Thursday, March 31, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Gauging the True Strength of a Movement
"A movement is only as strong as the questions it can tolerate, answer, and grow from."
A great comment posted in response to the Baptist Press/Andrew Jones Conversation regarding ec.
Posted by Stephen at 3/30/2005 07:43:00 AM
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
A Church Online Conference
Dan Henrich announces that Virtual Registration is now available for remote access to the Internet Evangelism in the 21st Century Conference on April 1 and 2.
Some ec bloggers will be presenting:
Posted by Stephen at 3/29/2005 07:50:00 AM
Monday, March 28, 2005
DJ Chuang, Will Samson, and
I all live in the Baltimore-Washington Corridor and are carpooling together on Friday 1 April to participate in a Session we're all giving, along with Steve Knight and Nick Ciske at the Internet Evangelism for the 21st Century Conference in Lynchburg, VA. Will and I have breakfasted once and I know DJ from Cedar Ridge, but I've never spent this much time with either of them so this should be fun and profitable!
Here's the conference blurb on our session:
Reaching the Connected Generation with Blogging.
What is a "blog"? What does it mean "to blog"? And how can blogs be used to evangelize on the World Wide Web? Find out answers to these questions—and more—as this panel of bloggers discusses the emerging medium and what it means for the future of ministry on the Internet. You'll hear from Steve Knight (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), DJ Chuang (ForMinistry.com), Nick Ciske (nickciske.com/blog/), Will Samson (willzhead.typepad.com), and Stephen Shields (Faithmaps.org).
Posted by Stephen at 3/28/2005 07:17:00 AM
Sunday, March 27, 2005
"Leaders call 'Emerging Church Movement' a threat to Gospel"
A recently developed way of envisioning church known as the "Emerging Church Movement" deals carelessly with Scripture and compromises the Gospel, according to a prominent evangelical scholar and a Southern Baptist seminary president.
Baptist Press - "the daily national news service of Southern Baptists since 1946" posts a David Roach piece reporting Southern Baptist and evangelical criticism of the emergers. The article speaks of DA Carson's soon to be published Becoming Conversant with Emergent and comments by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R Albert Mohler, Jr.
A-List Emerging Blogger Andrew Jones posts a lengthy and thoughtful response.
Posted by Stephen at 3/27/2005 08:23:00 PM
Eating my Own Dog Food
In my response to Tony Jones' comment that most emerging church criticism is coming from Calvinists, I mentioned that it's important that we seek to learn from our criticism as well as discerningly considering its source.
Regarding my statement
And I dare say that if you were to look at the percentages by religion tradition of serious orthodox theological books being written, you might find that the lion's share of them are being written by Calvinists of various flavors.
Serious ORTHODOX theologians writing the lion share are Calvinists? Man, that seems like semi-bold statement. :)
Stephen, don't you think that only one who prescibes to Calvinist theology would call it "orthodox"? I don't know, but don't you think that many theologians would consider Calvinist theologians heretical?
Do you think that you could get many RC, Anglican, of Orthodox theologians to agree with you?
And to claim that the vast majority of orthodox Christian theology is being written by Calvinists may say more about your reading list than it does about reality.
Firstly, I did not at all mean to make orthodoxy and Calvinism a tautology and appreciate the opportunity to make clarification. By orthodoxy I mean the "irreducible complexity" of core doctrinal truths to which a wide variety of Christian traditions have agreed. Calvinism is one of these tradition streams.
Secondly, that being said, I think that Rick's friendly challenge and Tony's point that my comment may have a lot to do with my reading habits are fair.
Tony also acknowledges that there is a Calvinistic emerging world and also correctly points out that doesn't vititate his point that many ec critiques are nevertheless coming from other Calvinists.
Finally, Tony also comments that he is paying careful attention to ec critiques from this quarter.
Thank you, gentlemen, for keeping me on my toes. I genuinely appreciate it.
Posted by Stephen at 3/27/2005 03:21:00 PM
- While Tony's point might have merit, there are also a number of folks from Calvinist traditions at various stages of emerging.
- Before I make my second point, I perhaps should reveal that I consider myself a Calvinist but not a five-pointer. And I perhaps should also say that I don't find the 5 points of Calvinism a terribly big deal. As I've said before, my personal response to the emerging conversation is that my personal theology has morphed from encyclopedia to outline. That being said, while I have respect for those writing out from other evangelical and Christian traditions, after 26 years of theological reading, I tend to turn to the Calvinists when I want to read theology. And I dare say that if you were to look at the percentages by religion tradition of serious orthodox theological books being written, you might find that the lion's share of them are being written by Calvinists of various flavors. So I'm not sure how very interesting it is that most of the critiques are coming from Calvinist corners.
