Emerging Movement as the Evangelical Vatican II?

Tony Jones posted an interesting email on the Emergent Village weblog from a Roman Catholic who compares the emerging church movement to Vatican II. Read what he says and see if you agree,

The Second Vatican Council took place in the Catholic Church from 1962 to 1965. Called by Pope John XXIII, finished by Pope Paul VI, it was the first time in over four centuries that the Catholic Church really took a look around and said, “Hey, there’s a whole wide world out there, that isn’t so bad….maybe we oughta find out what’s going on in it, and see if it has anything to do with our community of faith”. The opening lines of The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (in Latin, Gaudium et Spes) set the tone for this new way of being church: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts”. No longer would, or could, Catholics remain isolated, insular, or reactionary to the world, or others in it. The Catholic Church’s new mission became the world itself, and its transformation would transform the Church as well.

That seems to be what’s happening in Emergent. The people involved seem to all of a sudden see that there’s a big, wide world out there that we all live in- and most of it isn’t even considered “Christian”!- and somehow they have to do everything they can to learn more about it. Somehow everything they’ve learned up to this point – about being a Christian, about being part of the Church – has to change, so that they can truly be a follower of Christ every day of the week. Emergent seems to be a kind of Evangelical Vatican II, for many Christians that got their institutional start a hundred years ago- and maybe not even that long for others!

Pope John XXIII’s legendary quip about Vatican II was that he convened the Council because he wanted to let a little fresh air into the Church by opening up a few windows. I hope the Emergent conversation can do the same for my Evangelical friends, and I look forward to being a part of it for those in my own neighborhood.

Before Vatican II, the RCs worshiped in Latin, and then moved to vernacular masses.  I wonder if part of what is happening in the emerging movement is the move from our version of Latin (whatever that might be) to vernacular church.  In any case, this is definitely something to think about.

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2 thoughts on “Emerging Movement as the Evangelical Vatican II?

  1. Great question, Matt.

    At dinner tonight, my kids and wife and I were talking about the youth group at our church. Lisa and I feel that there isn’t much of a Christian model of behavior going on right now (between youth pastors). Kids are not treating each other or parent volunteers with Christian love.

    What was sad and interesting is that both of our teens think there is nothing that can be done about it. “That is the way it is,” they say.

    I worry that our youth program has been so eager to speak in the vernacular of today’s youth that it has lost the ability to speak in the church’s language at all. And the result is that hope has fled.

    I’m not for going back to Latin Mass (to stretch the metaphor), but I pray we keep contact with what it means to be a church as we strive to speak in new languages.

  2. I am not sure Emergent (Village) is necessarily the evangelical Pope, (the only lead team or voice) for the emerging church movement. But, I guess our protestant “Latin” is probably the Modern/Foundationalism/Consumerism/(and any other -ism you want to insert) that currently dominates our way of doing church. Perhaps the emerging church movement (Emergican II?) is bringing fresh air into the Protestant church by allowing the overwhelming voice of the postmodern movement and thought and vernacular into our way of being the church. Notice the shift from doing church to being the church. This is key to the Emergican II movement, in my opinion. Good post Matt.

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