Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"are you emergent?"

If your shelves are lined with books with names on their spines like Burke, Pagitt, Ward, Chalke, and Tomlinson... If the links on your laptop suggest you connect readily to Miller, Bell, McLaren, Rollins and McManus...

Then you owe it to yourself - and to those you influence- to read Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck, Why We're Not Emergent (by two guys who should be) (Moody, 2008). But be at peace as you do so because one of the authors does affirm "I don't consider myself a Carson fan or admirer." (I know how just saying the letters "D" and "A" gets emerging people a bit twitchy). Interestingly, DA Carson does still endorse the book!


May I make three comments about the book?

(a) For me the most searching critique is the way this movement runs the risk of falling victim to the errors of the very modernism (not to mention the old liberalism) from which it so strenuously distances itself. Very perceptive... Ohh - let me squeak in one other critique - n30 on p86 - referring to a comment from DA Carson: "emerging church leaders, unlike the Reformers, are calling for change because the culture has moved. The Reformers, by contrast, were calling for change because the church had moved - away from the Bible."

(b) In the Epilogue lies one of the most positive suggestions I have heard yet. If you are a pastor why not do a preaching series through The Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev 2 & 3) as a framework in which to handle the issues which the emerging movement raises? Be faithful to the issues in the text - but with an eye on this context. A brilliant suggestion...

(c) One single quotation that is one sentence long will do - but it is a very, very long sentence. Are you ready? It carries something of the cheeky, chirpy tone of the book. Here goes...

Are you Emergent?
You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash's Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; ... if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don't like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism, or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren't sure it can be found; if you've ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn't count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naive, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; if you believe who goes to hell is no one's business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word 'story' in all your propositions about postmodernism - if all or most of this tortously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian..." (20-22)

... and you need to read this book carefully!!



nice chatting

Paul

Friday, September 19, 2008

before and after II

Back on May 1 I shared with you that not only had I been granted some study leave, someone had gifted me five months in a gym with a personal trainer.

I made myself accountable to you with a 'before' photo of me with the promise that I would include an 'after' photo as well, just to help inspire others among you who need to drop a few kilos.

The time with the trainer is concluded. Just as a reminder, here is that 'before' photo once again:


And now - for the first time - I am able to reveal the 'after' photo.


A nice shot in the swimming pool at the Olympic Gym (Newmarket, Auckland) where my personal trainer (Robin Leaton) has been a miracle-man, I'm sure you will agree. He is always happy to take on new clients.


nice chatting

Paul

Friday, September 12, 2008

up and down and out

Into the margins of my life I am trying to squeeze assignments for my DMin. My focus at the moment is on the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. I am loving it for all sorts of reasons - not the least being the parallels between it and my favourite story of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus.

This morning I have been captured by some quotations in the Ben Witherington commentary on Acts (Eerdmans, 1998).

On page 293:
A major theme of Luke-Acts is the "universalization of the gospel - that it is for all people from the last, least, and lost to the first, most, and found."

A footnote took me back to his introductory pages where I found these words on page 69:
Luke is interested "in the universal spread of the good news not only up and down the social scale but geographically outward to the world ... one can say then that the Gospel of Luke focuses on the vertical (up and down the social scale) universalization of the gospel, while the Book of Acts focuses on horizontal universalization (to all peoples throughout the Empire)."

That really gets me going!

nice chatting


Paul

Monday, September 08, 2008

alyssa and timothy

A new season in our lives beckons with the engagement of our lovely Alyssa to Tim Hart. Barby and I couldn't be more delighted. Tim has been in and out of our home for three years and has been a friend to each one in the family long before talk of engagement commenced.

Here is my favourite photo of the two of them:


Their friendship gained momentum around a mutual love for photography. Here they are with their favourite tree, looking somewhat less alive than their friendship!


We are thrilled to see their desire to serve Jesus together forever. They are committed to expressing this service by living their lives with compassion among the global poor - so much so that Tim left for Liberia just four days after they became engaged. He will be working with two church youth groups in Monrovia ... and will be away for 12 months. They have no plans to see each other during that time. GULP?!




Ahh - there must be room for one more photo of my lovely Lys! Sure - why not?! Here she is showing off her ring.


nice chatting

Paul

Monday, September 01, 2008

tv news

Whether it be the evening TV news, the midday news, or the morning news there are three features with which I am increasingly frustrated.

It is copy-cat
Whenever I travelled to Australia I would smile at how much they copied the Americans. From extending news broadcasts beyond the evening hour ... to single news readers becoming male:female combinations ... to a fascination with weather reports from quirky eccentrics ... to the actual template of the broadcast - on and on it goes. Then a few years later we find New Zealand slavishly copying Australia. [One of the few distinctions I can identify is that the Aussies and the Americans like their male readers to be older in order to convey greater authority and gravitas].

It is casual
When so much of the news is bad news, even tragic news, I find the casual chit-chat between the presenters to be annoying. Light levity. Vacuuous commentary. Not only does this medium then clash with the message, it trumps the message. The serious sadness of human tragedy gets washed away in wasted and inane words. In recent weeks and months I have watched with alarm as the BBC and CNN have started selling-out to this approach.

It is 'celebritous'
One of the great mysteries of popular culture is just how it is that people who read the news off a tele-prompter can be paid so much money and gain so many headlines. The heroic becomes eclipsed by the celebritous. It is dragging us down. What is the relative time given by people today to the reading of a biography of a hero versus viewing the story of a celebrity? We are far more interested in the flaws of the latter than the character of the former ... and it shows.

As a follower of Jesus I want to affirm the way creativity is more important than copy-catting, being serious is more important than being casual, and following heroes is more important than watching celebrities.

nice chatting

paul