Friday, June 29, 2007

Two Sweet Free Articles

SO today I cam across to free theology articles that I support you reading.

1. Tony Jones was rejected by Wheaton who decided not to publish his plenary lecture at their theology conference this year. So, go read it and realize just how to combine baseball, the early church fathers, and emerging churches together.

2. Marjorie Suchocki, the most kind theologian I have ever met, has her introduction to Process Theology lecture at the Process and Faith website for free. If you ever had any interest in Process Theology, then check it out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Important Question

So I got some good books for my birthday, but now I have the trouble of picking which to read first. I generally read two or three at a time, but even then this is a difficult decision. Here they are.
1. The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology ed. by Kevin Vanhoozer
2. The Fragile Absolute by Slavoj Zizek
3. Liberal Theology: A Radical Vision by Peter Hodgson
4. Liberating Paul: the justice of God and the Politics of the Apostle by Neil Elliott
5. The Emerging Christian Way includes Marcus Borg, Sallie McFauge, Matthew Fox...
6. Christianity and the Postmodern Turn: Six Views ed. by Myron B. Penner
7. Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times by Joerg Rieger
8. Simple Church by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger
9. The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God by Charles Hartshorne

Monday, June 18, 2007

Emerging Community Vision pt.2

Part One, Christocentric Community is here.

Sacramental Living
: The cultural landscape of modernity created a rigid and attentively maintained distinction between sacred and secular space. In a postmodern context this divide is no longer life giving and so the emerging community will seek to sacramentalize spaces, places, faces, and name traces of God’s creative goodness in the world. This process of sacramentalizing life includes worship but extends to the life of each member in their daily living. The goal is that the life of the community be one that is attentive to the presence of God, that celebrates the goodness of God’s world, and creates space for the grace of God to permeate its life together.
1. Worship: The worship services will be geared toward a holistic expression of the Gospel. In modernity the written\spoken media dominated the life of the worship service so that the Word of God was equated to the reading of scripture and its exposition in a sermon. While these both have their place in worship the community will also seek to express God’s story through the diversity of media available (including the arts), seek to engage more senses through interactive – participatory elements of worship, and intentionally shape worship to the liturgical calendar so the church’s story grounds the life of the community. [ex. The sermon would not be the centerpiece of the worship service and would more than likely not be a monologue of imparting knowledge, but more dialogical and engaging. OR Baptist theology of baptism and an Anglican view of Communion.]
2. Community: The relationships in the community will be valued at a premium. The relationships between the members, guests, the community, the marginalized, and God are all part of the universally expanded network of Godbelovedness our Abba has called us to live in love with. The first commitment of a member is a commitment to these relationships and their flourishing. The community and its living should be an open space of grace that gives the welcome of Christ to all, inviting all it encounters to a transformative relationship with God, and being there to encourage and help each other along the journey. [ex. When someone joins the community the community will change because they are a part of it. The community promises to become a place where we can flourish together and so everyone is asked to share something that is part of their giftedness and uplifting to the community.]
3. Vocation: Part of taking down the sacred-secular divide is demolishing the ordained – laity divide. The Emerging Community would not only seek to incorporate its members into the life of the church and its service to the world, but also help develop an understanding of vocation where each member sees their own occupation as part of the church’s ministry and service to God. The community would be a community of ministers who serve in a variety of occupations in the city they are called to serve. [ex. If there is a teacher in the community, they are known as a minister of education and child of God development. If there is a lawyer, they are known as a minister of legal services for the coming of God’s kingdom.]

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who's Afraid of Post-Modernism?

James K. A. Smith gives an interesting introduction to postmodernity that could work for those with little or no theology\philosophy background. Each chapter focuses on a film that he uses to draw out the meaning behind bumper sticker phrases by the most noted of the deconstructionist philosophers. For a general setup of pomo in chapter one he uses ‘the Matrix.’ Chapter two is a discussion of Derrida, the superb film ‘Memento,’ and Derrida’s infamous line ‘there is nothing outside the text.’ Chapter three looks at Lyotard, ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ and those evil ‘metanarratives’ modernity gave us. Chapter four is on Foucault, ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ and the connection between power-knowledge- discipline. Despite being generally leery of a Radical Orthodox (RO) theologian using philosophy - because I assume they are generally setting up their RO-spike where ‘bame’ being RO is now the best option for the theologian enlightened by Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard – I really enjoyed and appreciated the first four chapters and think they can stand on their own without agreeing with chapter 5. In chapter 5 Smith gives a proposal that the emerging church be RO and brings a really great film, ‘Whale Rider’ as his back up. I will admit to having a prejudice against RO because to me it is more like theological BO, really old and musky. I decided to read a little on RO before getting harsh on it, so if you have suggestions leave them (Andrew…..). But for now I recommend reading the first four chapters, you can decide about the fifth yourself, and if polled on whether or not the emerging church should go RO I vote no…..but you don’t have to agree.

Soul Graffiti

Emergent folks often talk about following Jesus or living in the way of Jesus, but rarely is this phrase followed by story after story of a life in process of Christo-transformation. If you want to hear some of these stories and be challenged by them then go get Mark Scandrette’s new book ‘Soul Graffiti.’ The book is organized into four parts that follow the initial teaching of Jesus in gospel of Mark and the though Scandrette does occasionally give direct theological reflection, the book itself is story driven and oh so compelling. When you get done you will either be fired up that someone in the First World is actually identifiably Christian, which gives you hope for yourself or be irritated that you read a book that ended up challenging you to the core. Or both. Scandrette is a luring story-teller which enables his family and community in San Fran to untame Jesus and the gospel for the reader. He mentions taking the risk of being offended by Jesus and his teachings and his stories reveal to us just how offended we need to get, but also how rewarding a life on the way of Jesus can be. If you want to be encouraged, challenged, and have a stack of super sweet stories to bring up next time some one asks what following Jesus looks like the get it, read it, and do it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thinking Blogs

I got tagged by Andrew in the thinking blogger meme. My job is to tag 5 blogs that get my head moving. I guess I am not suppose to tag Andrew since he tagged me, but you should still check his out if you haven't.

