Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
One of the podcasts uploaded is a "conversation" at last fall's SBL conference between Jones, New Testament Scholar Scot McKnight and author Diana Butler Bass (all three are emergents, which raises the question as to why the SBL hosts conversations only among those already enmeshed in the movement but I digress).
Bass is a strong proponent of the so-called "mainline revival." I have yet to see such a "revival", in fact, the last time I had lunch with a Methodist D.S., he confessed that all of his churches were stagnating or dying. He didn't have one growing church, but again, I digress.
Jones, on the other hand, believes that the bureaucracies behind the main line denominations are killing their own churches. Bass jumped all over Jones insisting that all she sees is vibrant life returning to the mainline churches.
I'm with Jones. As a former Methodist Pastor, I chewed more than a few Tums dealing with the endless (and useless) paperwork, committees, etc. Jones is right that bureaucracies typically stand in the way of the Gospel rather than facilitating its growth.
Ironically, Jones is a political moderate-liberal which means he trusts bureaucracies to take care of the nation's poor and the world's problems but just not a local church or seminary. Does anyone other than me see a disconnect?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
It is impossible for me (and possibly anyone 40 and under with a sense of humor) to see President Bush and not think of Will Ferrell doing George Bush (remember "strategery!") and last night I think I would have preferred Ferrell to the endless, forgettable laundry list of items doled about by the President during his last State of the Union address.
I had hoped that the President would rise to the occasion and give a spirited rally cry for freedom in the Middle East and a timeline for energy independence but what we got was a boring hour of "gimme, gimme, gimme" and "don't, don't, don't."
It is obvious that Bush realizes that history will judge him by the war in Iraq as it was THE focus of the speech. Much to the left's chagrin, the war is going very well even in the jaundiced eyes of the The New York Times and The Washington Post. All that aside, I wish Bush had actually spent nearly all of the speech on the war instead of diluting it with a check list of programs that have no hope of passing within the next year.
I speak as a strong supporter of the war who has several close friends in Iraq right now (shout out to David French who is serving on the Iraq-Iran border!) and tried to volunteer for the war on terror myself (I will admit, much to my embarrassment, that I was told that I was too old and had suffered too many health problems to serve). During the last few years (and last night), Bush had the opportunity to convince the world that there is a world war going on between radical Muslims but, once again, he blew it.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
When I was an emergent Christian I believed that the modern evangelical church was: boring; out-of-touch; shallow; entertainment driven; Biblically illiterate; materialistic; etc.
Now that I have left the emergent village idiots behind I still believe that the modern evangelical church stinks and for all of the reasons listed above.
The emergent movement was born partially out of a rebellion against the complacency of the modern evangelical church. Indeed many, if not most, of all the early emergent leaders were lapsed evangelicals who felt malnourished by 40 days of experiencing God by praying the prayer of Jabez, etc. I was, and am, one of those starving evangelicals. Initially the hope was to reform the modern evangelical church but, like most reform movements, the emerging church's antagonism helped create a deep shift between the movement and the institution it sought to reform possibly producing an irreconcilable gulf. Years ago, I published an article about Luther's over caustic approach to reform and what we can learn from it. Unfortunately, no one seems to have learned anything.
All that aside, the emerging church is right to criticize the modern evangelical church as a hollow shell of what Jesus envisioned. The emergents diagnosis is correct but their prescribed method of treatment is lacking. Why? More on that later my friends.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Also, following the Wink/Bell/emergent argument, while Hitler and the Axis powers rolled across the world and slaughtered Jews, we should've all have just held hands and sang prom songs until Adolf and Benito got all teary eyed and we shared a great big hug!
This is just an example of the poor thinking of many leaders of the emerging/emergent movement who are Machiavellian in their approach and all but stick their fingers in their ears and hum when challenged. After a while, I just didn't care to hang at the cool kids table if that meant leaving my brain at the door.
BUT, the emerging church does have its strengths. What could they possibly be? Stay tuned my friends.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The church was founded by Rob Bell, the son of a federal judge, graduate of Wheaton College & Fuller Theological Seminary and a former Chicago area alt. indie band leader.
After graduating from Fuller with, by his own admission, a less than stellar GPA, Bell took a job with a large Calvary Chapel (5000+) in Grand Rapids. After a few years, Calvary, under the guidance of Dr. Ed Dobson, was forced to turn crowds away from their services. The elders decided to plant a church that would target the ever elusive Gen-Xer's and Gen-Y'ers. The church launched in February 1999 with roughly 1000 people. Nine years later the church boasts roughly 11,000 attendees per week.
