Emergent Church of Christ on FACEBOOK

August 20, 2008

There is now a facebook group called Emergent Church of Christ. Check it out. Join it. Interact with others on it. Who knows what Restoration historians will say in 50 or 100 years about the social networking of emergents in the Church of Christ?

How else will we know who else is out there? Let’s share stories, encourage each other, and stay connected.

Lectio Divina with teens

August 3, 2008

I just taught the high school bible class at Flaming Pine Youth Camp. It was incredible to see what these kids did with scripture. They read scripture, meditated on scripture, interpretted scripture, and discussed the meaning of scripture with each other.

At the end of the week, they were asking for more.

I reject the notion that adolescents do not like scripture, the bible, or religion. I believe that boring, pointless, and guilt-laden approaches to scripture make it unattractive. But when teens get a chance to converse with scripture, they like it. Teens are able to go deep in their conversations with scripture.

We used a variant of a practice called Lectio Divina. In short here is what we did:

1. I read the chapter or scripture selection to them and asked them to let it wash over them. Nothing was required of them but to listen.

2. I read the same passage again. Only this time they were to pay attention to the part of the passage that was calling out for attention. (No one even questioned that scriptiure was able to call out for attention).

3. Then they were to free write about that piece of the passage which called out for attention. They were to wonder about why such a piece of scripture would call to them.

4. Then there was optional sharing time with feedback from the other students.

They couldn’t get enough of this way of reading and conversing with scripture. They ahve asked for a facebook group to be created in order to continue this practice.

A tile in the mosaic

June 30, 2008

Last night at the Solomon’s Porch gathering I shared what was important and central to Christianity from the Churches of Christ position. I am certainly no spokeman for the C of C and I am no theologian.

But here is what I said (roughly):

Churches of Christ began as a unity movement back in the early 1800’s with an optimistic desire to restore the 1st century church. It was assumed that honest people could read the Bible and by necessity end up with the same conclusions. Differences were the result of a dishonest reading or misunderstanding of the truth.

In churches of Christ, the bible is the authority. In a Church of Christ, you are likely to hear someone say, “Speak where the Bible speaks and keep silemnt where the Bible is silent.”  Faith, in large measure, was measured by how much a person knew about the Bible. In some cases, the more specific a person could be was an indication of their faith.

Biblical correctness resulted in some wonderful things like the high value places on baptism, communion, and worship. However, where the Biblical correctness goes to seed is the rules attached to each of these things. Baptism is not just honored, but there are specific ways in which one must be baptized – fully immersed, for the remission of sins and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Worhsip must be without instruments becauser that is how they did it in the New Testament and communion must be every Sunday.

It was also noted that Max Lucado, who most Christians know, is a Church of Christ guy.

I said more. I hope that I did a good job of honoring the efforts of unity that the Church of Christ was involved in, but at the same time I hope that I revealed some bias which the Church of Christ introduced into the Christian mosaic.

I hate moving

June 17, 2008

I am in the middle of a move from my townhouse to a townhouse amile away, but waaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper.

So, I am not blogging.

Names, Labels, and Wordsmithing

June 13, 2008

Click here to see some other names of the conversation among people in churches of Christ and the emerging church.

Bad/Good Theology + Good/Bad People = Big hurt

June 11, 2008

Abuse within the spiritual and religious realms is not limited to one group or one end of the liberal/conservative spectrum (if there is such a thing). Abuse show up everywhere.

I am tempted to believe that religious or spiritual hurt originates bad people who do bad things. I am tempted to believe that, but I just can’t. At least I cannot limit it to that. Beliefs (theology, philosophy etc) and more importantly the beliefs about how to share/spread/multiply those beliefs in others do matter when it comes to living a Christian life.

