What has ‘emerged’ in the ‘emerging church’ movement, through writers such as Brian McLaren, is merely a new form of correlational theology – or what I will term ‘neo-correlational theology’. This ‘emergent’ movement aligns itself with Paul Tillich's systematic presentation of what he termed a ‘theology of culture’ addressed in his 1919 lecture ‘Über die Idee einer Theologie der Kultur’ and is deeply rooted in theological essentialisms aligned with Friedrich Schleiermacher and Don Browning. While many adherents of the Emergent movement have recently attempted to catalogue its theological legacy, this article will address three key emphases which haunt the corners of its discourse yet remain largely unacknowledged. First, the heritage of Schleiermacher's notion of ‘feeling’ as an authentic categorical form of knowledge forged through radical reflexivity which is the proper domain for authenticity in the Emergent movement. Second, as underscored in Tillich's Theology of Culture, the church as ‘emergent’ is profoundly imminent and therefore necessarily social, positivistic and historical. Third, theological anthropology is understood primarily through our freedom over and (at times) against the necessity of redemption. The question this article will address is whether or not such an approach reimagined as ‘neo-correlational theology’ and actualised through the ‘emerging church’ movement tacitly relies upon a more traditional theology which it explicitly rejects.
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