- That being said, and I wish to speak carefully here, in my experience there has been some truth to the critique that as modernity might precipitate some believing every theological i can be dotted and every doctrinal t can be crossed, so also some Calvinists have felt their system of thought was the system of thought. And it has seemed to me that some believe that their system of thought was too important, rather than the One it seeks to explain and celebrate. But my critique here is primarily one of trust. Let me say very clearly that I'm very, very certain that there are those who completely by in to all the primary Calvinist tenets who cause God every day to break out in huge smiles. Holiness, in my opinion, does not turn on the criterion of Calvinist belief.
- I'd suggest that of more importance than all of this would be that we would take a stance of humility in responding to our critics. They may have something to teach us.
Posted by Stephen at 3/27/2005 10:54:00 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Monday, March 21, 2005
Excellent Resource for Biblical Studies
This past Sunday I decided to begin reading through all the OT Prophets in chronological order. I've kept a chart for years that details each Prophet's
- years of ministry (estimate)
- primary audience
- ascendant world power
- relationship to Northern and Southern Kingdom exile
I wanted to update this info and was googling around for some sites and came across Dennis Bratcher's Christian Resource Institute.
Posted by Stephen at 3/21/2005 10:03:00 AM
Sunday, March 20, 2005
More of the Emerging Storm
Emerging Church Critic Carla Rolfe points us to two online chapters dealing with Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, and the Emerging Church from the forthcoming book by R Scott Smith. Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University and the author of Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge: Philosophy of Language After MacIntyre and Hauerwas . Smith also serves as the secretary-treasurer of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.
Posted by Stephen at 3/20/2005 10:31:00 AM
Saturday, March 19, 2005
In Her Own Words: The Faith and Poise of Ashley Smith
I said, "Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don't believe in miracles -- you are here for a reason. You're here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don't think that's a miracle? You don't think you're supposed to be sitting here right in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?"
I said, "You know, your miracle could be that you need to -- you need to be caught for this. You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of God with them, with all the prisoners there."
Posted by Stephen at 3/19/2005 12:20:00 AM
Friday, March 18, 2005
- Introduction: A Time to Reflect Craig G. Bartholomew, Cheltenham
- Theology and the Futures of Evangelicalism Alister E. McGrath, Oxford.
- Evangelicalism and the Church: The Company of the Gospel Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Chicago
- Evangelicalism and Biblical Interpretation Howard Marshall, Aberdeen
- Evangelicalism and Biblical Theology Graeme Goldsworthy, Sydney
- Future Trends in Mission Christopher Wright, London
- Evangelicalism and Ethics Robin Parry, Worcester
- A Christian World-view and the Futures of Evangelicalism Craig G. Bartholomew, Cheltenham
- Evangelical Spirituality Eugene H. Peterson, Vancouver
- Evangelicalism and Philosophy Gregory J. Laughery, Lausanne
- Evangelicalism and the Charismatic Movement (UK) Nigel Scotland, Cheltenham
- Charismatic Evangelicals in North America and World Wide: Radicalizing Evangelical
- Theology and Practice Jonathan Ruthven, Virginia Beach
- Evangelicalism and Politics Stephen Lazarus, Washington, DC
Posted by Stephen at 3/18/2005 07:48:00 AM
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The Skinny on the Emerging Church
I am kicking off a one week tour of the emerging church, at least . . how I see the emerging church and how I would describe it to OLDER people who may not understand it. Every day, over the next week, I hope to introduce 10 characteristics of the emerging church, tackle the hairy subjects of definition (our failed attempts) and criticisms of the emerging church, and also mention some of the opportunities and resources available to and out of the emerging church.
Andrew Jones announces his intention to provide a broad vista on the emerging church.
Posted by Stephen at 3/17/2005 06:36:00 AM
- Relevant Magazine
- Cornerstone Magazine
- Brian McLaren
- Mars Hill Graduate School
- Carey Theological College
- and others.
Posted by Stephen at 3/17/2005 06:19:00 AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
A Tale of Two Professors
When I was in bible college and seminary, I discovered there were two kinds of professors. One was certainly appointed, the other was obviously annointed and spiritually gifted. One put me to sleep and turned me off to the subject matter taught. The other ignited a flame in me as I sat in close promixity to the fire within him. One professor acted as if he mastered the text years ago at some ivy league university. The other, even after a lifetime of living with the text, seemed to still be in awe of the mystery of it. One only seemed to notice the fingerprints of humanity in the pages of scripture. The other continually showed me the finger of God in scripture. One professor critically picked away at every detail in the Bible. The other seemed to glory in the big picture in an almost childlike way. To this day, I struggle to get excited about a particular sections of the Bible taught by the first professor, while I regularly return to the passages taught by the second.
posted by Chris Criminger, an Indiana pastor and faithmapper.
