THE EMERGING CHURCH AS A CRITICAL RESPONSE TO THE NEOLIBERALIZATION OF THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE
The Emerging Church grew in prominence in the United States in the 1990’s as a reaction to seeker-sensitive approaches of nondenominational evangelical megachurches. These megachurches are known for the commodification of religion and the conception of church members as consumers, and are thus prime examples of the neoliberalization of the American religious landscape. In contrast, the Emerging Church opposes institutionalized and neoliberalized religious practices and structures, instead emphasizing local and contextual organization and practice as a basis for more “authentically Christian” lives. Nevertheless, the Emerging Church itself displays characteristics of neoliberalization, which I disclose using Wendy Brown’s definition of neoliberal rationality. This raises the question whether a lived critique of neoliberalization is possible in the late modern era.
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