The first thing I thought when I saw Stephen Shields’ post “are there emerging church shibboleths?” was what a great idea that was, and what a great word. Shibboleth. I immediately wanted to link to it so I could use the word Shibboleth. You just don’t get to say shibboleth often enough, so rarely can you work it into a conversation. I remember it was a very good West Wing episode.
Then I read Stephen’s post, which is a good muse with a bunch of links in it. He suggests that categorizing types of emergents can be helpful to the discussion, and offers what he thinks is a reasonable emerging church shibboleth. Randy McRoberts takes a different view. Me? Not committing to a viewpoint just yet, really… but I do think there are ec shibboleths. ANKOC. See? If you got that without putting your cursor over the word to see the flyover, well… you know.
Hey, I had someone ask me what shibboleth meant after watching that same West Wing Episode. What are the chances? And it is a truly fantastic word.
Of course the “emerging church” has shibboleths. And if they don’t have full blown ones yet, it won’t be very long.
Shibboleths will always eventually emerge (pun intended) as any movement takes a more defined shape and starts to codify things, etc. That process has already been underway in the “EC” for quiet some time in my view anyway.
Shibboleths seem to be an unfortunate inevitability–a part of our broken humanity I fear.
And yes, you do detect some jadedness in this comment.
Nice use of a new word. It’s no surprise that the emerging church has shibboleths. So do all organized groups of people. My quilting friends speak a language that doesn’t mean anything to many people. The term “fat quarter” wouldn’t mean anything to most people, but it does to quilters. I don’t see anything wrong with having shibboleths … it’s just shorthand that allows us to communicate more easily with one another. It becomes a problem when we use those language shortcuts to exclude those who are not currently part of the group. As long as we are open, educate newcomers freely and don’t use language as a barrier, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Good point. Although I’ve read most of McLaren’s books, I had to mouse-over ANKOC to figure it out. It reminded me of ANKIT: Another New Kid In Town from the song by Glenn Fry and Don Henley. If you don’t know that song then you’re not likely a fan of 1970s country-rock/folk-rock. Is â€œEmergentâ€? just ANKIT?
I’ve worked in computer systems and networking for twenty years and have been married to a nurse for a bit longer, during which time I’ve run across a few acronyms that mean different things to different groups. For example, â€œPRNâ€? means â€œas neededâ€? in the health care world, but â€œprint fileâ€? or â€œprinter output file,â€? as in example.prn, to computer geeks. Jargon is jargon, but nobody can claim ownership of it.
When jargon is used as a test for inclusion, it’s called in-grouping and ranges from distasteful to evil. Christianity in general has its own jargon, too. â€œBorn againâ€? comes to mind. And I’d wager that most people who use that phrase have no idea what it really means. Most seem to think it refers to an Evangelical Christian. In fact, I doubt if more than a tiny percentage of born-againers have any clue that a discussion of â€œborn from aboveâ€? and â€œborn of water and spiritâ€? would put a significant strain on their modern rationalistic sensibilities. Which reminds me of a question.
How many â€œemergentâ€? â€œmissionalistsâ€? are willing to dig into the esoteric, gnostic, mystic, â€œeasternâ€? shibboleths that already exist in scripture? How about â€œgateâ€? and â€œdoorâ€?? Or â€œLiving Waterâ€??