1. Pop Theology: This is blog by a couple theology and culture Phd students. One of them, Ryan Parker is not only super-sweet but does actual theological reflection of film. The kind of reflection you won't take just to youth group, but to actual discussion with adults.

2. The Parish: This is Greg Horton's blog. It is always interesting and candid. He often says what I would say if I had the fortitude he did. The comments are also good on his blog.

3. Knightopia: Steve is not only a passionate christian but greatly underestimates his own ability to think theologically. Not only that but he is actually a thinker and nice at the same time, something I try to emulate.

4. Greensboro Abbey: Zach's journaling here is exciting and refreshing for many of us baptists who freak out when we read most baptist theology blogs. Though it's a new blog, it is very engaging for the reader.

5. Leron Shults: I always think when Leron speaks. After reading through Pannenberg's Systematic Theology last summer I have been attracted to his students who are working for a more postmodern theology and since he has a blog he is my favorite.

Alrighty there you have. Go, Read, Think

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

new conversation weeked update

here. Mary McClintock Fulkerson is joining the conversation and more.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Christology and Omnipotence

So I haven’t been ignoring Christology, just trying to figure out what to say next that doesn’t presume too much. I came up with a list of issues that I wrestle with and thought I might set them out here and try to cast a general framework for my thinking. No idea what will come next.

One of my deepest theological convictions is that omnipotence, in the God can do anything-anywhere-anytime sense, is one of the biggest theological errors of the church. It shows up most any place, but a number of important questions are raised in Christology if you can’t envision God being omnipotent and the Abba of Jesus at the same time. The power of God is much more than an abstract issue in my mind, because religious people tend to imitate their understanding of God (on their best days) and if God sets the world right through coercive power and force it is logical or at least pragmatic for followers of God to do so. I could go on here, but will save my anti-empire spill for later. The point for me is that if God is relational love, then a reconciled creation can not be accomplished by the force of divine will. Any way, here are some Christology issues that need to be looked at if you are against an imperialist incarnation. If you have more ideas, questions, or issues to discuss holla at me. If you want to get ill on heretic go see Zach who is talking about homosexuality. Everyone knows it’s much more “in” to condemn heretics for their view of sexuality and not Christology.

Incarnation without Invasion: I am generally wary of describing the incarnation in a way that the initiator, should it not be God, sound more like the description of a military invasion.

Biology and Cosmology of Baby Jesus: Just how did the conception, birth, and coming of the Christ happen? My goal is to use the phrases “seminal logos” and “God sperm” as many times as possible, because it still makes me giggle.

Prophecy, Prediction, and Fulfillment: How could a Messiah be prophesied about, it actually be Jesus, and God not plan out history? That questions just makes me shiver if no other reason than I may have gone through a period in middle school where I used Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” to witness to a Jewish friend. Sorry Raphael, you tolerated a bit of religious presumptuousness from me, stayed friends, and laid hands on me at my ordination. (Raphael is the handsome Hebrew in the picture with Alecia and I from my ordination service.)

Resurrection without Coercion: I think it is possible but I am not sure what I would do if it wasn’t so this may be a spectacle in theological projecting. I know Corbin (if he has the internet yet after leaving me in Winston-Salem) will let me know the error of my ways.


This summer I am interning with the local baptist association and their church plants. One of my jobs is writing up a brief description of a potential emerging community that could be used to help explain it to church people who may not know anything about the emergent movement so that they have some idea what they are supporting. I came up with a couple points and here is the first. If you have any ideas for being more clear feel free to share. Yes, I do know it is not really possible to describe an emerging community when it doesn't exist. I am just trying to get some kind of community vision guide together to hopefully firm up support. Enjoy.

Christocentric Community: The story of Jesus’ life, ministry, cross, resurrection, and active presence through the Spirit is the center piece of the community. As it develops it will begin with the story of Jesus, because in Christ we come to know who God is, God’s desire for creation, and the world’s future in God. First and foremost the community is living in the way of Jesus. Three parts of the ministry of Jesus will serve as guideposts to Christocentric life in the community: mysticism, mission, and message.
1. Mysticism. The story of Jesus reveals a world that God has created and in which God is actively present and working. Jesus lived and practiced the presence of God, whom he knew intimately as Abba, and this experience transformed his message and empowered his mission. An emerging community would be intentional on creating space for the Spirit of God to come in surprising and intimate ways. In a culture that is spiritual but not religious the followers of Jesus should actively proclaim and practice the Abba-intimate mysticism of Jesus.
2. Mission. For an emerging community there is an identification of the mission of Jesus with the mission of God. Jesus proclaimed and brought the presence of the kingdom of God. He also empowered and sent his disciples to do same. For this reason the kingdom of God is the most important theological concept for understanding the work of church. This community will intentionally focus itself on the mission of God and seek to participate. Doing so means that the community will be externally focused, people driven, and seek healing and reconciliation.
3. Message. Jesus is not just the one who made God present in a dynamic and mystical way, nor is he just the one who proclaimed the mission of God for the world, but Jesus himself was the message. His message was not simply preached but embodied. Jesus, the Word of God, is more than words and so the emerging community will witness to the message of God through embodiment. Every media and every relationship can become a spirit-filled medium for revelation and transformation of God. Recognizing this means the message of the community is more than words and doctrine but an invitation to experience the presence of God and embody the way of Jesus.