Archive for March, 2008

Why We’re Not Emergent? An Inviation to Kevin & Ted

A few weeks ago, my friend Wayne Jacobsen stayed with us. It was a great time of fellowship and we talked about all sorts of things. Our chats kept circling back, though, to the emerging church conversation, and why it seemed so important to me to express my spiritual journey in ’emerging’ ways. I told him that it wasn’t, not really–that I’ve been on a journey in, through, and toward a Christ-transformed reality before I began naming it in this way, and will likely be if and when this way of articulating things ceases to be helpful. But right now, that I do find it helpful. This was fine to Wayne–he really wasn’t trying to nit-pick–but there was still some dissonance I think, between what I mean by ’emergent’ and by what he means as ‘relational Christianity‘ (which is itself a label, but I digress…) He’s not the only bright person I esteem asking questions of emergent Christianity.

223 Emergent CoverThis weekend (amidst relocating closer to our house church community) I’ve been reading Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), a lively-but-respectful critique of emergent faith expressions written by two Reformed guys. As I’ve mentioned before, I was Reformed once, a PCA assistant worship and ‘small group’ leader. But it was always a less-than-comfortable fit; I never fit into the conservative Calvinist mold, was rarely excited by the things that excited them. Don’t get me wrong–finding joy and delight in God as the center for living was (and is!) right up my alley–it just felt like their desire was continually thwarted by their reductionistic methodologies; at the end of the day, I found more spiritual nourishment and guidance from the Catholic contemplative writers.

In intervening years, being ‘Young, Restless, & Reformed‘ has become all the more in vogue among passionate semi-intellectual Christian 20-somethings–looks like I really missed the bandwagon! What I like about Why We’re Not Emergent is that the authors–one a pastor, one a sportswriter, barely out of their 20s themselves–seem to be aware of the fact that ridiculous groupie-ism isn’t only present among some emergent leaders, but amidst Reformed demigods as well. So far (I’m about 80 pages in), they kind of smirk at the John Piper, DA Carson, CJ Mahaney, RC Sproul, Mark Driscoll, etc., groupies, and some of the “Reformed cool” that’s developed. This helps me take in the even-handedness of their critique.

What I’ve enjoyed most about the book so far is its rexamination of the journey/pilgrimage motif, one that’s been around at least since ancient Catholic pilgrims and popularized in recent years by we ’emergent’ types, but perhaps best known (in the Protestant world at least) from the Calvinist pen of John Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress. Now PP is not my fave–sorry–but I get it. And I get what Kevin and Ted are saying–it’s not only that the journey itself matters, but the destination itself has gotta matter too. Pilgrim (the protagonist) was indeed making progress toward life in God, and we can too. I still think Kevin and Ted need to listen to emerging/postmodern voices that exalt the value of the journeying itself–it very much resonates with Jesus’ injunctions to live in the present moment, consider lilies, and all that jazz–that the journey itself is important is biblically-rooted, thank you very much. But it’s okay to have some sort of end in mind too–like the apostle Paul, finishing that race of his.

Some of the book makes me exhausted reading it, quite frankly–during one point, I felt physically nauseous while turning its pages. And this comes right in the midst of what I like. Namely, their absolute certainty that because there the emergent conversation might be ill in places, their tradition (in this case Reformed, but it could be written by virtually anyone in virtually any tradition) held the cure lock, stock & barrel. It started with David Well’s introduction, which I found to be supremely arrogant (he even admitted that this was a possibility)–likening Calvinist doctrinal revelation to several-centuries-old buildings in Hungary that outlasted the 20th-century Communist-built buildings, Wells articulated the idea of a changeless foundationalism that is the Gospel itself, which will outlast the vain ideas of men–Communism and, apparently, the emerging church.

But back to Ted and Kevin. They really want us to see that The Journey has a Point to it, and that God’s self-disclosure in Jesus really does count as intelligible communication, therefore we should approach the postmodern skepticism of the efficacy of language with skepticism. They’re mad at what they see as a “just give me Jesus” mentality within emergent circles preferring “Jesus alone” over “beliefs about Jesus” (something I see far more of in house church and charismatic circles than in emergent ones per se, by the way), and they want us to esteem Scripture’s inspiration in the way that they do. And they don’t like the agnosticism-is-chic trend they feel is developing where not believing is cooler than believing.

Okay…points well taken. Really. I’ll think about all of this, brothers. But seriously, you can’t expect me to buy contemporary American conservative Calvinism as the answer. Been there, bought that. Got a refund. F’r instance, y’all’s critique of an aimless journey got me thinking and praying and wondering…but not in Reformed terms. Specifically, I’m wanting to put Dallas Willard and Richard Foster in conversation with James Fowler and Ken Wilber–to see what stages contemporary apprenticeship to Jesus would look like. I don’t know if anyone would be pleased with this (you, my Reformed friends, might cry heresy, and my more pomo peeps might find generating conceptual development maps as too dang modern), but I for one would be fascinated…and would be willing to give a couple years of my life to following this out in practice.

At another point, in seeking to reassert an absolutist view of Scripture (after quite rightly acknowledging that Christians everywhere love and esteem the Bible, regardless of the confessional language they adorn it with–or don’t), they attempt to call us back to a point of clarity, asserting “The Bible settles our disputes.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m sorry, brothers, if you feel like I’m about to be a postmodern (or worse yet, lib-er-al) cliche by stating that the Bible as such as never settled any disputes, and in fact often functions (as our Quaker brethren have stated) like a “paper Pope” upon which we hang our most passionate beliefs and ugliest prejudices. I treasure Holy Writ, but the only way I feel safe with it is amidst conversation with caring friends (aka by some as ‘the faith community’) where the guidance of Holy Spirit is sought and acknowledged in our midst. To me this is the only sane approach to some very volatile writings. For a pointy-headed explication of this very same idea, I’d check out fellow Reformer Kevin J. Vanhoozer‘s The Drama of Doctrine.

