Saturday, August 31, 2002

Christian Rock and Transpropositionality

As you read Don't Knock Christian Rock, an interview with respected Biblical scholar Mark Allan Powell's new Encyclopedia of Christian Music (an unusual book from his pen, particularly), consider what I see as the modern and postmodern themes dancing in tension behind the interview. It's a window into transpropositionality.

jesus and java

picked up this from holyweblog.

"Coffee houses with a Christian flavor have become a discreet but potent presence in west Michigan, attracting teens and young adults with an inviting blend of rich java and spiritual acceptance. "

prayer request for Chris Temple

from Amelia Hendricks @ 9:44 AM on Sat 31 August:

I come before you again asking for fervent prayer. Chis took a turn for
the worse during the night. This is the first time the nurses have called
Roberta with a change -- we were awakened at 4:30 this morning with the news
that Chris had gotten worse.

He is bleeding somewhere from the low platelet count. They believe the most
likely source is irritation of the lining of the stomach or an ulcer. The
bleeding is controlled now -- they have given platelets and his red blood
cell count is stable. He is again requiring special IV medicine (Levophed)
for blood pressure support. They have put him back on the ventilator and
have no plans to take him off today. There is concern that he has aspirated
-- meaning he has gotten food and blood in his lung. This could lead to
pneumonia. He has spiked another temperature, which would be consistent
with infection. They will resume hemofilotration at noon today -- his blood
pressure will not tolerate hemodialysis.

update on Chris

from Amelia at 10 PM tonight:

What a great day this has been! Chris came off the ventilator at 10:30 this
morning and has been breathing on his own all day. Today is the first time
his pH (blood acid level) has been normal! He is off hemofiltration and
will receive hemodialysis in the morning. They have pulled off 35 of the 40
liters that he gained. His kidney output is slowly increasing and everyone
is hopeful that the kidneys will improve steadily each day.

The main organ to regain normal function at this point is his liver. It is
also slowly but steadily improving. They will not be able to proceed with
treatment for leukemia until it reaches a greater level of functioning.
Also, his level of awareness should improve when the toxins from the liver
failure are cleared from his system.

Roberta met the new oncologist this morning. She liked him very much. He
is pleased with Chris's progress and anticipates doing another bone marrow
biopsy soon to determine whether Chris is in remission or not. Based on
these results, he will know what the next steps in leukemia treatment are.

Prayer requests:
1. liver
2. bone marrow -- to be in remission and to produce normal cells to
strengthen his body
3. face pain -- we can't tell whether his face hurts today or not. We don't
think it does, but this is still a concern since he is off the Neurontin.
4. Kaitlin's visit tomorrow to see her father (she hasn't seen him in 2
weeks). She wants to see him, but is afraid. He will not be responding
normally since he is has hepatic encephalopathy (toxins from the liver
failure that effect his level of awareness).
5. his eyes -- that they will continue to heal, as he still does not seem
to see when he opens his eyes.

Continue to praise God and give Him all the glory, for all of this is in the
Great Physician's hands. There is a witness daily of God's faithfulness to
hear our prayers and touch lives for Himself.

Your sister in Christ,

Friday, August 30, 2002

Fifteen Traits of Postmodern Apostles

Chris Criminger posted this to the faithmaps discussion group.

Apostles have time for everyone.
Apostles know that the DNA of the church is to make apprentices of
Jesus Christ.
Apostles function as soul friends.
Apostles are passionate about entire cultures, people groups, and
Apostles know how to share Jesus with pagans.
Apostles are team-based leaders.
Apostles are obedient to a call beyond their own lives.
Apostles major on the majors, and minor on the minors.
Apostles are led intuitively by the Holy Spirit all the time.
Apostles are constantly innovating their methodology of reaching a
lost world.
Apostles serve Jesus Christ in the midst of the people of God instead
of serving the people of God.
Apostles pray without ceasing.
Apostles are real people, and yes they are human. And they know it.
Apostles understand the Matrix and can help you decide which pill to
Apostles are men after God's own heart.

on worship

one of our 'mappers wrote about how she tends to withdraw from God when threatened. I responded with:

This has been one of the most difficult 18 mos or so of my life and I've
*definitely* found I tend to flee to Him when pressed and, alternatively,
dive inside myself and - as Leanne Payne says - walk alongside myself when

But I'm like you in that I've found many different avenues to worship. When
I started working on our beautiful new campus in January, the sheer beauty
of the architecture - see

- led me to worship. And I've written here how Pat Methany has often moved
me to praise, sometimes while working out on my Nordic Track!
Similarly, reading the end of Lewis' 'Til We Have Faces just slays me.