For example, if someone believes that sin gets you a ticket to Hell adn losts of sin can get you there even faster, that is certainly one thing. That’s the belief. Now, if the tactic (the belief about how to implement the belief) for sharing that message is to go around threatening people who are sinners (a very tricky thing to learn without being a hypocrite) with Hellfire and to take names later, then that is certainly another thing.

The very same belief about a sin and hell connection could be dealt with by befriending “sinners,” helping them deal with the natural consequences in their lives that they have accumulated for themselves, showing them kindness, forgiving them constantly, being gracious when they are crude, etc. A process theology of goodness, generosity, grace, and humility can really help alone a theology of sin and Hell. The original belief is not necessarily the problem, but it is the belief about how to implement the belief that could be the problem.

That is a theology problem because theology is not just about the WHAT, it is also about the HOW.

Now, there are some very bad theological perspectives which I think have only one end to them – hurting people, but i do not want to get into those in this post. The important thing is that even good people can get swept into bad theology, from any point int he theology spectrum, and end up doing harm regardless of intention.

 

 

Asterisks: Introdcution

June 9, 2008

Pontius Pilate asked a timeless question as he looked Jesus in the eye. He asked, “What is truth?”

What a great question. Jesus could have simply responded to Pilate that he should just read the Bible. The problem is that the Bible had not been written yet. Well, half of it had been written. The rest of it, the part many Christians call “the truth” had not been written yet. In fact, most New Testment events had not been performed yet.

So, I guess Jesus could have looked at Pilate and said, “Well Pontius my friend, I would tell you to read the Bible, but it hasn’t been completed yet, so I guess you’re out of luck. There is no truth yet because there is no complete Bible yet. Sorry Pilate, but if you manage to live a few more centuries, then we’ll have an agreed upon Bible. Then you can read it, and if you read it honestly, you will know the truth.”

Of course I am being ridiculous with my fake conversation between Pilate and Jesus. But I use it to make the point that the Bible and truth (Truth) are not synonymous. There has always been truth, but the completed Bible (if it is indeed completed) is a relatively new addition to the story of God and the truth. Even if you hold to the 6000 year old history of the world, the completed Bible hasn’t even been around for a third of that time period. Truth cannot be solely contained in the Bible unless truth itself did not exist until either  the first or fourth centuries (depending on how you want to measure it).

This series of posts entitled “asterisks” flows from a rather pleasant conversation I have been having in response to this blog post with Don Prather. The title asterisks comes from a general agreement Don and I have that God’s word is truth. I agreed with Don, but with certain asterisks. They are listed below.

(a) Truth (and God’s word) is not limited to the Bible

(b) Different people have different threshholds  of truth they must “meet” in order to be saved from…

(c) Truth is a process as well as content. But the process is more important.

Each of these asterisks will get its own post. All are welcome to join in on this conversation. Feel free to invite your friends and bloggies to jump in as well. I look forward to the conversation.

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Most of my conversations about truth, God’s word and the Bible have been great and respectful. Some, however, have degraded into name-calling and blaming. All are invited to converse here, but disrespect is not welcomed. Please keep it honest and friendly.

Let’s take this thing for a drive

June 6, 2008

One of the great advantages the history of churches of Christ and the Restoration Movement offers is a foundation of autonomy. There is no central office or denominational headquarters to answer to. There is no governing head of the church. There is no written church laws on top of the Bible that must be reaffirmed and voted on at annual conferences and conventions.

Everything historically and structurally appears to set in place to step unfettered into an ever reforming and ever renewing body of Christians. Few fellowships or denominations are better situated to become change as change is needed.

And yet we have, in the spirit of the modern enlightenment, found a way to act as though we were a denomination. We find that we have a greater investment in distinctiveness (jacked up with scriptures extracted from their source) as proof of our faithfulness than we have investment in bringing and being a message of hope.

The time has come for churches of Christ to take their autonomy for a drive. It is our greatest untapped strength.

What do you think a church of Christ could do that churches tethered to a denomination just couldn’t? How could we take our autonomy for a drive?

