In the previous post, we explored what became of the now defunct Emergent Church. In this final post, I’d like to continue exploring what some of the other leaders are up to now.
One of the intellectual leaders of the Emergent Church was Tony Jones. From my perspective, the progressive direction of the movement seemed to follow the theology of both Jones and McLaren. By the end of the Emergent movement, Jones publicly condemned original sin and penal substitutionary atonement and eventually began to adopt process theology.
Jones served as “theologian-in-residence” at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis during the heydays of the movement. He served in that roll until 2015. He now serves as Senior Acquisitions Editor at Fortress Press. In addition, he teaches theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (CV here).
Jones yielded much influence in the Emergent Church yet is now found in the academic and publishing world. His tweets, blogs, etc. have largely disappeared.
Close to Tony Jones in influence was Doug Pagitt. Pagitt served, and continues to serve, as the senior pastor of Solomon’s Porch where Jones once served as theologian-in-residence.
Since the death of the Emergent Church, Pagitt continues to promote postmodern Christianity. Pagitt is active with Convergence which is self-described the following way:
We are a diverse collective of faith-based organizations, leaders, artists, activists, learners and communities rooted in a just and generous historic Christian spirituality, embodying a new Christian ethos, and committed to action – for all people, the planet, and peace. Convergence is about the dream of a just and generous world for all people.
In addition to his church and Convergence work, Pagitt has published a few books though at a slower rate than during the peak of the Emergent Movement. His last book was Flipped in 2015.
Though his publications have slowed, Pagitt continues to speak on the radio for an hour every Monday-Wednesday in Minnesota on AM950. That station, according to Pagitt’s own website, is “the progressive voice of minnesota” (sic).
Speaking of progressive work, Pagitt has become more political and focused on social justice since the days of the Emergent Church. Last year, Pagitt was actively involved in flipping the House of Representatives from Republican and Democrat. Likewise, he is the founder and direct of Greater Things Foundation. Pagitt describes the work as:
Greater Things makes change by helping faith leaders and individuals leave behind the narratives of exclusion, violence, greed, sexism, exploitation and racism rooted in white supremacy, and embrace instead new narratives of reconciliation, inclusion, nonviolence, generosity, equality, and sustainability.
Although not technically part of the Emergent Church, Jim Wallis was an influence political voice within it. Wallis’s work began long before the birth of the Emergent movement. His book God’s Politics was an influential volume and was the name of a progressive political group he founded along with Sojourners which he continues to operate through.
For the most part, Wallis continues the same work he did before. Since he was never officially part of the Emergent Movement, its demise affected him little. In 2012, near the end of the Emergent Movement, Wallis debated Albert Mohler on the subject of the social gospel.
The main challenge Wallis faces as a progressive political leader is the lack of influence the theological left have over the progressive movement. Increasingly, Wallis’s voice is being drowned out by the secular left who do not see the significance of faith and theology. All of this was predictable and the political left will only continue to marginalize and reject theological arguments, even arguments from fellow liberals.