This morning (and again this PM) during my hour's commute between Baltimore
and NVa I had an unusual experience- I actually worshipped while listening
to Comtemporary Christian music (which historically I've not liked)! :)

I was moved to tears by listening to Jennifer Knapp, a wonderful artist I've
just discovered who does not sound like every other Contemporary Christian
artist. I was listening to Come Freedom Come and was struck by this

Come Freedom Come
Written By: Jennifer Knapp © 2001
Gotee Music/West Hudson Music(Bmi)-Admin. By Emi Cmp

Come Trickle Down And Save The World
Two Hands That I Can't See
Come Breathe, Come Breathe,
Come Breathe On Me
Split-Rib Water, Blood And Bone
Come Now, Come Calvary
Come Breathe, Come Breathe On Me

The beautiful and horrible mixture of Christ's torture and the Spirit's empowering ... me! overwhelmed me. I'm moved even now
reflecting on it. Her voice is a rare beauty - truly unique and not canned.
Good grief. How could I forget that He went thru this? I am so thankful
that Jennifer took it out of the realm of the "knew that" and brought it
back to me.

O God, bring us all those conduits thru which we can forget ourselves and
see you afresh. I pray that for every 'mapper.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

update on Chris Temple

from the Temple's friend Ameilia Hendricks:

Roberta and I come to you tonight weary and burdened. We are both striving
to walk by faith and not by sight. Chris has held his own today -- no
backsliding, but no real improvements either. He has come so far from where
he was when at death's door, but he is still so far from where we want him
to be. There is still so much to praise the Almighty for -- we are thankful
for each day that God allow Chris to be with us; we praise Him for the
expertise of the doctors, nurses and others that work continuously to care
for his physical needs; we rest in the faithfulness of our God and claim the
confidence we have from Romans 8:28; we have His peace which surpasses all
understanding; we are experiencing His abundant provision; we have hope
that will not be disappointed regardless of the outcome. We continue to be
thankful for the hemofiltration working well to remove fluid, for the
absence of bleeding in spite of a low platelet count (it was 32,000 today
and he will receive more platelets this evening), for a normal heart rhythm
and rate and good blood pressure, for no evidence of infection.

Specific praises for today:
1. Chris's kidneys have put out 5 cc in 12 hours, double what they did
2. The doctor wants the nurses to begin weaning the breathing machine
tonight -- a sign that he believes Chris will be able to breathe on his own.

Please pray for:
1. Chris to be weaned successfully from the breathing machine, that his
oxygen and blood pH (acid level) will remain normal during and after the
weaning process, and that his respiratory muscles will be strong enough.
2. his liver. He is still jaundiced with elevated liver function tests.
Some of the medicines he is receiving (in particular, an antibiotic) are
"hard" on his liver. Pray for its continued recovery. His jaundiced
appearance is one of those particularly hard "walk by faith and not by
sight" issues.
3. his face pain. Roberta and I feel that Chris has been experiencing
unrelieved pain from the trigeminal neuralgia. We learned this evening that
they took Chris off Neurontin (the medicine for it) today because it is so
hard on the liver. Oh, if God would see fit to heal Chris completely of
this condition today!
4. his kidneys. They plan to continue the hemofiltration for several more
days. (They had talked about switching to hemodialysis today.) The
hemofiltration is more gradual and gentle to Chris's system, so I am pleased
with this decision. We are so encouraged by his output today and believe we
will see great progress in this area over the next several days.
5. his eyes.
6. Roberta's stamina. She is so strong and her faith has never wavered,
but the days, and especially the nights, are hard.

Roberta wants me to try to express her gratitude for your prayers, cards,
and other expressions of love and encouragement. There really are not words.
She is overwhelmed by the outpouring from family, friends old and new, and
those who are even strangers to her. She marvels at the unity of Christ's
body of believers. She gives God the glory!

what's the difference between a "wife" and "wifeology?"

Rick Seelhoff tells us.


