Tuesday, December 13, 2005

more discussion on the emergent village organization's meeting with synagogue 3000 and a couple of comments

I'm beginning to write a paper on Christian-Muslim Interfaith dialogue, and the idea that we engage in dialogue, or social projects for the "opportunity to introduce someone to Christ" just doesn't cut it for me. We engage in dialogue because we want to know more about the 'other' and, as Vincent Donovan says in his book The Church in the Midst of Creation, we do so always "open to conversion - conversion to a fuller truth. If we are not open to conversion, then the process we are invovled in is not one of evangelization but of proselytism. If we are not open to conversion, then we have no right to enter into true religious dialogue" (116).

So, dialogue, and actions like this move of Emergent to meet with S3K, are actions that ARE (in my estimate) about conversion: not trying to get Jews to becomes Christians - that is, I'm sure, not even on the radar of Jones or McLaren (I have no idea, because I haven't spoken with them - but I would HOPE that would not be on their radar). But rather to place ourselves in postures where we can engage with one another, be open to being 'converted' to a fuller truth, and be able to bring about God's Kingdom.

Adam Cleaveland

Be sure to see the comments for the full discussion.

I would comment

  • that I believe there is a place for partnering with people of other faith communities or of no faith community for good and positive ends,

  • that I think there can be a knee-jerk, legalistic motivation to be sure we deliver the jesus info in every human interaction,

  • that there is a cultural imperialism that we must seek to avoid and that can be a hindrance to the gospel,

  • that Christians can learn from other faith traditions, but

  • that I can't see those four beliefs representing a barrier to my expressing my

    • 1) love and faith in Jesus and

    • 2) my love for the person in front of me

      by telling that someone in front of me about God's greatest gift to Mankind - if there's opportunity - at the right time and in the right way!
I wonder if the underlying presupposition that's being danced around (and implicitly debated) is the scandal of Christian particularlity?

All this being said, I wish to allow for the possibility that Adam was writing iconoclastically and against an arrogant religious imperialism.

I post this to extend the discussion.

mage from stock.xchng


Rich said...

I agree with your concerns Stephen. It worries me that the issues are being fudged for whatever reason/s. Jesus was not compromising over His demand that we should repent and be born again in Him.

I too, encourage people to dialogue with other cultural/religious/racial groups, but I do also hold to the supremacy of Christ - He is above all things. In dialoguing, I seek to point the way to/of Christ. This does not have to be in arrogance, or in shame, but in God-given (genuine) humility and faith.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the underlying presupposition that's being danced around (and implicitly debated) is the scandal of Christian particularity?

I would say so, and I would also guess that that is precisely where such dialogues would unravel, if and when they do. I'll go back and look, but I also don't remember seeing anything in the NT akin to the disciples dialoguing with the unbelieving Jews or the Filistines, etc., for the purpose of reaching a common furtherance of God's Kingdom. I'm not being flip here; I just don't see a common vision (an equal yoke, if you will) between people who "obey the gospel" and follow Jesus into the Kingdom and those who do not obey it, and thus cannot follow Jesus ... into the Kingdom. And I agree with Rich - holding to the supremacy of Christ and pointing the way to him is not in itself an act of arrogance (or cultural imperialism, or any other bad thing). It's just what we do.

I'd bring up the "not all good work is Kingdom work" aspect of this, but I'm sure I'd quickly become emergent flambé.


Anonymous said...

I hope whatever is concluded some of this will help those Christians in Sudan...they need it!

Stephen said...

I definitely think we're looking at a Both/And for that sort of thing.

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Good followup. I enjoy Adams blog, and I though about posting in reply to that article, but you got me beat! Good stuff!

Robbymac said...

What I found profoundly disturbing was that the emergent-what discussion was respectful and proactive, while expressing some concerns, and the response we got from prominent emergent people was (and is) basically "how dare you simpletons question us".

That kind of response, and the intensity of it, came out of left field for the majority of us; we would have never suspected that we could so quickly and easily be dissed and dismissed.

As several of us tried to make clear, we're part of the emerging conversation too, but maybe we're not after all. Sorry for the sarcasm, but it's beginning to feel like there's a "party line" that we must adhere to, or lose our place in the conversation.