Saturday, April 29, 2006

Where Emergent Goes Bad (8) - Too Many Words

The Bible does have some interesting things to say about our words. First off, too much talk leads only to trouble.

Proverbs 10:8 A babbling fool will come to ruin.

That being the case, a wise person will learn to speak less than he will listen. There is wisdom in learning to keep your mouth closed.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue / keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking. but whoever restrains his lips is


Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed


The sheer volume of EC materials in books, web sites, blogs, podcasts, and emails, along with the overemphasis on dialogue at the expense of proclamation has created a library-sized collection of words. Some of these words aren’t even real words (“missional,” “emergent,” and “liminal” all come to mind), just made up phrases and verbal adjectives that make the outsider wonder if EC isn’t just really a collection of angry artists and English majors.

I am all for expressing ideas in fresh and riveting ways, but this might be better done by EC with fewer and more precise words. I know this may sound petty, but I believe this to be one of the foundational problems with the movement as a whole. In all this talk about meditation and silence and listening and dialogue and friendship, you think somebody would get the idea that actually not speaking or writing for a few minutes might be a good thing.

This becomes all the more frustrating when one is trying to study the movement and figure out what it is really saying. I am sure some will read this paper and say, “That is not what we are saying. You are not representing us fairly. What about this or that author/blogger/talker?” That makes for a nice out, but how can any one person possibly read all there is to read about EC?[1]

[1] Then again, maybe that is just my “out!”