Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Solomon's Porch Video
I came across an eleven minute video about Solomon's Porch via Reformissionary. The video was originally posted at Tony Jones' blog. It is fascinating to hear about the church from the inside. I have a friend who goes to Solomon's Porch (and will hopefully comment on this post) and have heard about the church through him and other sources. So to actually see it was helpful.
I applaud the efforts of Solomon's Porch to build Christian community because evangelicalism is moving away from the intimacy of community churches to the alienation of mega-churches. Churches need to stress community, and Solomon's Porch has that at its core.
Steve McCoy asked commenter's to "do more than just react" and to "be generous." That is a helpful reminder--and one I hope I adhere to in my response.
The few things I have read, heard, and seen on the emerging/emergent church are exceedingly difficult to follow. So much of what they have to say is nearly incoherent to me. I am not at all versed in post-modernese. I don't have their vocabulary down. I simply cannot speak in broad language and brush around topics, and "converse" like they do. Maybe that is a shortcoming of mine in ministering to a post-modern culture, but in any case, I simply can't make much sense of what Doug Pagitt says in the video.
In the beginning of the video, Pagitt says that Christianity has become like a restaurant with value meals that you can't pick and choose from. He never clearly states what he means by the metaphor. So often critics of the emerging church put words into the mouths of the emerging leaders, and it is clear why this happens--they want to be able to interact with ideas, and without them, they will argue against what they believe leaders like Pagitt mean.
What does Solomon's Porch stand for as a church? If they don't have a statement of faith, what are they organized around? What is their mission and why? How ecumenical are they willing to be? These are the kinds of questions that are often asked without adequate answers.
One of my biggest concerns about church's like Solomon's Porch is the things they emphasize. Clearly and eleven minute video is not going to do a great justice to the church's vision, but I heard little about the good news of Christ in the video. The video, and perhaps the church by implication seems more concerned with differentiating themselves from other churches. Perhaps this is an unfair criticism, but were an eleven minute video made of my church, I would hope that the gospel would be a central theme.
I am concerned that those who attend Solomon's Porch and others like it bring their own ideology to their faith, rather than allowing their faith to inform their ideology. I am specifically concerned with the portion of the video where a young woman discusses the "What Would Jesus Do?" trend. She states that if Jesus were alive today he would be concerned with things like "racism, the environment, globalization, and feeding the masses." It is not that I disagree with her, as clearly those are all important issues, but this also sounds like Democratic talking points, or a Jim Wallis essay.
My last criticism is more of a quibble. The same young woman also talks about how community forces people to build relationships which expose "imperfections." Perhaps this is an emerging/emergent way to speak of sin. Perhaps more time and more thought would help her develop the idea more, but I would hope that sin is spoken of in harsher terms at Solomon's Porch rather than simply labeled as "imperfection."
The video really seems to raise more questions for me than it gives answers. That seems to me the entire ethos of the emerging church.