Thanks for writing with your thoughts!
Your comment surprised me, because as an Orthodox Christian, along with almost every other Orthodox Christian I know, I find the EC phenomenon to be disturbing. It has always struck me as the dying gasp of Modern Evangelicalism "Lite", the last attempt to "make Church relevant." But you can't water it down anymore and still have it be Christian...Joel Olsteen has already left Jesus behind, IMO.
"For one thing, EC (ie, Emergent Church) as opposed to EOC) patterns itself after more mystical theologians, with prayers such as hesychastic prayers, centering oneself, controlling one's breathing, seeking the contemplative part of worship, etc. Use of icons, incense, candles."
I must admit, I have never seen anything liturgical in an EC situation. Are we talking about the same thing? All of the ECs here have signs that say things like "Redefining Church" and "Church without walls" and have names like "Living Water Church" etc. I agree they use centering prayer, but Orthodox don't "do" centering prayer. Centering prayer is heretical. Hesychasm with its breathing techniques are a) restricted to a very small minority of monks who are under the direction of a spiritual father b) do not involve any mental imagery whatsoever (which defines centering prayer), c) is Christ-centered, not man-centered, the idea being to keep your mind and your heart united, on the name of Jesus, instead of letting your mind wander about thinking about material things. So any similarity to me would be superficial in this regard.
"EC puts a strong emphasis on community and the voices of the community, which is very similar to the way EOC recognises post facto out of all little-t tradition the big-S Sacred big-A Apostolic big-T Tradition that it acknowledges as authoritative and normative for the church."
We do in fact put an emphasis on the people of God, but our emphasis is always on the people of God protecting the eternal truths, not redefining them for cultural relevancy. You may disagree that that is what we are doing, but our aim is not to take small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition (Traditionalist Orthodox don't even believe that is a real dichotomy anyway, but that is another discussion), but to preserve Tradition and only define it as a reaction to an error. The EC phenomenon seems to relish in "recontextualizing" the "message" as often as possible.
"Following that, EC has a strong errantist streak wherein the Bible is not held to be without error. It ends up being subservient to traditions from within the church (or "the community" as ECs like to say). Same as in EOC, and quite different from evangelicals or Reformed."
Well, I agree that the Bible contains errors of fact, but that that was intended by God on purpose in some cases or was the result of the Jews misunderstanding what God was talking about in the OT. The Bible is subservient to the Word of God (the Logos), as is the Tradition of the Church. EC still maintains it is sola scriptura, and rejects the "traditions of men" which while you would say the same thing, they often take that as grounds to strip out things that you and I would agree upon, i.e. Theology 101. So EC seems to be a reductionist sect, whereas Orthodox seem to be a maximalist trend. You guys seem to be a "let's keep it within a certain boundary" (i.e. what is written down in the Bible or can be implied from the Bible) kind of group. I suppose you could argue we are two extremes of the same presupposition (i.e. against sola sciptura either de facto or de jure) but I could argue that you and they are both reductionists, but only differing on how far to take the program.
"In many EC congregations/communities, the Eucharist is a big central deal. (I actually wish that my own SBC church would make the Eucharist a bigger more central deal and am about to teach to that effect in my Sunday School class; I've asked the elders to do so but not really seen much change.) In EOC, of course, the Eucharist is also fairly central to worship."
Well if they are into that, they are on the right track. I hope you will succeed in your intentions as well.
"There's a strong streak of political liberalism and Social Gospel-type orientation toward action in both EC and EOC."
I haven't noticed any more liberalism than in many of the Baptist Churches down here in NC. I think there are social gospel streaks all over the place here. I don't care about politics much myself, but I consider myself a reactionary. So the modern Republican party is too liberal for me. Only a few modernists (such as the people I studied with at SVS) could I ever see as true social gospel types. Even the most liberal of them see it in terms of being stewards of God's creation, though, not in creating some kind of utopia on earth. I don't know any Orthodox person who does not beleive that Christ will return on Judgment Day and transform everything into some New Heaven and New Earth, utterly destroying this fallen creation. Maybe because you see us as semi-Pelagian or even Pelagian, this is where your perception comes from though? Because we don't beleive that man has lost the image of God (only the likeness?)
