According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
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)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Letter of Welcome (April 2011)

by skinhead
April 16, 2011
revised March 26, 2012

Relevancy22 is an Emergent Christian blog and webjournal that is now ready for exploration and review. It is hoped that it can continue to develop as an Emergent Christian resource that may help in re-framing the many newer, theological trends that are being uncovered in post-modernday 21st Century Christianity. A journey that I started while being presently occupied with writing poetry and verse describing mine own personal narrative of apprehending the mysteries of God through story and insight.

But here, I must stop what I am doing and take the time to open up my heart and mind to a younger generation of Christians seeking direction, knowledge, inspiration and reconciliation to the many confusing voices presently being found in Christianity. For mine own Christian pilgrimage has been one that has been hard fought and hard won... and, it seems, much too often, and at too many significant times of my life. It has cost me time and money. It has created loss in my life. It has been inconvenient. It has been demanding. But it is something that I must now share of mine own experiences and journey - as both a mentor and fellow disciple of Christ.

For we are together found in this veil of life too often become a vast wilderness fraught with sin and dissension. Deceits and lies. False teachings and wasteful endeavors. A wilderness that at all times needs the guidance of God to lead us beyond its fastness to the highlands of God's own heart and mind that can show us the mis-directions and confusions of man-made arguments, futile religious endeavors, and misleading sincerity. I have been led by God to many good teachers of the Word and I have sat under some preachers that were undergoing the same significant change and growth that I was going through. Theirs was public. Mine, thankfully, was private. So that I understand, I think, what drove them to speak out expediently and prematurely. With a lack of clarity but from a heart filled with conviction.

Similarly, my Christian journey has been a pilgrimage where both practice and theology has been an exciting adventure - but not a place to settle in or defend, per se. My mind ever changes - if not easily nor with every cultural wind that blows - as a result of personal reflections and enlightened discoveries as I seek to become unbounded by my past and uncluttered from my past cultural entrenchment. And with these journeys have come some years of frustrations and personal quandaries. While at other times deep satisfaction and growth. Lately I have found myself in the mesmerizing and perplexing world of Emergent Christianity which for years has left me unable to explain until lately with the publication of Love Wins and the severe backlash of public opinion that I witness from Evangelical Christianity.

As a result, my  most recent theological explorations and considerations are giving rise to newer, more significant revelations to this present day's cultural movements and events. For it is at this time that I am come to a significant road that is both broad and narrow. One that must be explored carefully, diligently, prayerfully, with discernment, in fellowship and in hope. It is my wish to explore a type of Christianity that is less limiting and more free to discover God at work in this ever evolving world of ours. To remove the limitations of systematic theology and to go back to the roots of biblical theology. To remove the church's bounded philosophical mindsets and to propose a more unbounded way of thinking. To show the uselessness of debates when centered in hearts of fear and uncertainty, and not in trust and faith upon the Living God of Creation. To learn to re-learn. To reject ourselves as the only basis of truth. To become comfortable with not knowing. And overall, to live in the sublime wonder, thanksgiving and humility of the Christian faith as it was meant to be. Not as a carefully constructed series of formulaic creeds and religious statements devoid of life and blood, breath and soul. In all these areas Emergent Christianity promises the hope and freedom rightly expressed in the Christian faith.

So then, let us join this conversation together for it is my wish that this blog may serve as both resource and guide. And it is my desire to keep it updated enough to stimulate fresh thoughts and ideas that are provocative as well as inspirational. It is an emergent blog, but one of mine own flavor as it must be, as one who is in the process of leaving a conservative evangelical Christianity heritage. A heritage I deeply respect and am thankful for, but one that must be decisively move away from towards a more postmodernistic expression of Christianity known as Emergent Christianity.

May God's Peace be yours...



