Excellent McKnight Post: Inclusion Reaction

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 14, 2006

Check out this excellent post by Scot McKnight on what he calls “the inclusion reaction.” Here’s a snippet:

…There is an instinct among emerging Christians to defend those who were “othered” by evangelicals and an instinct to “other” evangelicals, even though many emerging Christians truly are moderate or progressive evangelicals (and nervous about that term).
The irony of it all sometimes amuses me: most of us in the emerging movement are more than committed to including women in traditional “ministerial roles” though we may also not even like such categories any more. But, here we are at times standing up for the ecclesiology of Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, when (if you haven?t observed) they have not made any genuine progress toward untying traditional knots that have excluded women from traditional ministerial roles…Why do we do this? The answer is simple and two-fold: we want to include those whom we have “othered” so we are especially sensitive to critique of Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. And, we want to develop an ecclesiology that gets “beyond” the old divisions and that means we have to work hard at inclusion - especially making room at the table for those whom we have othered.

Here’s my response:

Amen! I will now adopt “inclusion reaction” into my vocabulary. I think you are dead on. I am guilty of it, to be sure. Part of this may also be an issue of familiarity-I take my evangelical background for granted. It no longer excites me. The newness of other traditions is oh-so-appealing (all the more so because it was forbidden fruit in the church of my youth).

Although I recognize my reaction against evangelicalism alongside my defense of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, etc. (though I must say I don?t defend liberalism that often), I?m not sure how to make peace with my evangelical roots. I?ve stubbornly clung to my identity as an “evangelical” and as a “charismatic” even though many of my friends have dropped such affiliations. The stalwart evangelicals and charismatics I know aren?t impressed or honored by my desire to stick with them, however. :)

In order to foster my appreciation for evangelicalism (and to move beyond my reaction against evangelicalism), here is a list of 10 things I enjoy about evangelicals and their (our?) tradition (in no particular order):

  1. Evangelicals are centered on Jesus Christ and insist upon a vital relationship with him.
  2. Evangelicals try to take the Bible seriously.
  3. Evangelicals have a genuine passion to proclaim the Good News throughout the world.
  4. Evangelicals recognize the need for innovation and adaptability of forms in different contexts.
  5. For the most part, their movement is large and inclusive. Any movement that includes such profoundly different people as Mark Driscoll, Ron Sider, and James Dobson can’t be called narrow and exclusive.
  6. Evangelicals value orthodoxy.
  7. Evangelicals seek revival and renewal–they aren’t satisfied with cold tradition.
  8. Evangelicals are statistically more charitable than most other sorts of Christians.
  9. It could be argued that evangelicals are less likely to rank some Christians above other Christians–beliefs like the priesthood of all believers and the shared ministry of all believers are taken seriously by many evangelicals.
  10. There is something powerful about the evangelical emphasis on conversion–repentance isn’t something to be taken for granted, and transformation is something that all evangelicals are encouraged to experience.
Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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Viewing 3 Comments

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    Yes, that's a great post! Thanks for sharing it.
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    I like #2. We certainly do try. Successful? Maybe. But we sure do try.
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    Mark I really appreciate your list of ten. I am fascinated with emerging, am trying to have the inner city church I pastor merge with an emerging church, and am encountering very strong bias against evangelicals together with tolerance and love for almost anything that is not evangelical.

    As a professor at an SBC seminary, I have say that this kind of anti-evangelical stuff hinders the kind of communication I would like to see.


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