I think I've written somewhere here or elsewhere that 1/2 thru my M.Div I
came to the conclusion that seminary was not preparing me to be a pastor but
to answer Bible questions. That opinion was solidified when in Chapel one
day one of my professors said, "We aren't here to train you to be pastors
but to answer Bible questions." :) I'm not joking!

I finally decided to hang in there and got a great deal out of taking
courses from Larry Crabb and Dan Allender , Advanced Greek studies (my
undergrad degree was in Classical Greek) and getting individual counseling.
I also wanted to finished what I started. I also thought that if I were
ever to change how the church grows her leaders a few letters after my name
would help.

I ended up writing my masters thesis on how the NT church grew leaders
compared with today. But - in sympathy with Landon - I wrote that I wasn't
sounding the death knell of graduate schools of theology. (Interestingly,
my professor wrote in the margin: "If it needs to be said, say it!") The
academic study of Scripture is critical to the church. It's just that - as
I then wrote and still believe - the church expects the seminaries to send
them leaders ready to shepherd and the seminaries expect the church to send
them leaders ready to shepherd and no one is doing the work of growing
shepherds! The crisis of leadership development in the church (and I
believe there is a crisis and am not merely trying to sound a jeremiad) is
more than even that: it is a crisis of discipleship. We've forgotten - to
a large degree - how to have spiritual friendships

Landon, my concern is not primarily over the legitimacy or illegitimacy of
seminaries. It's over evangelicalism's belief that information transfer is
the omnicompetent modality of spiritual formation. I think the church has
the same problem with its overemphasis on Sunday morning. And - **of
course** it's an over-reaction to that imbalance to then depreciate teaching
or theology or knowledge. But I also believe it's a truncation of
spirituality to think that it can occur without the sharing of life with
life. Why in the world do we think we can improve on Jesus' holistic
approach to growing leaders? He *spent time* and served and listened to his
proteges. So should we. Life with life. And, yes, there was instruction
as well.

Recently I had the chance to speak with a group of church elders about
spiritual development. I challenged each of them to think ab how *they*
grew and suggested that when they think of those seasons of growth in their
lives, they didn't think about classes - they thought about names.

Years ago, I think that what I believed was that one type of program should
be set up. Now I think it could be done in the seminary context or in the
church context or in the parachurch context. I even think that the current
anti-church installation rage could even be a context (I think this
countercultural movement has much to teach those of us who still go to
church). In achieving balance the seminary must struggle with the enormous
financial resources it takes to maintain an institution and the automatic
sociocultural barrier that presents to potential leaders. It also must
struggle with balancing academics and service and life and with issues of
scale. The classroom is inadequate by itself. More is needed.

God helping us, in Grace's Learning Community we are striving to grow our
own leaders in a holistic way. We are just at the beginning. But it's a
good beginning. And we have a **a lot** to learn.

I blogged on this some days ago:

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Chris Temple Update

from the Temple's friend Ameilia Hendricks in an email sent this afternoon @ 4 PM EST:

Chris came through the surgery with flying colors! His
platelet count going in to the OR was 46,000 (within the range of 45-50,000
that we prayed for!) The surgeon said it went in "easily", for which he was
surprised since Chris has such a thick neck (he said that, not me :-) ).
Getting off the vent is the next large hill Chris has to conquer.

One of the nurses said today that he has never seen hemofiltration work so
well for so long on anybody! He is used to it being successful for only a
day or 2 at most, and Chris has been on it for a week! We give God the
glory for answering our prayers about this.

The plan at this point is to let Chris rest today with minimal sedation.
They will resume the hemofiltration this afternoon. Roberta and I think
Chris is having face's hard to tell. We ask for specific prayer
that God will take this away.

When they begin to wean him from the ventilator and as he comes out from
under all the sedation (maybe tomorrow?), he will become more aware of his
surroundings and his condition. Please pray for his peace as he begins to
accept what has happened. Pray that his vision is not effected by the fluid
and burst vessels in his eyes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

does the US attack Iraq?