The Objectives of Relevancy22

- Relevancy22 is a neo-conservative (but non-liberal) Emergent Christian website

- Written to give insight into the general state of affairs of Christianity today

- Written to encourage reflection upon God's reality in the world today

- Written to encourage fellowship, devotion, missional witness, and community participation

- Is less sympathetic to systematic (or creedal) theology, esp. Calvinism (Arminianism has
   been used to counter its arguments)

- Is more focused on biblical theology (from which systematic and creedal theology derive)

- Is very focused on contemporary theology that takes both biblical and systematic theology
   and integrates it into modern day discussions for Christians and non-Christians alike

- Actively investigates cultural, philosophical and scientific trends

- Utilizes a variety of Emergent Christian voices to create a kind of Christian news journal

- Actively supports historical Christianity (unlike some Emergent sites) that finds value
   with remembering the past and appreciating the journey of traditional orthodoxy starting
   from the first century unto the present; while wishing to avoid repeating past sectarian, 
   Gnostic, and cultic errors

- Differs in culture and orientation from Evangelicalism. Though voicing the same concerns,
   Emergent Christianity approaches those areas from a different perspective that is less
   limiting and more open to cultural opinion

- Is actively engaged in showing the relevancy of God, and the centrality of Jesus, to the
   world's endeavors

- Is actively engaged in determining what Emergent Christianity is, and isn't

- Is actively engaged in voicing Emergent concerns, issues, topics and news

- Was written to journal my experience and current understanding of Emergent Christianity

- Was written to clear up the confusion that was found in Emergent Christianity's earlier
   versions of itself (late 1990s to 2011)

- Was developed to help this blogger write a deeper style of poetry sometimes called
   theo-poetry

- Is to be used more as an Emergent Christian reference site than as a personal journal
   or "blog"

- Should be read topically (however, a sequential reading will show this blogger's own
   personal development in each area listed on this blog)

- And generally, can be viewed as a personal commentary, written in prose, on various
   Christian subjects and topics



What is a PostConservative Evangelical?

Addendum
Let's call Emergent Christianity what it is and enough of the word games and positional theological hedging. Postmodernistic Christianity is emergent Christianity, not neo-evangelicalism, not postconservative, not progressive evangelicalsim. Be bold and be boldly willing to allow theology to breathe again! Let God be God who speaks to us without more labels, more "careful creedal statements", more anything! We are on a pilgrimmage. We can never stop exploring and trying to interpret this tremendous revelation that God gave to us of himself through his Son, his Spirit and his Word. It is never static but ever fluid and dynamic because God is and because we bear his image! Let us then journey together and be willing to change when we must, speak out when we should, and be ever humble in our walk, our knowledge, and our relation with the Godhead Three! Get involved with the conversation and stop sitting on the sidelines. We are in this together! Speak out!

- skinhead

(ps. Well done Roger. It'll be a privilege to walk with you on our pilgrimmage)

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Posted on April 13, 2011 by Roger Olson
http://rogereolson.com/2011/04/13/a-good-description-of-postconservative-evangelical/

I’ve begun reading a relatively new book (2010) by one Steven B. Sherman entitled Revitalizing Theological Epistemology: Holistic Approaches to the Knowledge of God (Cambridge, UK: James Clarke & Co.).

The author begins with my category “postconservative evangelical” and defines it thus (pgs 9-10):

“Basically, they [postconservative evangelicals] compose a loose coalition of thinkers who are seeking to facilitate a number of ‘beyond’ moves, theologically:
  1. beyond the agenda of the modernist/fundamentalist dichotomy toward what they see as a more holistic theology;
  2. beyond classical foundationalist epistemology toward alternative concepts of knowledge;
  3. beyond concentration on rationalism toward incorporating additional ways of knowing; 
  4. beyond inerrancy debates and concerns toward an instrumental use of scripture; 
  5. beyond academy-centered theologizing toward ecclesial and community-oriented thinking; 
  6. beyond gatekeeping on boundary-setting doctrinalism toward a generous orthodoxy with pietistic emphasis; and finally, 
  7. beyond what they view as a fixation on the concerns of modernity often motivated by a fear of liberalism, toward a more positive view and selective appropriation of postmodern insights.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The only addition I would make is that:

     8. “postconservative” does NOT mean “anti-conservative.”

