Guilt by association…

7 Jul

I’ve been thinking today after a conversation with a friend about guilt by association in teaching at a church. It happens when you quote a person or someone sees a book on your shelf. Someone in the congregation has read some material by this individual or heard someone on Christian radio call this person a heretic. And you quoted them. Therefore, you are guilty of believing everything that this person in the congregation believes about the person that you quoted. This is probably nothing more prevalent in younger churches than to be tagged with the term “emerging church.”

If you drink coffee you must be part of the emerging church.
If you have thick framed glasses you must be part of the emerging church.
If you talk about social justice you must be part of the emerging church.
If you talk about dialogue you must be part of the emerging church.
If you don’t think the Christians should “take back America for God” (if ever there was ever a case that this was true Jesus should have taken Israel back for God) you are part of the emerging church.
If you speak of church not being a building but a people then you are part of the emerging church.

Here is the problem, ten years ago “Emerging Church” meant something. Today it really means everything and nothing all at once. So is Ecclesia Stockton an emerging church? No.

We are Christological: We are truest to ourselves when we are centered around the Jesus Story
We Missional: We are the sent people of the sending God entering our culture as the hands and feet of Jesus as he did for his culture
We are Ecclesiological: Our community (church) is informed by orthodoxy (Jesus of scriptures) and orthopraxy (imitating his life).

To look more into the history of discussion of the Emerging Church I highly recommend either this video link, this audio link or this pdf. Mike Erre of Rock Harbor nails it on the head!!


4 Responses to “Guilt by association…”

  1. Tobie July 8, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    Love the new look of the blog!

  2. Sarah July 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    A friend and I were talking about that exact same thing yesterday. You have to be able to take what you can learn from people, what you agree with, what makes you think, and teachings that feed your soul, and leave what you don’t like, or agree with. People are very quick to cry “heretic” at the very moment they disagree with something a public Christian figure says, without trying to understand it, which I think is a huge part of the problem. Like in Velvet Elvis where Rob Bell is asking what would happen if Jesus had an earthly father named Larry. People were so quick to say that he was disagreeing with the validity of the bible, that they didn’t even continue to the part where he says “I don’t really believe that Jesus had a father named Larry”. I often wondered if I was reading the same book they were….

    You just have to be true to God. People are going to judge you, and label you as this or that, but it doesn’t matter. Our behavior as Christians has the potential to discredit the gospel I think more-so then quoting someone that a person doesn’t completely agree with. As long as people see that YOU are being true, and have a heart that is passionately seeking God, then people will “get it”. The world doesn’t judge us by our theology, the world judges us by our behavior. It’s usually fellow Christians that tend to be combative in nature that want to point out “heresy”. I say if you’re in line with the basics of the bible, then ignore it. I would like to see two people that could sit down with the bible and totally agree with each other about every single verse. Not going to happen.

  3. admin July 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm #


    Sarah-I’ve found that there are just certain names that you can’t use without someone getting upset. It seems like there are ideological battles in church’s and using people as props to represent one party usually cause us to paint that individual in a one sided way. I think Bell has done an incredible amount of good, maybe an unfortunate statement here and there, but much good for the kingdom.

    But that name as an influential public figure draws so much controversy I find it a pain to quote him because it gets someone riled up. I think I need to get rid of my thick framed black glasses…even though his are curved and mine are squared.

    When people ask who shapes me I usually respond N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Scot McKnight…and usually people who don’t think that they are orthodox have too much time on their hands…

  4. Sarah July 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    yup, black framed glasses, caring for the poor, doing your part to help end social injustices, and Starbucks= heretic. I’m glad you’re finally educating yourself about the do’s and don’t of being a pastor.

    I’ll make sure that’s what I write on the picket signs before I circle your service Sunday. You false teacher, you! 😉

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