Bell had been greatly influenced by New Testament scholar N.T. Wright as well as the narrative theology movement he encountered at Fuller via scholars like Miroslav Volf, James McClendon and Nancy Murphy. Bell's creative preaching steeped in innovative theological trends like the New Perspective on Paul coupled with an alt rock praise band and thousands in attendance gave hope to scores of young seminary students engaged in the emerging movement who hated K-Love, khaki slacks and the purpose driven anything!
Bell and many other young pastors were even more emboldened by a book that hit shelves during my last year of seminary, A New Kind of Christian by Brian McClaren.
McLaren's book is a fictional dialogue between Dan, a burned out evangelical pastor, and NEO a teacher who has embraced a postmodern, postconservative, narrative approach to the faith. NEO announces the death of traditional evangelicalism with its emphasis on right belief and introduces Dan to a gentler, kinder faith which emphasizes humility and social action.
The book became immensely popular especially among seminarians and Bible college students. McLaren, a fairly gifted writer, introduced difficult theological concepts like those set forth by Hans Frei and George Lindbeck in a reader friendly format that captivated young Christians hungry for depth and starved by most program heavy but discipleship light evangelical churches.
The book spawned a trilogy and elevated McLaren to the forefront of the emerging movement.
McLaren's book wasn't the only work that added fuel to the proverbial fire. Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, a deconstructionist approach to the faith has sold more than 100,000 copies.
The book documents Miller's move away from a college student in a traditional Reformed Southern Baptist church in Houston, Texas to a struggling writer assisting a missional church plant in Portland, Oregon and that church's struggle to reach college students at Reed College, a venue notorious for its hostility to Christianity.
Miller initially distanced himself from the emerging movement because he was much more theologically conservative than Bell or McLaren. For example, Miller listed C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and Tim Keller as a few of his heroes.
Yet, there is no doubt that Miller's paradoxical embrace of conservative theology and liberal politics captivated the emerging movement.
I personally delighted in all of these occurrences, so why do I now regret them as much as my high school yearbook photos? More later.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Some time during the early mid-90's (no one can seem to agree on the date) Leadership Network, a non-profit church think tank, began to pull young pastors together from around North America for conferences focused on reaching Generation X (my generation). Among these young pastors were twentysomethings Dan Kimball (to the left) from California, Chris Seay from Texas and Mark Driscoll from Washington state. Dan Kimball (or Chris Seay or Mark Driscoll...no one can agree on it) stole a title from an old book and pronounced that these young pastors were advance scouts for the emerging church. The title stuck.
Later, an organization was formed solely for the purpose of connecting young pastors. The initial director was Doug Pagitt (right) who later brought on Tony Jones and an ex-hippy, ex-literature professor, ex-60's Jesus movement writer named Brian McLaren on to what was then called Terra Nova (Jone's idea) and then Emergent.
At some point in the late '90's, Mark Driscoll withdrew from the organization. Driscoll was upset with his friends Pagitt, Jones and McLaren for embracing innovative theological ideas like the open view of God as advocated by Clark Pinnock, Terence Fretheim, Greg Boyd and others.
This is about the time yours truly hit seminary in West Texas.
I initially sided with Pagitt, Jones and McLaren. Why do I now consider those three to be harmful to the church? How did Emergent ever grow beyond a few small conferences attended by seminary nerds like me? Stay tuned, kiddies.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Happy New Year!
Finishing up the Alpha & The Omega (i.e., the real Jesus then and now): According to Rev. 14 and 19, the exalted Jesus who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not look like the dude who changes your oil anymore but a holy figure who makes war on his opponents with the armies of heaven arrayed behind him and presides over hell itself!
Again, my point is that one's view of Jesus can skew their reading of Scripture. Jesus was not a skinny, sweet little guy in a robe who just wants us all to get along. According to his own cousin, he holds a winnowing fork in his hand and will send billions to eternal torment in hell. Jesus is the warrior-king of all creation who will destroy his opponents and allow wild beasts to gorge themselves on their flesh. This is the one you worship in church and pray to on bended knees and this is the one who will judge you one day according to what you have done (see Rev. 20:12), so turn from sin and get busy!