I was on a long road trip over the past two weeks and one thing that was stuck in my head while I drove was an article by David Fitch. He is an Anabaptist and had just come back from an event with Phyllis Tickle.
The part of his post that kept coming to mind was this:
Phyllis sees a Christianity that comes together (eventually) through conversations. I see a Christianity that is splintering. As a result Christians look antagonistic to the world. Consequently, I don’t see a Great Emergence in our future. I see something that looks more like a Grand Disappearance exacerbated by this unappealing internal Divergence.
As an Anabaptist, David has an automatic assumption – a built in critique. Anabaptism is , by its very nature, a critique of the State Churches and the orphan (bastard) offspring that mutated in America after the Reformation in Europe. Phyllis is a Episcopal (Anglican-Church of England). You can see where the might disagree on some pretty foundational stuff.
There were several points of connection for me:
- I was editing an interview with David Fitch for Homebrewed Christianity
- I love the Great Emergence and reference it all the time
- I had just posted a blog about my expectations for the next 50 years.
Fitch goes on to talk about his comfort with being a minority – it is the Anabaptist way after all. On this point, I don’t think that Phyllis would disagree with him too much. I had said in my earlier post that I think there will be 50 percent fewer Christians in America in 50 years than there is now. On that point, I don’t think that David would disagree with me too much.
The only place then that there seems to be genuine disagreement is found in what we think the smaller remnant will look like. I am hoping for an irenic emergence with a few ornery fundamentalist still using their megaphones (but commanding less attention). My hope is that once we settle into the reality of being a minority religion that we will adjust our expectations which will in turn transform our expressions.
What are your expectations? What do you think it will look like? Is that a good or a bad thing?
You can get Fitch’s new book “the End of Evangelicalism?” at Amazon and for Kindle