No, I don’t mean the current buzz word amongst western evangelicals for their version of how to coordinate a worship service. Actually, ironically enough, this term, as far as I can tell was first used in 1980 by Johann Baptist Metz as the title of one of his books on political theology. The Emergent Church is a trenchant critique of Metz’s constant enemy which is “bourgeois religion”. In fact, his book bearing this title was intended to be titled “Beyond Bourgeois Religion”, but apparently the publisher wouldn’t go for that.
Regardless, I find it at least a bit ironic that the first book to be titled “The Emergent Church” would be a critique of bourgeois Christianity when the contemporary phenomenon that bears the same name is almost exclusively a phenomenon of the Christian bourgeoisie in the West! Here’s a quote from the book:
“Did not Jesus himself incur the reproach of treason? Did not his love bring him to that state? Was no he crucified as a traitor to all the apparently worthwhile values? Must not Christians therefore expect, if they want to be faithful to Christ, to be regarded as traitors to bourgeois religion? True, his love, in which everything at the end was taken from him, even the whole majesty and dignity of a love which suffers in powerlessness, was still something other than the expression of a suffering with others, which the the unfortunate and oppressed, out of sheer solidarity. It was rather the expression of his obedience, and obedience that submitted to suffering because of God and God’s powerlessness in our world. So must not Christian love in following after Christ continually strive toward that same obedience?