Tolle Blogge has some interesting thoughts. I started building out's war page on this some time ago with background info and opinions and analysis pro and con.

update on Chris Temple

from the Temple's friend Ameilia Hendricks in an email sent tonight @ 8 PM EST:

1. Chris has had a good day today. His vital signs are stable.
2. The hemofiltration has pulled of approximately 70 pounds of excess fluid
as of this morning! They would like to stop hemofiltration on Thursday and
begin hemodialysis (a 4-hour dialysis rather than the continuous dialysis).
The nephrologist (kidney doctor) said Chris could regain kidney function as
long as 3 MONTHS from now; that the failure of his kidneys is still
reversible. Hallelujah!
3. The oncologist said he is beginning to make normal white blood cells
(WBC) and she expects his WBC count to climb as the week progresses (a good

Prayer requests:
1. Chris will have surgery tomorrow at 12 noon for a tracheostomy. They
did not try to get him off the breathing machine today; they allowed him to
rest. He will be much more comfortable with the breathing tube out of his
mouth, but the surgery carries some risk with the low platelet count. Pray
for a platelet count of 45-50,000 at the time of surgery.
2. Pray for Roberta to rest well tonight. The decision to allow the trach
was a hard one and she is emotionally tired.
3. Roberta asks that we pray for Chris's nurses by name: Jayme, Vicki,
Diane, Paula, John, Sara, and Terri. And for his doctors, too: Dr. Evans
(who signs off the case tomorrow), Dr. Gunn, Dr. Kannapodi and Dr. Weber.
4. Pray for Kaitlin's first day at school tomorrow to go well.
5. Pray that God will be glorified in everything and that His will is done.
Pray that we will be bold witnesses so that the gospel message will go out
to those who need to hear.

We feel your prayers and the answers to them from our faithful God. Thank
you so much,

Monday, August 26, 2002

out of pocket

hi all, emergesque has been dark for a few days 'cause my cable internet connection at home has been down. it is slated to be repaired today. thanks for your patience.


Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Update on Chris Temple

this from the Temple's friend Amelia Hendricks in an email sent last night @ 5:26 PM:

Chris is holding his own today. He had a "rough night" and, although he is no longer improving, he is not losing ground either. His vital signs and level of support are about the same as when I last wrote (5 pm on Monday). They are to start dialysis today since his kidneys have not yet regained their function. Roberta was able to get some sleep last night and another shower today. She has a dear couple staying with her at the hospital -- praise God for them, too. And again, praise God for those who are ministering to Kaitlin back in Ligonier.
When they met with the doctors today about starting dialysis, one of them said they could not explain how Chris's blood acid level had improved as it did. Roberta gave all the glory to God, explaining about the prayers being lifted up. The lady with Roberta used that as an opportunity to let the doctors know that we are praying for them, too. She said it really touched the doctors to hear that.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Good News about Chris Temple!!!

this from the Temple's friend Amelia Hendricks in an email sent today at 4:15 PM ET:


It is my great joy to share with you that God has not only given us Chris for another day, but that his condition is IMPROVING!! His blood pressue is 110/70 on only one (instead of 3) special IV medicine and his heart rate is 110 also! Praise God!!! His infection is "under control" and there is no more bleeding. Praise God!!! His oxygen levels are better and he is recieving less support from the breathing machine. Praise God!!! They anticipate starting dialysis today or tomorrow as a bridge until his kidneys regain function, which they anticipate will occur. Praise God!!! His blood acid level continues to normalize. Praise God!!! One doctor has even said that if Chris continues to improve at this rate, he could be out of intensive care and in a regular room by this weekend! Praise God!!!
I believe one reason God took Chris to the depths of the pit was for modern medicine to realize that only the LORD can claim responsibility for these changes. Roberta has shared all along that many people from all over the world have been praying, and the doctors said, "Tell them to keep praying!"

Roberta is soooo encouraged, as you can imagine. God showed her in her devotions this morning that He will bring Chris through, that He has things yet for him to do. The passage was ... you guessed it... Philippians 1:22-26:
"If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me."

Roberta's voice is no longer "robotic", she has the desire to eat again, and she got a few hours of sleep last night.

Some of you have asked for their addresses so you can send cards. Here it is:
Home Address:
324 W. Vincent St.
Ligonier, PA 15658

Hospital Address:
Chris Temple
Neuro ICU
UPMC Shadyside
5230 Centre Ave
Pittsburg, PA 15232

Church Address:
Ligonier Baptist Church
N. Grant St
Ligonier, PA 15658
(724)473-3001 (Tues-Fri)

I won't write any more now becuse I want to hit the "send" button so you can rejoice with me. Please keep praying!! To God be the glory,



Thank you for praying with us for Chris and his family. I understand that they do not have health insurance but above is great news. Please continue to pray.

