According to this article, some Catholics are getting involved with the “Emerging Church Movement“. This is a “post-modern” movement within evangelical circles which attempts to get beyond the traditional debates and constraints of Christianity. If that sounds vague, it is because the movement is notoriously hard to define, and means different things to different people. The wikipedia article says that participants can be described as “evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal, post-liberal, charismatic, neocharismatic and post-charismatic.” Sounds like quite a mixing pot.
But one thing I have found with my limited interaction with Emergent Church people is that they do not like to be “constrained” by doctrine. Most do believe in doctrines such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, but most also seem to be unwilling to accept traditional dogmas as proper limitations on belief. They think such limitations are a relic of the past Church and are not important in the “post-modern” world.
With that in mind, I do not see how one cannot question the following statement:
With that, there is “no natural resistance” to the Emerging Church [by the Catholic Church], according to Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico province.
Many in the Emerging Church would be comfortable with Catholics believing Catholic doctrine (often more comfortable than most traditional Evangelicals), but I cannot see them accepting these doctrines as a necessary part of being a Christian. Emerging Church members are not comfortable with absolutes, yet as Catholics, we accept doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Real Presence in the Eucharist as absolutely true. The truth of these dogmas is not dependent upon our beliefs – we simply accept or reject their preexisting truth. Not only are they true, but they are vital parts of the process of salvation. For example, the Emerging Church has no defined sacramental theology, yet Catholics believe that it is the sacraments which are the means which each person is united to Christ and thus saved. This is not an optional part of the Christian Faith, but a necessary component of it. How can that be compatible with the relativistic Emergent Church?
Needless to say, color me skeptical.