Monday, April 23, 2007

Emergent church

Last night I listened to two radio programs on the new forms of church. Some call it emergent church, others alternative others say its just another word for the charismatic renewal and the AIC's. Maybe it is merely the Americans trying to label and intellectual property-fying and exporting back a move that has been going on in the aftermath of decolonization in the South anyway. Jurgens Hendriks on 702 seems to say that AIC's - or as it was called in the program, the 'breakaway' churches is simply part of this new move of God. Earlier, on RSG (Afrikaans radiostation) it was refered to as the alternative church, which is basically spreading the same old gospel story, in a new way (package). I agree that we need to have a historical perspective on what is happening currently. What is happening in the UK and North America ( also in Australia and NZ-Aot ?) need to be viewed in terms of the context that the church finds themselves in there. The Newbigin-inspired gospel and our culture network is doing just that- a mission by and for and to the north. We have these pockets of the West in the colonies still and they have their links to the metropole ( to the motherland). Then, we have the South, the colonies, the rest... do we now ( again) swallow the medicine that the doctor prescribe or do we go for the traditional healer. It seems to me that a lot of what is suggested in the glorification of the AIC's is a regression back to the traditional healer. If only we could go back to a primordial past, purged from Western influence and culture, in church and society then we can sit ( again) under the tree and smoke the pipes whilst the women, the children and the slaves go on with their work on the land. I quess, it doesnt take a lot of brainpower ro realise to discover that we have moved on, due to the colonial project and now in the context of neocolonialism we discover we are mixed, mobile, Euro/Asian-Africans, who are negotiating and re-inventing our self-concept as we engage in living.A postcolonial position will assert: we are not only in Joburg any more the colony, we are Joburgers in Seattle for 7 months, in Amsterdam for a year, working on a pig farm in the UK for 3 years and 'come visiting home' in Stellenbosch for a month. Even the US and UK are not what it used to be... the key players in the England cricket team look more Indian, and sound more South African then typical English- and it is in this fluid and emerging context- postcolonial that church has to make sense. This for me is not the case in AIC's and charismatics ( let alone us 'mainstreams' or sidestreams !