Posted by Stephen at 3/16/2005 07:46:00 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Monday, March 14, 2005
We are considering sponsoring an "Emerging Theologians" series. Details are still being discussed, but the object would to sponsor new theological thought that is outside of the academy and created by currently unpublished authors. We would love to see younger theologians submitting to this effort but are equally excited about the possibility of submissions from all ages. Right now this is very much in the dream stages but we hope to have some established theologians participate in the review process, possibly acting as mentors. We're also considering a combination of publishing options, including web-based and/or a print journal, and possibly a books that is a collection of the essays. Stay tuned for more details, and please leave your comments below.
Will Sampson gives us a head up to this Emergent possibility.
Posted by Stephen at 3/14/2005 07:47:00 AM
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Brian McLaren Remembers Stan Grenz
One of the rumors I had heard about Stan before meeting him was that he was the only theologian anyone knew of who sang and played guitar (and sometimes trumpet) in the worship band at his home church. When I had the opportunity to visit Stan’s home and home church, I could see how deeply engaged he was both with his beloved city of Vancouver and with First Baptist, where Edna serves on staff. This involvement is less surprising in light of the fact that he was a youth director, assistant pastor, and pastor before becoming a theologian. Even as a professor of theology, Stan would frequently bring his guitar to class and lead his students in songs of worship, his pastoral heart integrating scholarly theology with heartfelt doxology. Many of us will remember this unique integration – something that is too rare, sadly, and now even rarer with Stan’s passing.
Brian McLaren posts some thoughts ab Stanley Grenz.
Posted by Stephen at 3/13/2005 05:49:00 PM
- Watch this site for a Brian McLaren Eulogy.
- Family Note on Stan's site and a picture of his family.
- a special blog set up by Mars Hill Graduate School where Stan taught.
Posted by Stephen at 3/13/2005 01:28:00 PM
Grenz Family Remembers Stan Grenz
Stan Grenz passed away early in the morning March 12, 2005 24 hours after suffering a massive brain hemhorage. He will be greatly missed by us all. Thank you for your notes of support.
Doug Pagitt gives us a heads up that the family has posted their picture and this message on Stan's website.
Posted by Stephen at 3/13/2005 12:59:00 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Terrible News: Stan Grenz has Severe Brain Hemorrhage
Please pray for Stan Grenz. He had a severe brain hemorrhage yesterday and is not expected to live, according to Ivy Beckwith (via Doug Pagitt).
Please also pray for his wife and children - Edna, Joel and Corina. Stan's 55 years old.
jordon cooper posts this from Mars Hill Graduate School:
Mars Hill Community, It is with a broken heart that I write to tell you that last evening Stan Grenz suffered a significant surge in his blood pressure, which resulted in a major brain event, similar to a stroke or an aneurism. He is in an ICU unit at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, unconscious and on a ventilator, and it is expected that he will go home to be with His Lord.
It goes without saying that the world will suffer a great loss. Stan is a major thought leader in the theological world, a provocateur of many changed hearts, a beloved man of God and a dear friend. It appears likely the Lord will call him home, and we will miss him and mourn his passing forever. He will leave an indelible mark on each of us whether we knew him closely or from a distance. To the Mars Hill Community, he has been a great force for change and growth, and his fingerprints on our institution will be felt for generations. His legacy will certainly endure in our reinvented MDiv degree, one of his finest contributions to the theological community. We are honored to have him as part of our community, and privileged to have had his thought leadership grace us. Through our pain, we will find great resolve and courage to ensure his impact will live on in the generations of leaders yet to be.
As we know more, I will keep you posted. Jason Best will be sending out a linkage to a special blog site for us to interact with each other during this painful and difficult time. I would ask that you NOT be in direct contact with Stan’s family or the hospital at this time to give them needed space to prepare, plan, grieve and take care of themselves. When we know more, we can plan for how we as a community will respond.
In the meantime, on Monday afternoon from 1-2:30 when Stan would have been teaching his class at MHGS, those who are available and would like to will gather in classroom one to pray, process and celebrate Stan’s life and impact on us.
May His love and kindness sustain us all now and in the days ahead.
