In what I suspect will end up being a truly minor dust-up, emergent church leader Tony Jones recently called for a schism with churches which don’t ordain women. I’m not sure what that is supposed to look like (he seems to envision a stronger than usual shunning campaign), and I’m not terribly interested in the underlying issue either. It’s like watching someone declare that the most serious evil in the world today is youth unemployment, and then seeing him propose to fix it with nuclear weapons.
What does interest me is another publication by same leader from a few years ago that has been dug up. It concerns the stated principles of Emergent Village, which Tony helped form, and which you can still find up on their website. Here are some of their principles, in their own words:
We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Anabaptist. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential. … We seek to be irenic and inclusive of all our Christian sisters and brothers, rather than elitist and critical.
As for their practices:
To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation, while maintaining open definitions of “church” and “congregation.” We work in and with churches, seeking to live out authentic Christian faith in authentic Christian community.
To seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace, and without judgment, avoiding rash statements, and repenting when harsh statements are made. To speak positively of fellow Christians whenever possible, especially those with whom we may disagree.
To seek reconciliation with enemies and make peace.
To stay reconciled to one another. To give one another the gift of commitment not to give up on, betray, or reject one another, but instead, to encourage, honor, and care for one another.
When he formulated them, was Tony lying to us, to himself, or (scariest and also most likely) does he not even see the contradiction? Does it matter? In the end, whatever else we can say about these principle and practices, we can say this: they aren’t true.
I’ve been around to some dark recesses of the web, and seen a lot of things. I have never, ever seen somebody who both extols tolerance and practices it. Sometimes they simply haven’t ventured far enough out of their bubble to realize how many intolerable things there are out there. Most of the time, they drop the act as soon as they think they have the power to bring the sinners to their right to heel.