Posts Tagged 'Christ'

“I Don’t Want to be Part of Any Jesus Revolution Without a Perichoretic Dance” – Why We Need Both Jesus Manifestoes

Frank Viola and Len Sweet’s book  Jesus Manifesto remains in the Amazon Top Ten today, and my interview with them yesterday has stirred a lot of interesting conversation. Among conversation partners is my friend Jeff Straka, who airs some honest thoughts and frustrations that inspire me to say something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time. Jeff wonders:

While Brian McLaren has endorsed both these authors’ books in the past, his name is glaringly (to me, anyway) missing from the list on this new book. Nor did I find any endorsements from other names considered more solidly in the emergent movement (and not just in “conversation” with). Am I reading too much into this or is this shaping into a “spy vs. spy” manifesto?

Also, are the subtitle words “the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus” a helpful choice of words as they seem to imply then that other religions are flat-out wrong or false (ala Franklin Graham)?

Well Jeff, we know that Brian rarely eats or sleeps, but even he cannot endorse everything. 🙂

But seriously. I think there is a difference between divergent views and hostility. F’r instance, it was apparent that Mike Wittmer didn’t merely have differences with Brian’s presentation in A New Kind of Christianity; he was pretty hostile toward Brian, both theologically and personally.

I’m almost certain that this isn’t the case here. While there are doubtless differences between Len and Brian (as the Sweet piece you cite demonstrates), I see them as iron-sharpening-iron differences and not iron-jabbing-your-opponents-eyes-out differences. Both Len and Brian have been accused of various grevious heresies by the self-appointed watchdog ministries; I doubt Len wishes to inflict that pain on anyone else, even if he disagrees with them theologically.

So: Does JM say some different things than ANKoC?

Yes.

Is it possible to enjoy both books?

Yes, I think so, though natural predispositions being what they are, readers might naturally gravitate toward one perspective or the other.

Here’s the fascinating thing, as an aside: Brian in ANKoC and Richard Rohr in The Naked Now (which I’m presently reading) both write out of a conviction that Jesus has become in the hearts and minds of Christians too remote and too ‘divine’ to be of any earthly good, or connection with his followers today. Rohr specifically indicts contemporary Christians of the heresy of gnosticism, saying that while Nicea (or was it Chalcedon? I always forget…) technically settled the matter of Jesus being fully human and fully divine, “most Christians are very good theists who just happened to name their god Jesus.” By contrast, Rohr calls for a robust incarnational ethic, where we disavow a remote ‘theism’ as such and affirm a ‘down and in’ God who is located precisely right here, in our midst. Brian and Rohr both hope that people will stop merely worshiping Jesus and start listening to and following his teachings.

Sweet and Viola, by contrast, are observing an opposite trend: People following the human Jesus, but neglecting the exalted Christ. They wish to reclaim the grandiose language of the Epistles, which speaks of a Christ who fills all-in-all. This is different than a John Piper or Franklin Graham approach of brow-beating the planet earth with a jingoistic Christ, in my opinion.

To begin with, ‘supremacy’ is used in a mystical sense, inspired by T. Austin Sparks. And the divinity of Jesus championed by V&S isparticipatory divinity: We have become partakers of the divine nature through Christ. It’s a perichoretic divinity: The expansion of the dynamic life of the Trinity into communities where this Trinitarian life is made welcome, and thus radiating into the earth. (See Viola’s From Eternity to Here and Sweet’s So Beautiful.) To be honest with you, not counting Rohr, I miss this kind of unbridled mystical-devotional dimension in much of the emerging church. I too agree that everything must change and I don’t share Len’s antipathy with liberation theology (I don’t see how anyone can read Leonardo Boff or James Cone or Gustavo Gutierrez, or know the story and plight of the Base Ecclessial Communities in Latin America, and dismiss liberation theology as simply re-hashed Marxisim), but I will paraphrase anarchist Emma Goldman here: “I don’t want to be part of any Jesus revolution without a perichoretic dance.”