"Similarly, since EC is basically (theological) liberalism 2.0, 'salvation' is not viewed as getting right with a God Whose Law has been gravely transgressed and trampled on by sinful men, but rather it's growing this world towards a fair and just society in which God is honored thru everyone living out the love of Jesus in everything all the time. This is far more similar to theosis than to a Reformed/evangelical understanding of justification+transformation/regeneration -> sanctification -> glorification."
But I don't agree that that is what theosis is...so I can't say it's similiar :)
"Hope that helps!"
It does! I am wondering how much of this is due to not agreeing on some common assumptions...but now I sound like an ecumenist!
What is ironic is that I was just writing an essay against my local EC when I saw your post!! I will let you see it when I am done.
Well, I certainly find EC disturbing too! :-) And I agree with your estimation of its origin; in addition, some/many of them seem to be refugees from the seeker-sensitive megachurch model. That said, they've taken on themselves quite a few EO-esque or RC-esque or Eastern-esque practices, so the resemblances are probably mostly due to their aping of what's out there in other religious movements. But the resemblances remain.
--I have never seen anything liturgical in an EC situation
--monks with spiritual father
Well, ECers aren't very hierarchical, but you see, say, Rob Bell in Michigan doing this kind of stuff all the time, and he's a rockstar, so that's kinda like a spiritual father. Not exactly, sure, but it's close in practice.
-- do not involve any mental imagery whatsoever (which defines centering prayer)
That might be fair enough. I don't know how much the EC-ers involve mental imagery, tbh. But EC-ers like to accuse the Reformed of being "Platonic" all the time, too - they've proven they don't really know what they're talking about a lot of the time. Misapplying the term "centering" would just be par for the course.
--Christ-centered, not man-centered, the idea being to keep your mind and your heart united, on the name of Jesus
Well, the NAME of Jesus is not Jesus, not even close. If you want to be united with Jesus, we must do what He said and know His revelation, and hesychastic prayer is not even close to any Jesus-ordained prayer.
--not redefining them for cultural relevancy
When you claim to be reproducing and believing what the early church believed, or what the church throughout history believed, ANY dissenting voice from that history proves the claim to be false. Y'all don't look at it that simplistically, of course, but the question-begging way that you set yourselves apart from post-facto-labeled heretics and then appeal back to only the ECWriters who've passed your dogma tests to support your position as being the continual faith of the early church is what I'm pointing out is so ridiculously circular.
--but our aim is not to take small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition
Yes, I know; what I'm saying is that you take SOME small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition. The ones that fit your later agenda and later dogma.
--the Bible contains errors of fact, but that that was intended by God on purpose in some cases or was the result of the Jews misunderstanding what God was talking about in the OT
1) God intended to miscommunicate, or to communicate error? How do you figure that?
2) One has to wonder on what basis you assume that God did not ensure that the Jews wouldn't misunderstand the Big Stuff, like the Crucifixion or the Resurrection, versus misunderstanding only small stuff. I've never understood that sort of reasoning, as if your human reason gets to sit in judgment over what God has spoken. "True." "False! I in concert with modern science have thus decreed it!"
--The Bible is subservient to the Word of God (the Logos)
Well, I would call that a category mistake. The Logos breathed out His revelation; it's not subservient to Him. It's how we know Him.
--EC still maintains it is sola scriptura,
No no no no, this is definitely false. Not a chance. It's one of evangelicals'/Reformeds' biggest critiques of their position.
--You guys seem to be a "let's keep it within a certain boundary" (i.e. what is written down in the Bible or can be implied from the Bible) kind of group
1) I don't see a big problem with that, really. One could certainly do a lot worse than staying close to what God has said.
2) That said, I think you're confusing me with a Presby, who subscribes to the Regulative Principle. I hold to Sola Scriptura and in questions of non-essentials appeal often to Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8.
--I haven't noticed any more liberalism than in many of the Baptist Churches down here in NC.
This is a tu quoque; just b/c some (or even many) Baptists in your acquaintance are also liberals doesn't change the resemblance between EOC and EC in this area.
--So the modern Republican party is too liberal for me.
Well, on THAT we can agree! :-)
--I don't know any Orthodox person who does not beleive that Christ will return on Judgment Day and transform everything into some New Heaven and New Earth, utterly destroying this fallen creation.
That's actually an identical position to the Reformed/evangelical. But it's what we do in the interim, and especially the importance/priority placed on it, is what I was referring to.
And yes, please do send me the statement you're writing on EC. I'd like to see it, definitely.