"Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world." - Todd Littleton
"I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see." - Anon
"Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all." - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
"Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut
"Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals." - Jim Forest
"People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone." - Anon
"... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all." - R.E. Slater
"An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst." - R.E. Slater
"Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics." - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
"Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated." - Emil Brunner
"Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh" means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Emerging Church, Version 2.0


According to Ryan Bolger, from Fuller Theological Seminary, and Steve Knight of Knightopia.com, we are involved in a game-changer known as "social networking." This is no surprise, actually, when considering tech sites such as Facebook and Xbox game sites that are involving users in personal interaction. But Ryan makes an astute observation when declaring that churches should better involve their fellowships in a personal, participatory nature, in all phases of its ministries.

Also, in an end-of-year post I made a number of observations about the Emergent Church from a personal perspective entitled "Becoming Emerging, or Emergent, Christians." This article may help in thinking through what Emergent Christianity has been from a personal perspective and what its version 2.0 form could become. It should be quite exciting to see in the years to come!

Finally, according to Bolger, we may now say that we are no longer within a postmodern era but a post-postmodern, or participatory era, or even an authenticising era of flux and change which the Church must step up into and figure out how to do ministry, worship, instruction and community in the opening stages of the 21st Century. Interesting. I was just getting adjusted to trying to think in postmodern terms!

R.E. Slater
January 2, 2011
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by Steve Knight
December 11, 2011

In an op-ed piece in this Sunday’s New York Times, former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner describes his feelings as he faces the holiday season as a religious “none,” as in “none of the above.” Weiner is currently “unaffiliated,” but he writes, “We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day. We have a dog in this hunt.”

That hopeful note is followed by a description of the kind of religion Weiner would like to see in the world (and particularly the United States):
“We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.”
I would like to suggest to Weiner — were we sitting together at Starbucks or Caribou having a conversation over a cup of joe — that for more than a decade, the emerging missional church movement has been seeking to agitate for and begin to construct such a path. My friends and colleagues who have been the architects and thought leaders of this movement may not be so bold as to claim that title or status as “the Steve Jobs of religion,” but I’d like to be bold enough to say that Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, and Peter Rollins (among others) have each, in their own way, played this role to some extent.*

Besides acknowledging the Jobs-like work that has already been done, I’m beyond ecstatic to hear this clarion call from a self-described “None” for “a religious operating system” that will serve both the Nones/Unaffiliated and the rest of us. This is what fuels the work I’m doing with Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation and TransFORM Network.

And I’d like to suggest that faith leaders — from across denominations and traditions — need to begin reflecting deeply on this idea of participation. What Weiner calls “highly interactive” and “experimental.” It’s essentially the same message that Landon Whitsitt wrote about earlier this year in his book Open Source Church, and it’s an idea that Dr. Ryan Bolger, from Fuller Theological Seminary, has been playing with recently, as well (see video below).

In an interview with Luther Seminary, Bolger suggests** that we are now living in a post-postmodern era that is characterized primarily by the participatory nature of the Internet and technology culture that has shaped it:

Bolger says, “The shift from postmodernity to participatory culture means people find their identity through what they create as opposed to maybe what they consume. … Our churches are still structured in such a way that we do it to them, not inviting them to create worship with us. So, if that’s the case, there’s really no space for people who’ve been formed by our participatory culture in our churches.”

Bolger’s provocative comments, coupled with Whitsitt’s book and Weiner’s op-ed in the Times, beg the question: Who will create the religious communities of the future that will engage participatory people?

That’s a revolution I want to be a part of.

* Yes, I’m very aware that these are all white males, and that has been the legacy of the first 10 years of the emerging missional church movement. The next 10-20 years promise to be far more rich and diverse, with broader participation from women and people of color as this leveling of hierarchies provides greater opportunity for developing platforms for greater influence. Stay tuned …

** Forgive me, Dr. Bolger, if I’m putting words in your mouth! I think my interpretation of what is said in the video interview is accurate, but it is my interpretation and may not reflect the actual views held by Dr. Bolger. In other words, results may vary.





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For additional reference see - Becoming an Emerging, or Emergent, Christian

 
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2011 Books of the Year

Jesus Creed Books of the Year
January 1, 2012

An article in The Atlantic on writers and their books, an article well worth your read, sets the right tone for our annual list of Books of the Year. That article in The Atlantic appeared on one of the days I was clearing out my library. I’ve already packed up more than fifteen boxes of books — and some of these boxes are big honkin’ boxes — and probably have another fifteen to go. I came to this conclusion: for nearly every book that gets put on a shelf one has to be taken off. But this post is about Books of the Year.

These are my choices, and I have no claim to have seen even all of the most important books or to have read adequately in all fields, so go ahead and make your own recommendations. I’m woefully unread this year on Old Testament books, so nominate some books.

At the end of this post (after the jump) I will announce my Book of the Year.


Reference:
J.J. Collins, D.C. Harlow, The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
Timothy George, gen. ed., The Reformation Commentary on the Bible

New Testament:
N.T. Wright, The Kingdom New Testament
James D.G. Dunn, Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels
Morna Hooker, Holiness and Mission
J. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy, Justification: Five Views
Craig Keener, Miracles
Rodney Reeves, Spirituality according to Paul

Theology:
Hans Boersma, Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry
M. Volf, Allah: A Christian Response
Theresa Latini, The Church and the Crisis of Community
Roger Olson, Against Calvinism, and Michael Horton, For Calvinism
Alan Padgett, As Christ Submits to the Church

Missiology:
The Cape Town Commitment

Ministry:
Eugene Peterson, Pastor: A Memoir. [Kris and I were gone for a week and I haven't "checked" my list for some time, but somehow I forgot to put this book on the original list. This book was my rival to Christian Smith's book for Book of the Year.]
Kara Powell, Sticky Faith
John Dickson, Humilitas
The Collected Sermons of Fred Craddock

Church History:
Michael McClymond, Gerald McDermott, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards
John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

Science and Faith:
Richard F. Carlson and Tremper Longman III, Science, Creation and the Bible
Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith
Deborah B. and Loren D. Haarsma, Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (This is a new version of their book reviewed a few years ago, now aimed at a general Christian audience.)

Current Trends:
D. Fitch, The End of Evangelicalism
Brad Wright, Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World
Christian Smith, Lost in Transition

World Issues:
Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church
Lee Camp, Who is My Enemy? Questions Christians Must Face about Islam and Themselves

Controversy:
Rob Bell, Love Wins


Jesus Creed Book of the Year

Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. In spite of being panned by a few notable evangelicals, Smith is one of America’s finest scholars of evangelicalism, knows theology, and has poked populist evangelicalism in the eye — both eyes in fact. He has laid down a challenge that must be met: How to read the Bible in a way that does not lead to pervasive pluralism but leads to conclusions on which we can agree enough to say “Thus saith the Lord.” Until that happens, we’ve got too many lone rangers claiming “Thus saith the Lord.” What good is it to say we’ve got the very Word of God if we can’t agree on what the Word says?