Stephen Shields

Chris Temple Update

from the Temple's friend Amelia Hendricks - this was received @ 10:23 PM on Sunday 18 August.


I spoke with Roberta around 8 pm this evening. Chris has shown a little
improvement today. His blood pressure and heart rate are up some. His
temperature is down some and the germ causing the infection in his blood
is "easy" to treat. He is still receiving life support -- the breathing
machine, medications for his blood pressure, blood and platelets
frequently, and medicines to correct the acid in his blood. His
kidneys, liver and spleen have failed and the longer he stays in
critical condition, the greater the likelihood of irreversible organ
damage. So the news is mixed. The doctors have indicated that a time
may come soon when they will ask Roberta to make a decision about Chris
continuing to receive this level of life support. Please lift this
aspect of things up to the Lord in particular.

I also spoke with Kaitlin this afternoon. She sounded better than I
expected, but I wasn't able to determine if she is doing as well as she
sounds. She is staying at home with Paula Smith Mullins. Please lift
up Paula (and her son) as she ministers to Kaitlin.

Roberta is "numb" and she feels like a "robot". She has eaten and taken
a shower for the first time in 2 days. She hasn't slept in several days
and the fatigue is taking its toll. However, our dear pastor's wife has
been going around the waiting room praying with other family members.
She said there have been several cardiac arrests today and that, while
she knows where Chris will spend eternity, others don't have this
confidence about their loved God is using her there. To God
be the glory.

I think that is all for now. Roberta is so comforted by your prayers.
As she said this morning, "I have peace, but my heart is broken".


Sunday, August 18, 2002

Chris Temple Info and Update

received this note from Chris' friend Amelia:

"Yes, Roberta is his wife of about 18 years (I think). They have a 14 year old
daughter Kaitlin who loves her daddy like I have never witnessed before. Since
Chris was in school and Roberta worked, Chris was the one home with Kaitlin.
They have a truly special bond, which makes this more difficult for her. Chris
is about 43 years old and in great shape ... until this illness. He used to be
a body builder, before he knew the Lord.

Thank you for all you are doing. I will keep you posted. I spoke with Roberta
about an hour ago and the doctors continue to believe he will not survive the

I will continue to post updates here as I receive them. I know some of you are praying and I thank you.

“In the future, everyone will be famous to 15 people on the Web"

MSNBC has a good article on the blogosphere. Thanks Joe!

More on Chris Temple

Received this note this AM from Chris' friend Amelia:

"Roberta [Chris' wife, I believe] called this morning around 6:00 [AM, EST]. Unless God brings about a miracle in
the next few hours, Chris will leave this earth to meet Jesus. What a wonderful
thing for Chris. As Roberta said, "I have great peace, but my heart is broken.""

Please keep praying and if I hear of any changes I will post here.

Saturday, August 17, 2002


Some of you may know Chris Temple, who is the moderator of the Founders
Friends discussion group that used to be on yahoogroups and now is listed under another site. He recently graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is now the pastor of Ligonier Baptist Church.

I just received a notice ab his being in the hospital with Leukemia and
received below after asking for details:

:The background: Sunday 2 weeks ago Chris "collapsed" after preaching. He
felt poorly all week with differing symptoms each day -- fatigue, a bloody nose,
blood blisters, etc. One of his deacons, who is a physician, took some
blood work. When he got the results that Friday, he drove straight to Chris and
Roberta's and then to the medical center 1.5 hours away. The hospital said
Chris would have died in a day or 2 if they had not brought him in. They
diagnosed him with acute leukemia, then did a bone marrow biopsy on Monday
to determine the type of leukemia -- as you know, the type determines the
treatment and prognosis. He has ALL (acute lympohcytic leukemia) which is the rarest
form and very unusual in adults. They started high-dose chemotherapy on
Wednesday. He had been running a fever and had a blood infection since admission, but
that had seemed to be under control. He was tolerating the chemo well with few
side effects. Very suddenly and unexpectedly today, around 1:00 pm, he dropped
his blood pressure and spiked a temperature. They transferred him to intensive
care. I just got off the phone with Roberta (9;00 pm on Saturday). He is
worse. He is on a breathing machine and his blood pressure is not
responding to the treatments. It doesn't look good at all. While Roberta is very upset,
she knows that God is in control and that He is the one who numbers our days.
They are a faithful witness to God's peace and sovereignty. I know they
appreciate your prayers and take comfort to know that so many people are praying for

this from a friend of Chris'. I believe Roberta is Chris' wife.

