Okay, let me openly say that I don't get it. And things are changing fast with this situation, so let's think this through.
Frost and Hirsch of Forge have an internal paper that basically says, as far as I can tell, that the emerging church contains various groups and is very diverse. They want to make clear that what Carson is dealing with in his book is not what they are dealing with in Australia. They want to make it clear that they are more conservative and more strategic in their pursuit of church planting (CPM's). I get it so far, but Emergent seems very uncomfortable with drawing lines inside the emerging church and have very aggressively/defensively told everyone to "stop it."
My question is, What's wrong with drawing lines inside the emerging church?
I have great respect for Brian McLaren, and things he has written (I've read a few) have helped me realize that people in the ec are asking the same questions as I have for the last couple of years. I've realized others see the same problem issues in evangelicalism as I have. It's connected me to a larger crowd and helped me be challenged beyond accepting what I've been told "just because." I think there are some in evangelicalism who need to be confronted by his writings and realize where we are failing. In that sense I am very sympathetic to the emerging church and McLaren. He's one of those guys who challenges you by offending you.
But I also realize that McLaren and others are asking some questions that I'm not asking. They are doubting some things I'm not doubting. And I don't get that from Carson's book, but from my own reading and understanding of him. So because of that, I think it's helpful and even necessary for people inside the ec to say that we don't agree with all that is being said inside the ec. I think there is a need to draw some lines, even when we want to remain sympathetic to the ec as a whole. Is that considered unacceptable?
I think Frost and Hirsch and Forge have acted in wisdom. To go after them for drawing lines is, I think, to deny them the goal of being missional. To be missional means to be incarnational in your context and culture, to understand local needs and issues and deal with them as the context dictates. Incarnational ministry is not only incarnational to the world, but also to the Christians around us. And if being incarnational in Australia means drawing a few lines inside the emerging church to show that Forge is different than Brian McLaren though they are all a part of the same conversation, so be it. I think being incarnational in the U.S. may mean that for many of us too.
That seems to make a lot of sense to me, and it seems heavy-handed for Emergent to say that drawing lines for the sake of incarnational ministry (while still holding to a unity of faith and even of ec values) isn't good enough.
Am I all wet or what?