Who are we? We are the ones being criticized for being critical. We are a movement, born only partly out of reaction, which you love to point out. Of course, every movement worth having throughout history was at least partially born out of reaction. What are we reacting to? Well, that can be answered only by answering the original question: who are we? We, friends, are the ones who grew up listening to your propaganda from our wooden pews. We perked up when you spoke of God's love and described Him as a father, because many of us lacked fathers. Then, just as you had our undivided attention, you informed us that our Father would send us to a place called hell if we missed too many church services. We wondered if this was any better than being fatherless. Your explanation had something to do with not forsaking the assembling of the saints. To this day we enjoy assembling with the saints, just not listening to your speeches - assembling is how we get our energy to get through this sometimes difficult life. We couldn't picture Jesus making the same threats as you for the same reasons as you. We rejected your interpretation of scripture and chose Jesus instead. We are the ones who bought your american dream that you sold as gospel. We listened to you when you told us that God wanted to make us rich, and the avenue to do so was to give our money to you. We later discovered that God has deep care and concern for His children in other countries who daily give out of what they do not have, and daily starve so their children can eat. We were able to picture Jesus sacrificing meals for others, but we couldn't imagine Him acting like you. Again, we chose Jesus over your interpretations of scripture. We are the ones who listened intently as you taught us your definition of evangelism. We understood the need to go to other countries and we value that to this day, but we couldn't understand why it was acceptable to allow the community we live in to go to shambles. We wondered why we shouldn't interact more with our culture, and you said something to us about the evils of alcohol and gambling. You spoke to us of the temptation of loving the things of this world, and then asked us to refrain from loving the people of this world so that we could resist the temptation. If we don't interact, we can't fall into their sin, right? So you asked us to call them out of this world and into the church, all the while we couldn't grasp why the church shouldn't be brought to the world. We listened when you interpreted "in the world but not of it" as simply living here but seperating ourselves from all reality. We are the ones who bought your Christian music, went to your Christian events, purchased your Christian t-shirts, played your Christian video games and basically participated in the "Christian alternative" to everything that exists. While we realized that these items could be beneficial in their proper time and place, we wondered why you would encourage us to spend all of our time in a Christian mountaintop experience. We wondered when we were supposed to come down from that mountain and interact with the real world, so that we could avoid hell by preaching the gospel. We had a hard time picturing Jesus doing what you taught us, but a very easy time picturing Him showing love to the drunkards, prostitutes, and basically everyone He ran into. We noticed that His very presence seemed to transform entire communities, and wondered if perhaps the church could live a little more missional like Him. We rejected your sad interpretation of scripture and chose Jesus once again. We are the ones who sat by and watched as you taught morals and didn't live them out. We, being admitted sinners, could understand why it was hard to live that legalism you were teaching, but wondered why you tried to cover it up. If Jesus died for sinners, why not just confess your sins? You agreed and therefore repented of anger and unforgiveness, keeping your adultery and thievery to yourself. It was at that point that we decided we would just be genuine and authentic. Not perfect, just truthful and open. Forget the part where I compare your actions and interpretations to that of Jesus: isn't is obvious? We are the ones who sat in the back row and looked at you funny when you told us who to vote for from your elevated pulpit. We could understand the issues that you were passionate about, and we even agreed with you on several of them, but we wondered if there could really be a righteous political party. If we started killing just as many people by bombing, starvation, and lethal injection as we do abortions, then would it be ok to vote for the other guy? Needless to say, we couldn't picture Jesus as being associated with any one party, and once again we chose Him over your legalistic interpretation of scripture. We are the ones who watched as you felt the need to have answers for everything, and wondered why we couldn't just embrace mystery sometimes. We prefer to view life in terms of process and journey, and therefore have no issues with having some unanswered questions in our lives. This isn't to say that there is no absolute truth, it is simply to say that it can only be found in a person, not a formula. We are the ones who made the people who looked different in church feel welcome there, and wondered why you weren't doing the same thing. We were the ones yelling about unity when you were dividing over wine, grape juice, inerrancy, inspiration and the role of women. We were the ones inventing ways to reach a culture for Jesus while you debated whether projection screens were relevant and appropriate. We do offer some positive in this critique. You got some things right, one of which is vitally important: Christ and Him crucified. For this we must thank you. Thank you for teaching us this truth. It is this truth we will hang on our hats on as we search and seek out more truth, and it is this truth that allows us to call you brother or sister, despite our differences. Despite those differences, we welcome you into our conversation. Go ahead, critique our critique. We can handle it. Our words are meant to awaken, but not divide. We are purposely passionate and opinionated, but we hope to be loving even moreso. If we are not speaking what we believe to be truth in love, then let us know. We love good healthy discussion, and we acknowledge that we still have much to learn and can potentially learn some of it from you. However, just know that we tend to percieve things differently. We were, and still are, the ones who believe in incarnational living. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and now we the church are to be Jesus to this world. We are the emerging church and we refuse to view scripture through your lenses any longer. We choose Jesus.