“Post” added to a word does not indicate rejection but sublation. (Please don’t ask me to define sublation; look it up!)

Do Christians Exist?

How do we think of ourselves when we think of our Christianity and of ourselves as Christians? What does this thought or label imply to us? Does it fill us with humilty and brokenness? With contradiction and the understanding that it is only in Christ that we find our new identification? That without his filling, his presence, his being we are but unredeemed, sinful, empty vessels of the old humanity we had no desire to leave behind until we met Jesus. That Jesus has become our new humanity, who fills us with his divine essence, his love, mercy, grace, hope and peace. Who would destroy all of our sinful humanity, our hate and jealousies, wickedness and lies, selfishness and lusts. Even death itself. For the divine is now near through the person of the Christ and it is his resurrected life that fills us with newness and hope and re-definition.

skinhead

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http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/do-christians-exist

By George Elerick
April 12, 2011

Watch - "Why Christians Don’t Exist" – George Elerick from Bubble Up TV on Vimeo - http://vimeo.com/22002741

cogito, ergo sum’ ubi cogito, ibi non sum – Lacan

once you label me, you negate me – Kierkegaard

There is no such thing as Christian.

Let me explain. Philosopher Rene Descartes once posited the renowned phrase, “I think therefore I am”, and more recently Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan reformed this philosophy by adding that "Where I think 'I think, therefore I am', that is where I am not." Whatever is the representation of something else is negation of that very reality. Theology tends to be the fantasy behind our representations of God, so the fantasy claims to be true, all the while is still itself, nothing more than a fantasmagorical spectre of reality.

Essentially what we think isn’t who we are, rather what we think is itself an element of fantasy and our beliefs are framed by this fantasy rather than our beliefs framing the fantasy itself. Some Christians define themselves by certain criteria of belief or doctrinal adherence, but this itself is not a Christian. Lacan takes this notion a step further and proclaims that our alliance to what is represented by our thoughts & definitions are not true about ourselves.

The very claim that we are any type of Christian is the negation of that very claim.

The reality is that the only way to discover Christianity is to dismantle the perverse historical narrative we have adopted as the very framework for our identity. The very idea of ‘Christian’ must itself come to a place ideological atheism to re-discover itself in light of its inherent negation.

Christianity isn’t meant to fulfill us, it’s meant to remind us of our lack, [that] the thing we desire isn’t fullness. There is tendency to define fullness in some sort of heavenly end or utopian socialist ideal where everyone will get along and we will forget the sins behind us.

Christianity is meant to scandalize our very existence. It’s meant to destroy the very presumptious foundations of our identities. This is the very place of discovery we see Jacob come to when he wrestles with the Angel.

The Angel represents God, the transcendental signifier, and it is only when Jacob chooses to wrestle with a representation of the divine that he begins to find who he himself is meant to be. Christianity isn't meant to be a faith of acceptance, but a religion of ideological denial and self-nihilism. When I use the word ‘I’ I am aligning a part of myself with the concept I choose to follow such a claim. For example, when I claim ‘I believe that the sky is blue’ – I am making an objective statement about something I believe in.

‘I’ then am in two places, ‘I’ as a subjective (experiential) person am making a objective truth claim. These are the very things we must wrestle with when encountering a representation of God. We must not merely wrestle with the theology of God, but with the very representations that these theologies claim, and even at times, we must be willing to come to a point of nihilistic optimism, which I claim is the hope that something much more positive will eventually take the place of the theological idea we gave up. Jacob discovers this, when he in a moment of full de-constitution, encounters another reality where Israel is his new identity and Jacob is no more. Being a Christian is this very encounter suspended in infinite animation. The core of Christianity and the representations within must die so resurrection can embody itself with those kernels and allow for new transformation.