Book Review: The New Christians #2

June 6, 2008

The New Christians Part 1

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This post is the 2nd of 6 from Tony Jones new book called, “The New Christians

Chapter 2 starts out with some fiction (Tony is secretly a fan of fiction), an allegory. It serves to set the stage for the lion’s share of the rest of the chapter which covers, warts and all, the friendships which evolved into a movement. But this movement was not started by these friends, packaged tastefully, and then promoted, although it could easily be interpretted that way. Instead, this group of friends got together and began to recognize that there was a common experience among them which had no voice. They wondered if there were others “getting it” (whatever ‘it’ was).

The story goes on sharing how many people were experiencing the same thing in the United States and in the U.K.  

This chapter is a skin of made partly of history, partly of autobiography, partly of fiction, partly of anecdote – a skin wrapped around the response to the problem of the RIGHT/LEFT Christianity denoted in the first chapter.

What is not stated as expicitly as it could have been is the incredible risk taken by many of these emergent friends. Many of these people have cast their lot with a life of church and then turned their back on the bread and butter. Many of these people have families to feed, have rent or mortgages to pay, have to make ends meet. They put it on the line with the institutional support completely evaporated.

I wanted to hear more about the emerging church in Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia. The stories from other continents, if there are any, didn’t make chapter 2 of the book besides a reference to Brian McLaren’s travels to Africa. But that is still an American headed out. I want to hear about Korean emergents, Guatemalan emergents etc. I also want to hear more about women in emergent. Factor out Karen Ward, and there is not much talk of women.  

What this chapter best does is show how something comes out of nothing. How emergence happens – or can happen. It is not a model for how to do it, but rather it is a story that shows that it can be done. People with a passion, an itching, a yearning, with a sense that maybe this church life is getting in the way of your relationship with God, then chapter 2 gives hope that you don’t have to just be suffocated by your denomination. At the same time, you can’t be a little emergent. So far as Jones is concerned, it is full immersion.

Church of Christ Compost #2

June 5, 2008

Much of the compost created by churches of Christ has to do with the way in which people from its tradition interact with the rest of the world. There is a way in which religious people (RM people very much included) can get so insular and self-focused that it becomes impossible to have any meaningful communication with people who are not within their group.

The Church Rollerskating Party

Times were good at the South Twin Cities church of Christ. We were growing numerically, the youth group was coming together, and there were a large number of very involved members. It was time when there was optimism and hope that a Northern church of Christ could break the stereotype of the small, weak Northern church.

The parents organized a rollerskating party for the youth group. It was an invite your friends event, filled with evangelistic optimism.

We arrived with all of our friends and started skating. All the popular tunes of the of the 1980’s were pumping. Oops. The music was not something the parents had anticipated. Styx, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Jefferson Starship etc rocked us as we skated.

Even though every parent had allowed their kids to skate at this very roller rink with these same songs on Saturdays all year long, this was a church event. This heathen music was not acceptable – not for an evangelistic event. So, one of the parents took the bull by the horns adn asked the DJ for some Christian music. The teenage boy was apparently not aware that Christians had music (and with good reason in the 1980s). The parent insisted that there was Christian music. Furthermore, the parent insisted on something acappella. Again, this acappella music was not something the DJ knew about. When it was explained to the DJ that acappella meant singing only without instruments, he got it. He told the parent that he did have one song that was mostly acappella. The parent was not happy, but felt stuck as she had not brough in some music of her own (Can you imagine rollerskating to “How Great Thou Art” by the Hardin Acappella chorus?)

So, the DJ, in his best effort to accommodate what must have sounded like a crazy request, annouced a mostly acappella song.

The drums lead in Buhm buhm shih, Buhm Buhm Shih and then the vocals “Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise playing in the streets gonna be a big man some day…”

We Will Rock You by Queen was the best the DJ could do.

Please respond with your ideas about why this is or is not compost.