I hope it comes across loud and clear: While it’s not for me, I don’t wish to silence the Reformed voice. (I enjoy Tim Keller and Steve Brown and Shayne Wheeler and am looking forward to good things from Reformergent–may their tribe increase!) In fact, Ted and Kevin, I’d say your published foray makes you official participants in (dahn-dahn-dahn) the conversation. So congrats…for taking a respectful (and not shrill) tone, you’re now in this, whether you’d like to be or not. 🙂 And as an editor with The Ooze, I officially invite you to submit an article or two, and commit a little time to monitoring our discussion boards for a couple of weeks to share and converse. We’ll give you face time side-by-side with the infamous (tee-hee) Spencer Burke, ’cause he may be heretical, but at least he’s hospitable. Whaddaya say, brothers?

Related: Two interactions from Dan Kimball and Daryl Dash and Andrew Jones

Update: Official website

We’re Looking for a Few Good Bloggers!

The Ooze, the Web’s most prolific ‘emerging church & friends’ website, is looking for 50 participants in a unique partnership with quality publishers. You will be mailed books for blog review – no more than two per month – free of charge. These are books on culture, theology, church history, justice, faith & science, global issues, spirituality, novels–you name it. The Ooze pre-screens each title brought up for our consideration to ensure you that it is a book of singular distinction.

Interested? Well, if you’re an off-the-beaten-path, thoughtful blogger (you don’t have to identify yourself with ‘emerging church’ conversation per se, though it’s certainly fine if you do) who enjoys blogging about the above-mentioned topics, and you have a Technorati authority of 40 or higher, you’re an ideal candidate. Just send me your name, blog URL, authority ranking, and snail-mail address to zoecarnate [at] theooze.com. (Please do not leave this info in the Comments section of this post.) Then I’ll send you a more detailed email as to what this entails and we can go from there. Feel free to post this invitation on your own blog as well. Thanks for your interest!

Mike Morrell

PS: This TheOoze blogger partnership is primarily intended for bloggers in the US and Canada–alas. But if you’re elsewhere and you have a readership that will make me just pass out upon witnessing it, let me know and we will consider you…just ask Andrew Jones.

Free Taoist Music

…for those of you into that sort of thing.//consciousevolution.com/metamorphosis/0404/grfx/C-Tao.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Download here.

HT: Sarx

Some on Christ, the Eternal Tao

PoMoMusings on pluralism

Meet CIA Intelligence Director Michael Morell

“If the Central Intelligence Agency screws up another weapons-of-mass-destruction report, we’ll know exactly where to lay the blame: Michael Morell.”

What is this?

A friend of mine (who may or may not wish to be identified!) sent me word that someone from his alma mater and my near-namesake has just gotten a promotion at the ‘ol Central Intelligence Agency. Apparently this fellow has been some kind of CIA Deputy Director for some years now, and is movin’ on up. And this is causing all-American patriots to rejoice.

It’s fascinating to me because in my younger days I saw myself as either a costumed super-hero or an intelligence agent. (I’m talking teenage years, mind you. Though the thought of donning colorful long underwear or spandex still has its appeal…) My life as a friend and follower of Jesus has caused me to choose a dramatically different relationship to power, so seeing headlines like these are kind of like looking at “the path that could have been.” I have no regrets for my life-trajectory thus far. I hope the best for Mr. Morell as well.

 

THIS Just In – UFO in Tampa

When I was a teenager, I was way into UFOs and conspiracies. I’d go talk to abductees at Dragon*Con, I’d listen read books and magazines. I’d theorize and write stories about them. Then, toward the very end of the fascination, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I actually saw one, a large silent orange thing, gliding parallel to the major road she lived off of. It was eerie and breathtaking. I wanted to get into the car and follow it, but Jasmin was too scared.

I wish I could have recorded it–if I had, maybe I would have caught something like these folks did during a mass sighting near Tampa, Florida.

This Just In: Robots Can Read Our Minds

…taking a break from the Future Headlines for a moment. This one is real.

Hark! The Singularity Is Near!

(Guess we’re living in an age of spiritual machines…)

HeadSpace Virtual Commute adds Lunar Line

Continuing a series of “What If” futures incasting headlines for the world of 2043…

HeadSpace Virtual Commute adds Lunar Line

Top-Traded Immaterial Office Firm Now Lands on Moon

NEW DEL SOL—Virgin Milky Way avatar Richard Branson (III) announced a landmark deal with virtual holoconference provider Headspace today, a 3.5 year exclusive contract to extend their telecommute line to Virgin’s New Del Sol base on the expanding ‘dark side’ of the moon. This came as welcome news to the sagging HeadSpace, who, after their 2018 near-monopoly on virtual workspace solutions, has sagged behind upstart Virtual Kosmos these past twenty months. “They just couldn’t compete with virtual time uplinks,” an NBC Knowbot told us. “But one thing V.K. has never been able to do is transmit to the moon. That HeadSpace has been able to do this is—if you’ll excuse the pun—a Thoth-send.” [Continued, C.381]

 

 

 


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  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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