It is not we who embody Christ but rather Christ who embodies up.

It is not that we embody truth but rather truth that embodies. It is not that the we exist in the saviour but rather the saviour exists in all. Exampel: Paul and the new humanity: Jacob is attempting to embody something he is not; he is claiming something not true about himself and the divine injunction is to wrestle with this. It is in the grappling that we began to discover the inherent emergence of our identity already present in us. To be a Christian is to allow the Christ element to emerge from a place of nowhere.

Paul expands this dichotomy of embodiment by explaining that the second Adam is Christ (Romans 5:12-6:5). The name Adam is of Hebrew origin which is fundamentally defined as the plural of mankind, or modernised humanity. Paul is doing something revolutionary and inclusive here, he is making the assertion that Christ is embodied in humanity. That the whole of humanity already is embodied with the attributes of Christ. Jesus claims the similar idea when he utters the words, ‘The Kingdom of God is near’, the Hebrew word for near means within or inside. Jesus doesn’t presume that people have to earn this or even attempt to label themselves something else, he simply assumes that the Christ element is already within them. This is why the Christ element is so revolutionary because it is something already true of humanity: past, present and future.

George Elerick is an author and speaker. Find more about him at theloverevolution.org.uk



Justice or Mercy? What if You Had to Pick One?

http://lovinggodcenter.blogspot.com/2011/01/justice-or-mercy-what-if-you-had-to.html

Posted by Julie Ackerman Link on Saturday, January 08, 2011

Last night Jay and I watched a Dateline program about Brooks Douglass, the son of a Baptist preacher, and his long road to forgiveness. Douglass has produced a movie about the journey that started with the murder of his parents and near-fatal injuries inflicted on him and his sister.


The title of the movie, "Heaven's Rain," is taken from one of my favorite passages of Shakespeare, a section from "Merchant of Venice," a play that is seldom studied or performed because some consider it anti-Semitic.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

When I was searching for the Shakespeare quotation on my computer, I came across an article written shortly after 9/11. I am using the quote without attribution because some consider the author to be anti-Islamic.* In it he says,

Judaism integrates the qualities of strict justice and mercy,
in harmony and in proper measure.
Christianity took only the quality of mercy
while Islam took the quality of strict justice.

I am a Christian, yet I do not consider the comment anti-Christian. I don't take offense at it because it's a position worth considering. Is it true? Is he correct? Is this what Christians have done? Is this what Christians should do?

He's right in claiming that Judaism requires both justice and mercy:

Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion. (Zechariah 7:9)

But is he right in claiming that Christians practice only mercy?

I have trouble finding evidence to support that.

But how about the question, Should Christians always choose mercy?

This question leads to one of my favorite Bible verses. In the words of the half-brother of Jesus,

Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.
Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13)

According to this, mercy does have a superior position in the Christian faith. But the Christian Bible does not negate the importance of justice. Jesus said,

Woe to you,
teachers of the law and Pharisees,
you hypocrites!
You give a tenth of your spices —
mint, dill and cummin.
But you have neglected
the more important matters of the law —
justice, mercy and faithfulness.
You should have practiced the latter,
without neglecting the former.
(Matthew 23:23)

The truth is, none of us can practice our faith perfectly, but I can't imagine anyone surviving in a "pick-one" society. To separate justice from mercy is like using the sword on the baby brought to Solomon's court. Death is the only possible outcome.

Justice or mercy? Perhaps the problem is not that we practice one and not the other but that we have a warped concept of both and thus practice neither one well.

To figure out the proper balance, we can't rely on either emotion or intelligence. Only as we increase in love for God (with heart, soul, mind, and strength) and for one another will we gain the wisdom to balance mercy and justice.

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*Those who want to know the author's identity should be able to find it easily enough. I just don't want certain other things he has said to detract from this statement, which I think raises a question worth considering.