysticism--the quest for the direct knowledge of God, including a dazzling vision of its potential for renewing the Church in passion, holiness and honesty.

So what's the center of the icon? A heart for some, maybe a sun or a cross for others, and for many, a question mark.