I didn't want to admit this for a long time, but I have finally come to grips with something:
I am a Liberal Protestant.
I grew up as an Evangelical and still respect that part of Christianity, but as I was sitting in a group recently that was predominantly Evangelical, I realized that the terminology that I heard is no longer in tune with my way of thinking. After 15 years in Mainline Churches, I've become a Liberal Protestant.
That said, I am probably on the conservative end of Liberal Protestantism. While I am comfortable in mainline churches, politically I lean Republican. I've been involved with Republican groups like Log Cabin Republicans and Republicans for Environmental Protection for years. I've supported and volunteered on GOP camapigns. I'm supporting John McCain for President.
I'm a Liberal Protestant that is also a Moderate Republican. I believe in justice for the poor and care for the earth, but I also believe in low taxes and do not think government is always the solution to every problem. The long march of the GOP to the far right, has made me somewhat a liberal in a conservative party, and the leftward lean to the Mainline has made me a conservative in a liberal denomination. It makes for being one odd duck.
I am the one in church that tends to want the budget have mission giving built into the budget, rather than passthrough. Why? Because if we are serious about justice, then the church has to be living it.
So, I look at the Emergent movement and see people who are concerned about mission and wanting to share God's love in word and deed. All good. I want to sign up. But then I start seeing this joining between progressive politics and Emergent that makes me wonder if there is room for someone like me.
I've been reading "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope." It has it's good points, but for the most part, I've been a tad dissappointed. As I read the book, I kept wondering what in the world is the difference between some of the left theologians I am aware of and the Emergents. There is a lot of talk of the US as "empire" or how we should eat local, or how we are to be nonviolent and so on. I'm not saying any of this is bad, but the thing is, I have heard this in my own denomination from people who have no idea what Emergent is. The missional focus and the desire to do justice is great; but I keep feeling that I have to start voting Democratic and adopting the prevailing views of the Left to be a good Christian. Having been in Evangelical circles where one is a good Christian by voting GOP, it sounds like the same song, only a different tune.
If being Emergent means adopting progressive politics, then this movement is too damn small. God calls for justice, but doesn't tell us how to get there. There are some of us who think it comes not soley from large government programs, but through many sources, such as charities, churches, individuals and the government.
Maybe it's me, but I think there is too little diversity within the Emergent scene. It is too white, too straight, and too left. That leaves a lot of people out of the conversation, that might want to be a part of it. I wish "Manifesto" had more voices than those of a narrow focus.
Please understand: I am not saying we need to adhere to what is the prevailing mood in the GOP, which is grossly anti-gay and now anti-immigrant. I listen to my liberal friends because there is truth in their words. I may not always agree, but they do make some good points.
But as much as I detest how faith has become hostage to conservative politics, I am also wary of how faith is also hostage to liberal politics. Instead of critiquing both movements, we end up getting compromised by both.
It's good to know that I am not the only one concerned about this. But I do wonder if there is room for this odd Liberal Protestant/Moderate Republican duck in Emergent. I've having my doubts.