Back in January on the blog Gathering in Light, Wess Daniels offered a typology of emergent churches, and he names his four categories Deconstructionist, Pre-Modern/Augustinian, Emerging Peace Church, and Foundationalist. Curiously, I find myself most in sympathy with the Emerging Peace Church model of emerging church, which Wess describes as follows:
This model of the emerging church stresses the non-conformist tendencies of Jesus, and thus the church should follow in his footsteps through non-violence, love of enemy and caring for the poor. This one may be closest to a kind of new monasticism that has so often been written about in recent times. While there are people from the various peace churches involved in this type of church, there are also people from a variety of traditions who are seeking to contextualize the Gospel within our culture. This group does not accept any one style of culture as being good, thus their non-conformist attitude is directed at modernity and postmodernity alike. They see Jesus (and his incarnation) as their primary model for engaging culture….
As a post-Christian Transcendentalist, my Christology would doubtless differ substantially (!) from those who might claim identity with this model, and doubtless many of them would be less than thrilled by having a post-Christian identify with them. But Wess’s description of this type this comes pretty close to summing up why I consider myself in sympathy with the emergent movement.
Another caveat:– While Wess’s typology is useful for understanding the emergent movement, he leaves out important parts of the movement — e.g., emergent Jews. Along these lines, the real task for emergent Unitarian Universalists is not to fit oursevles into a pre-exiting category, but to articulate what, exactly, we find so frustrating with the existing (20th C., late modern, unreflective, methodologically conservative, smug) practice and theology of Unitarian Universalism as we find it in most of our congregations — to be true to our own unique community of memory, while moving forward methodologically.