Changing From Within….

Let me start this post by bringing back some words from a recent post about emergents.

The emergent movement is not a new denomination threatening to take over but instead a new way to thinking. Here is how Wikipedia describes that concept:

Emergents can be described as Protestant, post-Protestant, Catholic, evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal, post-liberal, conservative, post conservative, anabaptist, adventist, reformed, charismatic, neocharismatic, and post-charismatic…. Some attend local independent churches or house churches while others worship in traditional Christian denominations. Proponents believe the movement transcends such “modernist” labels of “conservative” and “liberal,” calling the movement a “conversation” to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature…

One of the most interesting parts of the emergent movement it that it is not another flavor of Christianity but instead is for the most part an attempt to change from within.  Emergents are currently inside many of today’s Christian denominations. They are trying to gently nudge their brothers and sisters away from their current trends of exclusion back into one of inclusion.

I can personally attest that this approach of changing from within is not going to be easy!  I joined a small Lutheran Congregation about ten years ago. I was a regular participant in weekly Bible study. I always tried to get the point across that there are many ways to view most bible verses. I asked some pretty difficult questions. When a new minister was brought into our congregation who was obviously a very conservative exclusionist things changed. When I questioned some of his biblical interpretations he became quite uncomfortable. Another person in those studies asked questions as frequently as I did and that often brought others to join in. Within a year or so both of us were told that since we did not agree with some Lutheran tenets, primarily Sola Scriputra,  he was starting the process to exclude us from membership. My questions and nudges were just too threatening to his ministry.  Instead of going through a formal inquisition I chose to give up my attempts of changing from within and leave voluntarily. That meant leaving friends there as most seldom continue friendships outside their particular faith bubble.

I can understand the logic behind my exclusion from that small congregation. It is very difficult for any clergyman to align to something not authorized through a strict denominational hierarchy.  The bosses just don’t like it when their authority is questioned. It is very hard for the local clergyman to take a stand on things not authorized by his superiors.

Martin Luther had no plan to upset Christianity as he ended up doing.  He was simply trying to change the Roman Catholic church from within. In some way you could have been one of the first emergents. But  since he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he might not have all the answers. He started the practice of exclusion instead. Trying to change within is not an easy matter.

Will the emergent movement have much success within many present denominations? I personally kind of doubt it but I am hoping that at least a few will actually open their hearts and listen to the message of inclusion. It is a hard to admit that you just might be wrong about anything in life let alone things in the spiritually sphere. As with the Pharaoh, hearts are just too hardened now to accept any brutal truths and it is a brutal truth to learn that you may be wrong about some of the things you base your spiritual existence on. Tragically some are just totally unwilling to accept that premise.

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