For the most part I don't live in the world of white Evangelicalism...nor its debates....as a young African american Christian whether or not Emergent is more in line with Calvin's Institutes gets little sympathy from me....I was checking my 9-year old out of the Children's ministry they have there. We were walking down the hall and I noticed he had a very perplexing look (His name is Israel...a very voracious reader of fantasy books) on his face. I asked him what was wrong. He asked, "Why are all the pictures of Jesus in 'our' church white?" ...But here's the deal though. We all agreed out of that two hour discussion that came from my son's probing question that this church needs to do something about issues relating to racial reconciliation and multi-ethnic participation and representation in the Church.
My comments from the blog:
I'm not perfectly fluent in bureaucrat-ese, but multi-ethnic participation sounds like code for 'do nothing of substance.'
The emergent church debate is actually quite important to the above issue; by focusing on the historical formation of the ideologies that drive the Church, the emergents provide some awfully helpful tools in this kind of area. I mean, we all know Jesus wasn't a porcelain-skinned western European, yet this image continues to dominate (american) church iconography.
The problem doesn't turn on vague mush like 'racial sensitivity' - rather, it turns on the question of why the white church continues to actively promote the falsehood that Jesus was "safe": a clean & well-kempt caucasian. How does this white-washed Jesus play into a larger white-washed theology?
I could go on, but that outlines an approach that an emergent would (or should) take. So the emergent thing, as emphasizing critical analysis, has quite a lot of bearing on "real problems." The emergent movement is a negative moment within a larger arc. I think this is why there's so much fuss over what the Emergent Church is: it's a negative, de-ideologizing moment. As a matter of positive theology, it's not so dissimilar from standard theology. We shouldn't underestemate the negative critqu of emergence, however.