Deconversion in the emerging church

  • Harrold P
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The experience of turning away from a particular religious identity or way of life – deconversion – is frequently noted in Emerging Church (EC) discourse. The impulse of rejection is emphasized as much as, perhaps more than, the inclination to find a new spiritual home. A survey of EC blogs and published works, principally from the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, indicates not only the pervasiveness of deconversion, but also its varied contours and ambiguities. Four rubrics of deconversion, as suggested by John D. Barbour, provide helpful tools for examining this late modern (or postmodern) phenomenon: intellectual doubt, moral criticism, emotionally charged metaphors and narratives of disaffiliation. Ambivalences abound – most especially, the predicament of finding oneself unable to move toward an identifiable destination. There are ironies too. The journey may be its own reward, but it is no less susceptible to the kind of homogenizing and commercializing forces which prompted deconversion to begin with.

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  • Philip Harrold

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