Posted by Stephen at 3/12/2005 11:36:00 AM
Looking for your Stuff
I am an avid Google Desktop user. It rocks. After you download it, it takes a few hours and indexes all your
- Outlook email
- word docs
- excel docs
- powerpoint docs
- pdf files
- AOL IM chats
- Internet browsing.
At work they were uncomfortable with the feature that sends all of this to Google (though you can turn this off when you install it) and so they've blocked it. I complained and was directed to Lookout Search, which actually turns out to be more configurable than Google and operates from within Outlook (though it also searches on all docs). I'm finding I prefer it.
e.g. I have 2775 Contacts in my contact folder. Lookout Search is far faster (because of pre-indexing) that the standard search functionality within Outlook. Moreover, Google Desktop doesn't include Contacts in its indexing.
Posted by Stephen at 3/12/2005 10:03:00 AM
Friday, March 11, 2005
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Michael Polanyi: Towards a Transpropositional Mode of Leadership Development and Spiritual Formation
In his recent Off-the-Map Interview, Alpha President and Emerging Church Coach Todd Hunter mentioned Michael Polanyi.
I was introduced to Polanyi a few years ago when I listened to Ken Myers' outstanding audio introduction to him - Tacit Knowing, Truthful Knowing: The Life and Thought of Michael Polanyi, one of Myers' Mars Hill Audio publications. (You can read a review of Mars Hill Audio's Polanyi Intro here).
Myers' intro does a good job at simply explaining Polanyi's epistemology, which comprised an implicit critique of modernity. One particular effective means by which he does that is by interviewing Wendy and Peter Moes, who are Master Violin Makers. The Moes explain how making violins is art as well as science. Wendy speaks to how making a fine violin transcends numbers and specifications. Peter talks about the specific source of wood he has found in Europe and how he cannot propositionally explain how to select the right wood for a fine violin - how he must touch and feel the wood to measure its appropriateness. The intro talks about Polanyi's interest in the master - apprentice relationship and how true learning occurs in a way that transcends mere proposition transfer.
His thinking has profound implications for how the church trains her leaders and equips Christ's followers. It also informs education more generally.
Polanyi influenced the faithmappers' formulation of transpropositionality, which was also influenced through the participation and thinking of the late philosopher Jon Gold - also one of the faithmappers.
for More on Polanyi
Posted by Stephen at 3/10/2005 09:31:00 AM
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
When Does it Become Viral?
Charlie Wear asks the question.
I believe the answer is when we relationalize what we learn. When we take our new (old?) propositions and make them transpropositional toward God and others.
I love what Eugene Peterson writes in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (the very title of which is germane to Charlie's question):
Spirituality begins in theology (the revelation and understanding of God) and is guided by it. And theology is never truly itself apart from being expressed in the bodies of the men and women to whom God gives life and whom God then intends to live a full salvation life (spirituality)
In truth, the two operate together in synergy (see Epistemology and Theology: Holistic Theology). Our understanding of the Blessed One and our incarnating that understanding is a dance.
When we do this with whatever resonates with us of the Emerging Church Conversation (and that's different for different folks; the movement is protean), then we become the sneezers to which Charlie alludes and of whom Seth Godin writes. Websites, books, conventions, and blogs are all a part of this; but, from an on-the-ground perspective, it is the human connection that could propel the emerging church conversation (or threads of it) past the tipping point.
So we have to ask ourselves: How are we incarnating what we know? Are we executing what we know with God and others?
Posted by Stephen at 3/09/2005 12:04:00 AM
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Todd Hunter, Alpha, & and the Emerging Church
Todd is currently the President of Alpha USA, an organization that is focused on motivating and equipping Christians to connect with missing people in natural ways. This role allows Todd the opportunity to express his leadership and creativity in his core area of passion -- evangelism. Todd is the former President of the National Association of Vineyard Churches and has been involved in church planting and leadership development for 25 years. Over the past few years Todd has spent a great deal of his time working with young/emerging church leaders.
OTM: Isn't Alpha really more appealing to "the boomers"?
When I first began investigating the Alpha Course, I too thought that might be the case. While Alpha is reaching a lot of boomers who are churched, but unbelieving, in mainline congregations, that is not the only place Alpha works well. Here are two representative courses that demonstrate another large and growing aspect of Alpha. In Midtown Manhattan-normally thought of as a center for secular, post-Christian, postmodern culture-- at St. Bartholomew's Episcopalian church, my friend Nancy Hanna ran an Alpha course for several years. A couple thousand people went through the course. The average age of people coming to faith was 26. A sociologist measured this phenomenon and discovered that these young people not only made "decisions" but became rooted in that community of faith, gave of their time, money and energy, served the poor, etc. In central London, also normally viewed as secular, postmodern, post Christian culture, the same phenomenon can be seen at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican congregation (www.htb.org.uk). Several hundred young people are on each of their three annual courses. Again, the average age of people becoming Christ-followers on the course is in the mid-twenties. These two examples and others I have seen since lead me to believe that a thoughtful person who honestly loves secular, postmodern, post Christian people, can use the Alpha course in a way that appeals to all age groups. It just takes a little thought and creativity.
