You can tell a lot about a group by how they respond to criticism. I remember when the Vineyard was a younger movement, they originally had a policy against responding to criticism… this later changed when a couple of malicious critiques came out, and official position papers were published, beginning with John Wimber’s “Why I Respond to Criticism,” a 1992 change on the 1988 stance.
I’m reminded of this because of this week’s discussion in emerging church blogdom concerning past and future criticism. I’m speaking of Stephen Shields’s post on NextWave.org and Andrew Jones’ post on TallSkinnyKiwi summarizing past critiques of the emerging church.
As someone who’s still discovering the emerging church conversation, these two posts and the hyperlinks they contain provide a lot of information on how this new conversation deals with criticism, mainly by referencing past criticisms and responses and by offering hopes for future critiques, which seem to be welcomed. Unusual these days – but a wise response, I think.