Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Emergent and Pentecostalism?

At the end of our conference "God for People Who Hate Church" I asked Tony Jones (our final speaker) this question, "How can the Emergent conversation connect better with those from Pentecostal traditions?" I asked this question because I know other Emergent leaning Pentecostals, and they have had some struggle feeling as thought the really fit, or were welcome in the Emergent conversation.

Why might this be? Is there something inate to the conversation as it began which makes Pentecostals feel unwelcome? or is the other way around? Is there something inate to Pentecostalism which makes the Emergent discussion difficult for them to be a part of? Perhaps it is simply that the discussion has not reached deep enough to find enough Pentecostal ears.

Personally, I feel that I am navigating these relational waters fine, but there are others who are struggling. What do you think, and what is it you observe.

For Tony's answer to this question check out the podcast of his message, and jump ahead to the end of the message. There you find my question, and his answer. Does the answer hit home? Does it speak deeply enough for you to become an answer?

On my personal catharsis blog I question who I am on the basis of this strange but growing alliance.


Lily said...

Phil - I have to say I am really enjoying the podcasts. Thanks for making them available.

So this hits home for me. It's the one area where I have been uncertain of my place in the emerging church. Coming out of the same pentecostal tradition as you were a part of, I was pleased as punch to hear this subject addressed in an *emerging* context. I have not run into that before.

I'm not sure how I feel about Tony's answer. I think he's right, for sure, about listening, and about *cement* or absolutes.

I find myself wondering how we can retain the charismatic gifts with enough integrity that they are not swept under the rug in the emerging church. This is something I would like to see, although I'm not sure how to go about it.

That's a very good question. Thanks for bringing it up.

carl said...

I think what makes for a possible division between the emergent and the pentecostal is their culture. Pentecostals usually create their own christian subculture while emergents usually embrace discerningly what is good in the different cultures of the world.

From my own observation in meeting people and reading their material, it seems that a good portion of the emergent community are burnt out pentecostals or atleast burnt by pentecostals. Even still I sense pentecostal overtones within the emergent conversation. I notice the working of the Holy Spirit in renewing the mind within these conversations. What I mean by renewing of the mind is getting rid of prejudice, presumption and any other falsehood that all christians have, not just pentecostals.

Pastor Phil said...


Your observations are common to most people who have been part of Pentecostal/Charismatic traditions. Tony's answer is helpful, buit seems to fall short of identifying something which is at a core value of Pentecostal theology - or experience - or culture - or something, which most of us can not put our finger on.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Carl,

I talked wiht Tony yesterday, and we discussed the issue briefly again. I made the comment that the 9am to 10am part of our Sunday service was a place where Emergent and Pentecostal met (and yet it was without getting into tongues, laying on of hands, or prophetic release). He made the comment that this part of the service was different for some of the people there - Karen Ward, and Beth - and he insinuated himself as well.

Now I felt the service was really beautiful, wildly fun, somewhat tribal, and liberating - especially with everyone actually making it happen by being a part of it.

Here is an interesting thought: Emergent expects the Charismatic traditions to break their former idols by identifying with the orthodox traditions of icons, and thus there has been a pursuit of "Vintage Faith." Pentecostals are traditionally iconoclasts. Yet, there has not been much of a pursuit of the mystical through less ritualized means, as is part of the Pentecostal tradition through the Emergent experience. This is perhaps a place where the tow sides need to meet in the middle, and I think that our Sunday morning worship segment helped make those worlds kiss.

Makeesha said...

it's tough, I feel that tension as well - - grew up "word of faith" assemblies of God-ish (mostly non denom.)

and I've led in foursquare, worshiped in vineyard and led in "victory churches" (newish organization that is word of faith and charismatic)

I don't feel that the "charismatic" part of me really fits in emergent but because I feel everything else does, I sort of ignore it...BUT, I'm uncomfortable with how "light" on the holy Spirit emergent is.

Knowing the faith backgrounds of the heavies in emergent, it makes sense.

Makeesha said...

oh and by the way, I really liked jones' response..not just about the charismatic/pentacostal issue but about "idols" in general

carl said...

It was a beautiful service this past sunday! I must admit I was a little apprehensive before the service but God blew me away.

to add to the conversation, I also find that a lot of what the emergent voices are saying is prophetic. So perhaps even if some do not consider themselves pentecostal they have and continue to work out in certain spiritual gifts.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Makeesha,

Yes, you describe the tension well, but that is probably because we see "Holy Spirit" through modern Pentecostal eyes to some degree, and not through ancient mystical eyes. Yet, there is more to it that that simple observance.

Tony's answer was great in respect to the idols.

Pastor Phil said...


I was also blown away by the beautiful expression of grace and creativity. It was like a dream service for me.