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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

 Warning the Emergent Church
Elisa Padilla

"When I was eighteen I decided to leave home and attend college in the United States. ...In evangelical circles, though most sectors held on to the traditional missionary message, a minority began to think, meet, write, and publish in another direction. "How does the gospel respond to a context of poverty, injustice, and abuse?' they asked. .. They proposed that the gospel was relevant to all of life, all areas of life, and all people. ...

The evangelical culture shock I experienced had everything to do with the good news of the kingdom getting so entangled with cultural values that it taken on the culture's image. ... the gospel of Jesus had been recast as the individualistic, spiritualized, pragmatic, verbal infomercial of North American culture. this means that if your gospel is only about yourself, your spirit, your converts, and your words, and in practice your highest loyalty is to your flag, you can easily live in peace, accumulate wealth, and call it a blessing from God, In your naivete and passivity you can support racism, land expropriation, inequality, abuses of power, wars for oil, nuclear build-up, economic exploitation, contamination, and all kinds of injustice, and still remain a good Christian, because your too-small gospel has nothing to say to the issues of your times.

The question I would like to leave with our readers is the following: what gospel will the Emergent movement embrace. ... In this analysis we wander at times if the emerging movement is in danger of emerging into a new package of the same old content. You are in danger of repeating the old paradigms of 'me and God,' 'the poor that need our help so desperately' (and we are so good that we give it), 'excellence in praise' (which means paying professional musicians to give a good religious show), 'homogenous units' (because mixing brigs conflict), 'we know how to do things best' (and since we contribute the money we decide how things are done), and 'having a successful church' (measured in the size of the membership, of the annual budget, and of the church buildings). All this is done with doughnuts and coffee, a rock band instead of organ music, bare feet instead of shiny black shoes, jeans and T-shirts instead of suits and ties, candles and colored cloths instead of rigid pews, projectors and colorful images instead or red hymnals. It's the same content, just different wrapping."

Elisa Padilla is executive director of the Kairos Foundation. "A Justice Emergency" in The Justice Project edited by Brian McLaren, Elisa Padilla and Ashley Seeber, Baker Books, 2009.260-5

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