(I have hesitated for some time about making this post. First, I worry about presenting something new within Protestant circles on Integrity. This is a Catholic blog with a mostly Catholic audience, and I wouldn't want people to get the wrong impression about what I believe or to explore something that I have doubts about and that might lead them away from the Church. Second, I want to be respectful of the nature of the conversation that these Christians are having. I think Integrity's readers have shown themselves to be a noble lot, but there's a tendency to worry about that possible one bad apple who follows the links below and makes a complete you-know-what of himself. Nevertheless, I have decided to take the risks and make the post.)
I am not sure how I originally came across what has been dubbed the emergent church conversation, but my curiosity was piqued when I encountered Steve McCoy's blog, Reformissionary. (It also happens to be the case that Steve lives in my general area.) Truthfully, I can't really figure out what the heck the emergent church conversation is about. It probably doesn't help that I also don't share an evangelical Protestant background. Maybe then I would grasp some of the concepts easier. I remember attending The Vine's conference five years ago and there being a huge interest in the Christianity and Post-Modernism panel. I stood there scratching my head wondering what the fuss was all about. I have long thought post-modernism offered some insightful critiques, but as a deconstructionist view it ultimately collapses in on itself. So any Christian effort that applies post-modern thought leaves me skeptical.
But I was drawn to the blogs of Steve and his friends by the genuine seeking of God that is abundantly apparent behind some of their questions and observations. And this was only affirmed for me by the discussion about rediscovering the communal nature of being a Christian at this post on Steve's other blog, Emerging SBC Leaders. Of course, even us Catholics need to remind ourselves that Christianity isn't just me and Jesus. Hey, we live in America, too, and are just as prone to the culture's influence.
It is one of the reasons why I have so appreciated my time with the Communion and Liberation movement and the work that we are currently doing reading Fr. Giussani's book, Why the Church?. (I think Steve and his friends would appreciate Fr. Giussani's work.) In fact, the past two weeks in School of Community we have specifically discussed koinonia, a Greek word that the early Christians chose to describe this new people Christ brought together. Fr. Giussani notes that this word, koinonia, is not originally a word with religious significance. In fact, a form of it is used in the Gospel (Luke 5:10), to describe how John, James and Peter jointly owned a fishing boat. Fr. Giussani draws from this word two elements: joint ownership of the fishing boat and flowing from that joint ownership a solidarity amongst the fishermen to make the boat profitable. And given that these very men chose to describe this new people as a koinonia, Fr. Giussani argues that this new people gathered by Christ are a koinonia because they jointly possess -- belong to -- a common reason for living, that is Jesus Christ. And that from this joint possession -- belonging to the one Christ -- flows a solidarity between them. But the fishing boat example gives us something more. If the fishermen did not cooperate, did not recognize and affirm their solidarity, their enterprise would fail. Now I have not completed my reading of Why the Church?, but I know enough about Fr. Giussani's writings and the description of the Church in Acts to know that that same lesson applies to us. Our salvation and journey to sanctification is wrapped up in this people that Christ called together and we need to embrace that if we want to draw closer to Him.