Off-the-Map interviews Todd Hunter.
Posted by Stephen at 3/08/2005 04:49:00 AM
Monday, March 07, 2005
Sunday, March 06, 2005
The Last Word and the Word After That (pre-release copy)
As of 9:26 AM on Sunday 6 March, the bidding is up to $112.60 in Jen Lemen's ebay effort to raise money to help those starving in Burundi.
Posted by Stephen at 3/06/2005 09:26:00 AM
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Eugene Peterson on Spirituality
All these words get so screwed up in our society. If intimacy means being open and honest and authentic, so I don't have veils, or I don't have to be defensive or in denial of who I am, that's wonderful. But in our culture, intimacy usually has sexual connotations, with some kind of completion. So I want intimacy because I want more out of life. Very seldom does it have the sense of sacrifice or giving or being vulnerable. Those are two different ways of being intimate. And in our American vocabulary intimacy usually has to do with getting something from the other. That just screws the whole thing up.
It's very dangerous to use the language of the culture to interpret the gospel. Our vocabulary has to be chastened and tested by revelation, by the Scriptures. We've got a pretty good vocabulary and syntax, and we'd better start paying attention to it because the way we grab words here and there to appeal to unbelievers is not very good.
The author of Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places is interviewed by Mark Galli in CT. Galli also expresses how he got a transpropositional taste of Peterson's spirituality.
Posted by Stephen at 3/05/2005 01:46:00 PM
Friday, March 04, 2005
heroism in the midst of a sad tragedy
The intelligence agent was killed when he threw himself over Sgrena to protect her from U.S. fire, Apcom quoted Gabriele Polo, the editor of the leftist Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, as saying. Sgrena works for Il Manifesto.
Posted by Stephen at 3/04/2005 09:17:00 PM
The Complete "In the FoxHole" Series
Part 1 - Strength before Strength
Part 2 - Pain as Teacher
Part 3 - Waiting
Part 4 - Strength in Christ
Part 5 - Learned Optimism
Part 6 - Abide in the Vine
Part 7 - Practising His Presence
Part 8 - Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus
Part 9 - Maintaining a Theocentric Mindset
Part 10 - Abide in the Vine Redux and Back to Theology
Now I have to just do it. The War continues. Writing this has helped me. I hope that reading it is of some service to you.
Posted by Stephen at 3/04/2005 12:43:00 PM
Thursday, March 03, 2005
One Copy of McLaren's The Last Word...and the Word After That Available
i happen to have in my possession a very renegade copy of the galleys to brian mclaren's latest book--"the last word and the word after that" (last in the trilogy that began with "a new kind of christian"). for those of you who don't know, this is one of the last copies of the book before it goes to final print & it's full of a few endearing typos and the occasional author's note, though perfect in every other way. how i obtained this copy shall remain top secret, but let's just say if you're a best-selling author it probably isn't such a good idea to let me lounge around your house with your wife and children for weeks on end eating the rest of your ice cream or rummaging around your desk looking for a decent pen.
Jen Lemen is selling it on eBay. Thanks to DJ for the heads up.
Posted by Stephen at 3/03/2005 09:00:00 AM
Lost - Wrapping our Brains Around Pain
Beth and I are huge Lost fans. So if you don't watch it, this post won't be that interesting to you. Last night Hurley, who we learn won a multi-million dollar lottery before being stranded on the island, is driven to find out if the numbers he used are cursed. By the end of last night's episode, he meets the French Woman and she- who also has experience with these numbers - agrees with him that the numbers are cursed. This brings Hurley a measure of peace.
I mention this only because it was so interesting to me that the mere knowledge that what he was going through was to some extent explainable gave Hurley some contentment in his situation.
As Christians sometimes our analagous mental relationship with pain is more nuanced. Sometimes we have no immediate knowledge of why we're going through what we're going through; all we have is the knowledge of having a loving and all-wise Father. We know He knows and sometimes that's all we have to rest in. Consider: as far as we know Job never knew on earth the backstory of his troubles.
Posted by Stephen at 3/03/2005 07:49:00 AM