Rohr believes the central identity of the emerging church arises from its ability to bring together different traditions. He uses the phrase “spiritual globalization” to describe this idea. He also notes that there seems to be no central leadership or structure, and he attributes the growth of the movement (potentially, at least) to the work of the Holy Spirit.
He also views the emerging church as a reformational movement within existing structures, as opposed to an effort to create a new denomination or self-perpetuating institution. In that sense, the movement acts to identify denominational biases and to help us to “own” them and also separate our identity from them.
The essential elements of the emerging church: (1) honest Jesus scholarship (we allow Jesus to be Jewish, living in his own time, own culture, and we hear him on his own terms), (2) concern for social justice (as opposed to solely focusing on individual salvation), (3) the “contemplative eye” (consciousness of reality is transformed from an “either/or” phenomenon to a “both/and” phenomenon), and (4) a search for new vehicles to form disciples (but, he says, these new vehicles have yet to emerge).
On element 3, he makes a fascinating point: he says that Jesus was the first “non-dual” teacher in Western civilization, and that Christians have been trying to make him dualistc ever since. Emergent is trying to restore the perception of Jesus as a “non-dual” teacher. I wish he could have unpacked this more. I think it would have been very interesting.
[Post Script – having liveblogged this event, I feel like I have participated in an important rite of passage within the emerging movement. I wonder if Andrew Jones should send me a certificate of achievement or something. Maybe at least Jason Clark will comment…]