Emergent pope speaks at Lambeth

Photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg
© 2008 Episcopal Life Online

Brian McClaren spoke on behalf of emerging types at the Lambeth Conference a few days back, and apparently gave a shout out to COTA in Seattle, which is cool.

For those of us in the emerging know, Brian's message was by this point predictable, but it's spiriting none the less that it appeared at Lambeth (quoted from Episcopal Life Online):

"McLaren said the emerging culture "has been orphaned by religion -- religion has stopped answering its questions, it stopped making sense, it was very willing to withdraw into its shell and have the world fall apart." He said the culture has also been orphaned by science "that promised solution but ended up giving only more deadly weapons. And it turns out that many of yesterday's solutions caused today's terrifying problems." Members of this world have also been orphaned by technology, economic systems and consumerism and by "governments that continually promised them the world and continually deliver pitifully mediocre results."

He also gave what I think is a deserved shout out to Anglicanism from the emerging perspective:

"McLaren called on the bishops and others to recognize and use Anglicanism's characteristics and diversity to make disciples in the emerging world. "Some of the best teachers explaining the Gospel of the kingdom of God are Anglicans," he said...

He said movements within the Anglican Communion, such as the Church of England's Fresh Expressions effort and the Alpha Course, are "wonderful, creative" ways of bringing Christianity into that world.

In addition, "the fact that you are a global communion means that you are forced to realize that different cultures are dealing with different struggles -- there's no one-size-fits-all solution," he said. Acknowledging that those diverse contexts are the "source of some of the struggles in the communion," McLaren said they can be a "great asset if you realize that we're in different place, different contexts [and] we have different challenges."

Anglican liturgy, he said, "makes space for spiritual seekers in a way that a lot of mean-spirited Protestant preaching doesn't." The liturgy offers "beauty, mystery, intelligence, clarity," he added."

It'll be interesting to hear how Bishops are responding to his presentation. Olympia's Bishop, Greg Rickel, was enthusiastic, as was Bishop Alan. Those were pretty predictable though: they're bloggers. I'm more interested to hear how (or if) GAFCON and Global South types respond. I've got a sort of vague sense that "traditionalists" don't generally like the emerging church, but it doesn't seem to be a big enough stream yet internationally to really get people upset in one direction or another. It also doesn't seem that there's much participation in the emerging dialogue from south of the equator, which is of course where most Anglicans live. We market ourselves as a sort of third option, and you do see some generally constructive dialogue happening in emerging circles, even around the issue of sexuality. From here out it will be intriguing to see how much attention is given to the themes of the emerging dialogue in the global Anglican conversation. I've always viewed the 'emerging conversation' as almost a euphamism for 'what the youngsters are talking about', and it would make sense that young leaders would hammer out the solutions that will lead us forward--we're the ones who are going to have to live in the world we create, after all.


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