I have been a huge fan of the goals of the emerging movement over the past 10-15 years or so. The emphasis on social holiness (acts seeking social justice) is one among many that I most admire. That being said, two unfortunate things seem to have grown out of the larger movement. One is the co-opting of the movement by those who would rather effectively dismantle than simply deconstruct the faith.
The other is that in an effort to build bridges, open dialogue and become more relevant to an unbelieving culture, some among the community of faith have seemingly decided that certain moral standards previously associated with personal holiness are no longer of any real significance.
As an example, it is not that unlikely to find a drunk (as opposed to one simply enjoying a frothy beverage or two), emergent evangelical cursing strongly about something at a local pub. In truth, this has always been the case to some degree. But in the past, for followers of Jesus, it was seen even by the person committing the act, as a violation of our call to personal holiness.
Now it is almost a badge of honor whereby those engaged in the activity may proclaim their freedom from broken, irrelevant, institutional religion. They no longer hide their behavior, or seek counsel for it. They joke and tweet about it, posting the pics on flickr apparently hoping to be seen as, well, relevant. So has personal holiness become the wrong kind of holiness?
From the way I am writing, you can guess I see this as a negative. But maybe I’m off base. Maybe personal holiness has nothing to do with it. Maybe being relevant requires this kind of thing. Or maybe my whole understanding of the meaning of personal holiness is way off. If you think I have gone wrong, let me know where.
Funny, but even as I read back over what I’ve written here, there is a little voice that says, “People are going to think you are one of those up-tight, morality-imposing bigots if you talk like this.” Am I? Where does that voice come from?