“I get that this whole thing — emergent vs. emerging — is a meme being repeated by some people who mean well and others who, well, mean less well. But those people are making a huge mistake, methinks, because they are perpetuating the very modern mistake of separation and fragmentation. This hyper-defining is no different from the early Methodists saying, “We’re not Anglican,” and the Anglicans saying, “You’re damn right you’re not!” But what’s interesting to me is how often I’ve lately heard Anglicans say, “We never should have let John Welsey go; that was a real mistake,” and Methodists say, “Too bad we couldn’t have stayed under the umbrella of Anglicanism, because I think we’d be better for it.”
Note well, O Definers, you may define me “out” of emerging or evangelical or orthodoxy, but beware, it’ll be you next. Drawing lines and defending borders never ends well for the line-drawers because before you know it, someone has drawn a line right behind your heels and, guess what, you’re suddenly on the other side of the line with me. Line-drawing is yet another form of infinite regression.”
I think it would be a cheap shot to say that Tony is claiming that distinctions and definitions are inherently modern. He uses the word “hyper-defining.” I’m sure he would agree that some distinctions are helpful, such as – say – healthy food and unhealthy food.
For myself, I have decided that this distinction is useful. Among other reasons, the distinction helps to differentiate the formal organization Emergent from the wider emerging/missional church conversation of which it is a part. It also seems to be increasingly accepted nomenclature within the conversation.