Please pray for Chris Temple and if you have your own blog, I encourage you to at least consider using it to get the word out.


Stephen Shields

Propositionality a Security Blanket

I've written here and elsewhere about how evangelicalism has become inordinately propositionalized. This has led the faithmapper community to develop their concept of transpropositionality as a balancing concept.

On Sunday 4 August in the faithmaps discussion group I wrote about how I'm growing increasingly dissatisfied to the degree that my own religion is propositionalized. There I commented:

"My religiosity is too much a matter of propositions. I gather my
propositions around my neck like a warm blanket - I imagine they nurture and
sustain me. My walk with God is too much just a matter of talk and reading
and writing. But God is calling me to something much more. He wants me to
lay aside my security blanket and get transpropositional! For me, that
looks like feeding the homeless or painting a house or mowing a yard or

And I commited myself to the 'mappers that before two week passed I would find something to do that would let me get my hands dirty.

I've been a computer professional for several years now so I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity where I could help people become financially self-sufficient by teaching them computer skills.

So this PM I found three opportunities using the fantastic VolunteerMatch website:

1 - the Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity


2 -The Patrick Allison House.

Patrick Allison House is a transitional housing program in Baltimore City
that supports homeless men in recovery from addiction in their efforts to
sustain sobriety, secure full-time employment, attain permanent housing, and
acheive personal and community responsibility.

Patrick Allison House was established in 1986 by members and friends of the
First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church who were interested in
breaking the cycle of homelessness in Balimore.

(I'm probably most interested in these folks but they don't have any Sat


3) Progress Online
I contacted them all for more info this AM. I'll let you all know what resp I get and what I decide to do!

Friday, August 16, 2002

Scripture as Proposition and the Transpropositional

My friend Fred Peatross alerted me to an interesting conversation now taking place at David Heddle's blog that began as a commentary on David's assertion that

"The Bible is the inerrant and sufficient inspired word of God"

is the first axiom of Christianity.

When I first went to David's blog I couldn't find the discussion Fred was talking about. But then he clarified that he was referring to the lively discussion taking place in the comments to this post! So I began there to post a response and was expatiating at such a length that I thought I'd just blog on it here.

On this axiom Christopher Jones (and while David left Christopher anonymous, Christopher said in the comments that he did not mind being associated publically with his comments) wrote (among other comments):

"This way of apprehending Christian truth is thoroughly and deeply wrong. Christianity does not, as you claim, lend itself to an axiomatic approach; such an approach leads inevitably to a deficient understanding of Christianity."

I tend to lean toward Christopher's position on this point. And yet I'm sympathetic to a particular way in which David's axiom might be formulated so as to be defensible.

I've written in various places ab evangelicalism's addiction to the proposition as the omnicompetent modality of spiritual formation. Yet I wonder if I should say "the naked proposition." I wonder if our more foundational error is an arbitrary bifurcation of the Scriptures from the One Who speaks. There are times when the propositional achieves transpropositionality as, for example, when propositions are performative (e.g. "My Word will not return to me void...."). And when we consider that it's all God-breathed, then we can't collapse the Scriptures down to a mere collection of propositions. It's more.

Yet - surely - it can be treated in that way. The evangelical quiet time - for example - is meaningless outside of the vertical relational context that gives it passion, spontaneity and vibrancy. And that's not even to deny that - just as in any relationship - there can be times when even being with God can be mundane or routine. But what's critical is that there is an intentionality about being with God. But - just as surely - a view of Scripture or theology as mere information transfer is inadequate. And we still believe that too often the church has viewed information transfer as too important by itself.

So these nuances might be easily missed in Heddle's stark statement.

Postmodernism a Full-Circle Path from Modernism to PreModernism?

In his comments on Heddle's suggestion, Fred Peatross wrote:

"Postmodernism has taken us full circle; back to the pre-modern, experential time; pre-reformation. "

RW responded with

"I'm concerned (and this is sincere concern) whether post-modernism is really capable of taking us "full circle." Granted, intellectual fashions sometimes do move in circles; but I'm worried that leaving modernism doesn't necessarily make us pre-modern, any more than leaving a marriage makes a woman a virgin again (to use C. S. Lewis's analogy--or was it Chesterton?). Aren't there certain strains in post-modern thought that are inimical to Christianity? "

It's been my contention that postmodernism helpfully critiques an inordinately modernized evangelicalism. At the same time, we must resist the easy mistake of viewing modernism and postmodernism in a simple antithetical binary fashion. We don't see them as opposite viewpoints in every respect. In fact, one could argue that postmodernism is the full-flower of modernism. Alternatively, one could also view the two schools of thought as being complimentary.