I want to see an emerging conversation that makes room for neo-liberationists and neo-pietists, Jesus Manifesto and Jesus Manifesto. We need neo-pietists in the Conversation to remind us just how revolutionary Paul was, and the Epistles are – that participatory divinity linked to the monotheistic God was truly a new phenomenon in the first century, and can be just as much so today. We need the neo-pietists to remind us of a good, strong, Lutheran-esque Gospel of God’s gratuitous grace and favor toward us, and how we can’t be the ‘hands and feet of Jesus’ unless we’re connected to the authority and animating energies of Christ our Head.

And so: I hope that in the next year, emergents and missionals, organics and liturgicals, conservatives and progressives, can stop writing each other off. If I have to stop calling it the ’emerging’ conversation in order to help missional and neo-pietist folk feel more welcome at the table, I will. Because I think that’s what Jesus – the whole, living Christ – wants.

Brian McLaren on New Vistas of Vision: Where Do We Go From Here?

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren wrap up their ground-breaking interview series on A New Kind of ChristianityWhere do new kinds of Christians go to manifest their inspiration into action? How do we treat those who don’t see the same things we see? Get the show notes and see the interview series in its entirety here.

Brian McLaren: Religious Pluralism in the 21st Century, or: How do Christians relate to those of other faiths?

Can the question of how people of different faiths relate to each other take forms other than Us vs. Them hostility or “Whatever, man” relativism? Is it possible to have Christian specificity without exclusivity? What about John 14:6 – you know, where Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no one comes to the Father except through me”?

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren discuss all of this (and its coverage in Brian’s A New Kind of Christianity) in the video below. Get the episode notes and see the entire ten-part interview as it unfolds here.

Also relevant to this conversation:

A Reading of John 14:6 (PDF essay) by Brian

A New Kind of Bible Reading (a free bonus chapter of A New Kind of Christianity)

See also Samir Salmanovic‘s book It’s Really All About God and his work with Faith House Manhattan

If you identify as a Christian, what do YOU think about your privileges and responsibilities in relating to those of neighboring faiths, and sharing your own? If you practice some other faith (or none at all), how do you feel that Christians on the whole have treated you? Do any defy the stereotypes?

Brian McLaren, Tim King – End-Times & New Beginnings

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren continue their discussion on A New Kind of Christianityis eschatology catastrophic and in the future? Or might it be fulfilled in an important sense, open-ended for divine-human empowerment? You can see the show notes for this segment and the entire interview here. You can download Brian’s fascinating free bonus chapter on eschatology – dealing with ‘personal eschatology’ and the afterlife – here.

This is a great time to mention an exciting new transition in the life of the Morrell family. I write this perched in the beautiful Black Forest of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Jasmin, Jubilee and I will be moving soon! (To the Springs, not the Black Forest…I wouldn’t be able to breathe up there!) I’m here with Tim King (whom Spencer also interviewed recently), Doug King, Kevin Beck and families – three-fourths of the all-new Presence team, of which I’ll soon be a full-time member.

I’ve been working with Presence as a consultant since 2006, and beginning this Spring I’ll be with them in a full-time capacity. Presence – along with The David Group and a soon-to-be-announced third counterpart – does amazing work in (what Brian calls) participatory eschatology, personal and communal empowerment, and peace-building work worldwide. I’ll be coming on as a communications jack-of-all trades, assisting in making our social media interaction top-notch as we catalyze further opportunities for collaboration with all people, across class and party lines. Stay tuned!

And…if you’re curious about the core theology and spirituality that animates Presence’s disparate activities, I’d recommend reading two things for starters:

Chapter Eight of Brian’s A New Kind of Christianity

Kevin Beck’s free eBook, This Book Will Change Your World – download it here!

This will be a wild ride…if you’re in Colorado Springs let me know – we should connect!

Brian McLaren: Let’s Talk About Sex

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren talk about sex (you see) and A New Kind of ChristianityWhat’s a conscientious Christ-follower to do amidst the culture wars?  Get the show notes and see the entire interview as it unfolds here.

Brian McLaren: What About Church?

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren continue their discussion on A New Kind of ChristianityWhat is the church in the 21st century?  Get the show notes and see the entire interview as it unfolds here.

Brian McLaren: What Is The Gospel?

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren continue their discussion on A New Kind of ChristianityWhat is the good news we profess, proclaim, and live by?  Get the show notes and see the entire interview as it unfolds here.


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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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