...a barely thematic journey through my tangentizing mental life...
How about a specific example?
One that comes readily to mind is the notion of 'theology hand-crafted in community' (a bit of a take off on something Doug Pagitt said). I mentioned this to someone and they reacted as if formulating theology was a heretical task, and that theology done in community would necessarily end in heresy--guess they've never heard of the great ecmenical councils. To put this tiny rant in perspective, I've been reading a couple 'anti-emergent' websites, and while I do indeed have problems with some beliefs held by some in ec, these folks were putting us all in the same basket--not really a fair thing. Now that I think of it, there are methods that I would consider incorrect (like forming a theology without ever consulting Scripture), but the fact that there are new questions, means that there must be new theology to answer those questons (like fertility treatments, end of life issues, cloning, nanobots, etc.).
By definition theology is an ongoing process. And every context needs a new theological reflection. But theology is also always done in community -- the community that we have with the saints who have gone on before us, the saints who are outside our immediate cultural context, and the saints with whom we live and work on a daily basis. Theology is a conversation.What some of these anti-emergent guys complain about is that the conversation itself is sometimes seen as "the point" -- period (dialectic theology -- remember Kant and the arch-enemy called neo-orthodoxy?) and that anyone who reaches any kind of conclusion is written off as rigid and out of touch -- slaves to a rationalistic system. And some people ARE into deconstructing everything and never wanting to stick their necks out far enough to reconstruct -- espcially if it means acknowledging the legitimacy of any thought that been done prior to NOW. "Emergent" thinking seems to be focused on the moment and discontinuity with the past (when speaking of theology). That's probably what they are reacting against.
Those who deconstruct without the courage to reconstruct are indeed cause for great concern. Those who insist that only current conversation is important are also cause for great concern. I guess what I'm reacting to is the tendency for these particular anti-emergents to continually lump everyone in ec in the same theological bucket, when the fact is that there really is no emergent theological bucket (this too is a cause for some concern, for in the end theology is our understanding of the core of our faith). The other thing that came to mind is the reaction of someone when I mentioned Pagitt's 'handcrafted theology' notion. This person said that we have no need for handcrafted theology because we have all the theology we need. This, frankly, causes me as much (if not more) concern than the people trapped in deconstruction, for they seem to think that theology is equal with Scripture. It is very important, but it is not Scripture.
There is always someone who gets my goat. I could spend all of my energy responding to them. But unless it is blood or fire I don't expend the energy that much these days. I'd rather focus on encouraging the people who are on the right track.