I believe that RW is right that full-blown postmodernism does have elements- as he puts it "inimical to Christianity." For example, contra Foucault, mere expression is not intrinsically malevolent. But Foucault does help to underline a potential abuse of language and presented knowledge.

And I'm not sure that it's possible - or desirable - for us to revert to the pre-modern.

Rather, I suggest we've something to learn from the pre-modern. Imagine how always seeing the same people in your village decade after decade as you never travel more than 25 miles from your home could deepen your sense of community.

We've something to learn from the modern. As Brian McLaren says, one wants a modern heart surgeon! One would desire a very modern air traffic controller!

And we've something to learn from the postmodern. There are limits to our knowledge. There is mystery. We can say - at times - I don't know.

All these perspectives must be kept in balance in the context of our grateful love for the One Who died for us.

Monday, August 12, 2002

do we war with Iraq?

The 'mappers have been discussing the Iraqi War Issue. I've built out's War & Terrorism page to include a special section with background information on the current situation, some analysis, and a sampling of commentary.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

growing new leaders

As I mentioned, Thursday and Friday I and 27,000 other church leaders at 49 sites all over the country enjoyed Willow Creek's 2002 Leadership Summit. It was a great conference and featured Daniel Goleman, who authored Emotional Intelligence, the business consultant Warren Bennis and Dan Allender, psychologist and president of Mars Hill Graduate School.

Dan Allender spoke about being "a glorious ruin who is being remade." It was wonderful. Dan Goleman's Emotional Intelligence had a profound effect on my thinking when I read it some years ago. He extended his thinking to leadership and I'm looking forward to reading his new book Primal Leadership. But it was one remark in Willow Creek Founding Pastor Bill Hybel's interview with Warren Bennis that perhaps struck me the most.

Warren Bennis is considered one of the fathers of organizational development and is 77 years old. Hybels asked him if he had ever seen an effective leadership development program.

He said no!

Hybels followed up by asking Bennis' advice on the four things that Hybels tells every aspiring leader:

1 - Read all you can about leadership;
2 - Spend time with other leaders;
3 - Put yourself in contexts where you can be taught by other leaders;
4 - Lead something.

Bennis said that he thought that was a good list but added a fifth point:

5 - Get feedback in everyone of these four steps.

Note the degree to which personal relationship can play a significant factor in these counsels - particularly in 2 but also in 5.

What struck me about Bennis saying that he had not seen a truly effective leadership development program is that leadership development is not subject to being programmed. It is organic. Leaders are grown, not planned. Leadership development must be transpropositional and it must be relational. This does not mean that there cannot be elements of leadership development that are not subject to systematization. For example, a series of workshops on the core competencies of spiritual leadership could be quite helpful. But evangelicalism has tended to rely on the classroom to create leaders. Modernity has seemingly influenced her to believe that the mere transfer of propositions can get the job done. But something else is needed. Larry Crabb has written that spiritual transformation rarely occurs outside of a relational context. When we think of our own seasons of spiritual change, what tends to come to mind are not books or classes or sermons but names.

Consequently, in the Learning Community org we are launching in our local church, we've taken as one of our operational distinctives a "find one/make one" policy. We are encouraging every facilitator in Learning Community to find one leader currently ready to lead and help enfold them into our Leadership Community and to find one potential leader beside whom they can come alongside and help them to find their path. I've suggested that is a non-negotiable operational distinctive that should be made a part of the church's corporate culture. We wish to create an environment where you cannot call yourself a leader unless you are constantly on the prowl for those now qualified and nurturing up and coming leaders.

We believe that this organic approach to new leader development will be more effective than any programmed system.

Friday, August 09, 2002

where's stephen?

hi all; we've been dark for a few days 'cause I was working like a dog in Denver on a USA TODAY thing first part of the week and then I'm in the middle now of a leadership conference I'll be blogging about with Daniel Goleman, Warren Bennis, and Dan Allender and others!

more to come!

