As the Emerging Church is one of the most significant developments in current popular Western ecclesiology, it is important that it be engaged theologically. As part of this engagement, this paper brings the Emerging Church into a constructive dialogue with John Wesley, a theologian who shared similar passions and faced comparable challenges. It maintains that Wesley would applaud the spirit and creativity of the Emerging Church, especially its mission to reach contemporary seekers and its desire to recapture an ancient-future faith. However, he would also challenge some potentially harmful tendencies and exhort the Emerging Church toward maturity in these areas. The paper begins by exploring several commonalities between Wesley and the Emerging Church, including: (i) resistance to Enlightenment rationalism and an embrace of religious experience, (ii) a passion for evangelism, (iii) a commitment to a kingdom worldview and values, and (iv) a spirit of ecumenism. Subsequently, the paper offers a critique of certain aspects of the Emerging Church in light of Wesley's theology and ministry and then concludes by proposing a way forward on the basis of insights gained from Wesley.
Note of correction and apology: It has been brought to the editor’s attention that three paragraphs from page 104-105 of Mark A. Lamport’s article Unintended Outcomes, Curious Inventions & Misshapen Creatures (63:1, Spring 2008), are substantially identical to material from Andy Crouch’s article “Let’s Get Personal.” Books & Culture, January/February 2002, page 12. Mr. Lamport did not previously cite this material in his article. It begins, “Hard to explain, impossible to forget,” and continues to, “should we, propose a new version of Christianity?” The editor extends his deepest apologies for this error to Mr. Crouch, and suggests anyone quoting material from this article to be sure and properly cite Mr. Crouch if using this selection.
Franklin, Patrick S.
"John Wesley in Conversation with the Emerging Church,"
The Asbury Journal:
1, p. 75-93.
Available at: http://place.asburyseminary.edu/asburyjournal/vol63/iss1/5