Friday, May 06, 2005

Is the Emerging Church Bourgeois?

Bourgeois: a member of the middle class whose interest is to preserve the status quo.

I'm quickly becoming a fan of Jamie Smith. I referred to his blog in my last post and now I'm referencing him again. I came across an article that he wrote entitled: “The Economics of the Emerging Church" This is a great read and he raises some wonderful questions about the Emerging Church movement. I know there has been discussion about the lack of diversity within the movement and this article definitely speaks to the socio-economic factor that plays into it.

In his article Jamie asks the question: "How bourgeois is the emerging church?”

click here to read the entire article


postmodernegro said...


It would be great to see Smith do an "Economics of Radical Orthodoxy".

I actually agree with his assessment in regards the demographics of emergent thus far. But I would suggest that it has to start somewhere. I do see concerted effort, on my end, to broaden the discussion. I'm here. Black and working class.

But while the demographic of Emergent is what it is I don't see kids in the hood reading John Milbank.

holla back,


postmodernegro said...


don't get me wrong. I think we need more discussion like this. i am just wary when people being to speak for other people.


St.Phransus said...

The fact that you are a part of the discussion is a testament that emergent can be a movement for a diverse range of folks.

as someone who grew up and continues to live in an ethnically and socio-economically diverse neighborhood this is an area of extreme interest and importance to me. no easy answers here- but the cool thing about the emergent movement is that it is rooted in a missional ecclesiology. so i think the form it takes depends on the culture and context it comes out of.

thanks for the conversation.

St.Phransus said...


i don't see many people period reading john milbank.

emergent might have a better ecclesiological understanding of itself if more folks who are on board w/the movement read the likes of milbank, hauerwas, yoder, etc...

i'm loving the conversations brother.


John said...

I can't get a handle on exactly what is the emergent church. As far as I can tell, it's either a particular flavor of pop Christianity, or a blending of evangelicism and mysticism.

postmodernegro said...


basically what I get out of it is a growing conversation/dialogue/beginning movement of Christians across traditions within Christianity asking questions about the role of the church in these does it look for the church to be faithful to the gospel in our times. This is a gross over-generalization of it all. I guess I could do better by telling how I got involved in this conversation. Phransus has some good links to emergent type blogs and websites.


postmodernegro said...


You are correct. Not many people have read a Hauerwas, Yoder, or a Milbank. I have a funny story how i ran into this niche myself. Back in 1996 or 97 I was rummaging around a pawn shop that had a used book store in the back. At the time I was steeped in Word-of-Faith/Charismatic theology. I stumbled upon David Bosh's Magnum Opus "Transforming Mission" where he surveys what he called the six paradigms by which the Church understood its mission. At the time I was a history major at a small community the history caught my attention. At that time I didn't know about Lesslie Newbigin the language of being "missional". I just thought Bosch did an excellent job in breaking down the Church's self-understanding over the past 2,000 years. I shelved it until I started reading Jesus historians (e.g. Crossan, Wright, Horsley, etc.). Their research revealing the subversive nature of the gospel in the first century sent me looking for theologians and pastors who understood the gospel that way. I was re-acquainted with liberation theology and black liberation theology in a more appreciative way. Then I ran into Krister Stendahl whose writings show up in Yoder. After Yoder I was looking for contemporary theologians that were trying to grapple with this "different" Jesus. I found Hauerwas, Milbank, Cavanaugh, James McClendon, and many others of that ilk. Then I further gained a deeper appreciation for my own black Christian tradition and its many revolutionary voices going all the way back to slavery up until the Civil Rights movement until the present. Its been quite a journey. And this is the extreme truncated version of it all. That is one of the main things that has attracted me to this emergent conversation. There is a re-kindling of interest in the traditions of the past...and a subversive appropriation of them in the present...not for subversive-sakes, but as a way to discern how we can be a faithful Church in the present.


St.Phransus said...

We have to meet face to face at some point and hang out. Email me your IM if you use instant messenger.

That's an awesome story!

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