After the Emerging Church tried to "reinvent" the church (McLaren), theologians take a critical look at the new emergent ecclesiology (if there really is such a thing). The Knox Centre‘s freshly installed Kevin Ward did exaclty that in his recent inaugural lecture entitled, "IT MIGHT BE EMERGING: BUT IS IT CHURCH?." The bulk of the paper does pose the question as to what exactly constitutes a church according to orthodox belief (more specifically, the Nicene Creed) and comparing the answer to emergent positions. While the whole paper (put online by Jason Goroncy) is worth a read, here’s his conclusion.
When is a church a church? I would probably in the end agree with Miroslav Volf’s conclusion, that “where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, not only is Christ present among them, but a Christian church is there as well, perhaps a bad church, a church that may well transgress against love and truth, but a church nonetheless.” Many in the emerging movement prefer to talk about the emerging conversation than emerging church. My plea would be for those within the movement to include in the conversation all of those who with them are members of the “one holy catholic apostolic church”, so they might come to more adequately share those marks. And to those sure they are members of that church, but suspicious as to whether these new comers qualify, to reach out in conversation with them and so help us all to more fully demonstrate the transforming presence of the risen Christ in our life together.