Saturday, August 03, 2002

toward a praxis of theologial disagreement

The 'mappers are currently in the midst of a lively thread on theological disagreement. I had sort of started the thread. And I say "sort of" 'cause what precipitated my post was a theological disagreement about limited atonement. Now this is not the usual type of thing that we discuss; the 'mappers are more likely to discuss postmodernity, epistemology, and transpropositionality.

Though the faithmaps discussion group finds its roots in evangelicalism, there is no ideological requirement to joining. We've been compared to L'Abri inasmuch as anyone is welcome to join and participate in discussion as long as they know what kind of list we are and what we generally talk about. In the ensuing mix of folks we have Arminians, Calvinists, and those who don't care. Consequently, from time to time the topic of limited atonement comes up and it did so recently. But probably because it's not our usual fare, someone asked me if it was ok to talk about this in our list (I'm the moderator if that's not obvious). I referred to comments made in the file that goes out to every new subscriber:

"This list was created to facilitate discussion on topics flowing from which was created to provide

'tools for navigating theology, leadership, discipleship and church life in postmodernity'"

And so discussion began.

But it seemed to me that things were starting to trend south and so I decided to put on my moderator hat and launch a couple of preemptive
strikes. My first note was just to reiterate the importance of mutual respect in our discussion. My second note was listing some illustrations from the history of the Calvinism/Arminian conflict where the disputants - in my opinion - disagreed in a Christian manner.

(I should also note that the 'mappers also do some self-moderating in this regard that I appreciate.)

But a couple of days ago I expressed to our group the desire for something more.

We debate because we are genuinely interested in what is true! This requires more than collegiality. Rather it requires the full extent of respect and humility.

Here's part of what I wrote:

"I would love to see the forum - online, facetime, writing, whatever - where
people have genuine theological discussion doing what Peter Senge calls
"balancing advocacy with inquiry" and what Paul calls regarding one another
as more important with humilty of mind.

Here in this room, with some fits and starts - we've generally done a pretty
good job of discussing with mutual respect when we disagree. I cherish
that. And I don't think that should be depreciated.

But I will tell you that I wish for something more. I am looking for the
theological, ecclesial practice of genuine theological disagreement where
gifted disputants vigorously seek to explore the presuppositions of their
opposites. These charitable souls have learned the art of *provisionally
adopting the stance of their opposite* in order to 1) understand the
position with which they disagree and 2) take into serious account the
possibility that their own position is in error.

This is rare in theological discourse. I would love to see us develop this
art here. Can you imagine what this kind of proliferating theological
practice might do to the intelligence and unity of Christ's church?"

One clarification: note I wrote "provisionally"
adopting the stance of their opposite." I'm not talking about abandoning convictions on core Christian truths but taking a stance of humility and inquiry when discussing non-core doctrinal issues (and, yes, I realize that list varies in length for different folks).

When I have had the chance to do mediation, this is the kind of situation I set up with my disputants; I facilitate their drilling down into the presuppositions and motivations of their opposite. I also emphasize this when I do consulting or training on conflict resolution.

Some time ago I wrote a brief article in which you can find an example of this type of discussion. However, this is a moderated example and I believe this type of discussion would not necessarily require moderation.

This kind of discussion - applied to theology - just seems too rare. I genuinely believe it's the application of Philippians 2:3. I also believe that the result would be a greater grasp of truth and a more holistic approach to loving God and loving others besides.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

more on modernism and postmodernism

I've been thinking more about the question that Fred Peatross asked the other day. (I had given a first response to this a couple of days ago.) If I were to hazard a more philosophical analysis of the genesis of full-bore pomo, I would suggest it's the inevitable epistemological implosion that results when man is made the starting point of all knowledge. i.e. when Descartes suggested that the primary epistemic starting point was "I think, therefore I am," he set forth what seems to be an inadequate starting place: Man. Man's mind would appear to be an inadequate philosophical starting place for knowing ab eternalities. If my thinking is correct here, built on this shaky foundation, the epistemological collapse down to skepticism and postmodernism was perhaps inevitable (where "Man can know everything" segues to "Man can know nothing" - and please understand I'm painting with a broad brush here). I suggest modernism and postmodernism both have their anthropocentric epistemological luggage. Comments? I'd especially like to hear from those who have done particular study in this area (professionally or not).