I’ve been trying to catch up. I’ve been looking into definitions – primarily at Wikipedia – for items like “emerging church” and “postmodernity” and “evangelical” and “fundamentalist Christian” so I’ll know better what people are talking about when they bandy about those terms and others.
(And, by the way, all of the cross-reference links and talk links and dispute notations in Wikipedia are very helpful, even though they can draw you into a whirlpool that only the strongest of the curious can resist.)
I have resisted doing my homework for this long, not because of any fondness for ignorance, but because I hate it when definitions become labels. We need definitions. We don’t need labels.
We certainly don’t need to view those labels as magic words that make something what we label it; or that make others agree with us; or that make them do what we want them to do.
Labels can be very effective; I don’t argue that. They can also be very destructive and divisive.
You can call someone a label and get elected. You can call someone a label and get him or her excluded, banished, excommunicated – or worse. You don’t have to prove it. All you have to do is allege it.
All that matters is the sound byte. And it has always been that way.
When the fellowship of believers began, the discriminating label was “Christian.” You could be tortured and executed for owning it. But as the majority began to wear that as an “in” label, the “out” labels proliferated and changed: “Hussites.” “Anabaptists.” “Protestants.” “Separatists.” “Reformers.”
You know the more recent ones.
Do we really need to add more?