Some of you may be interested in the Critical Concerns Course that Zondervan sponsored for pastors who wanted to come a day early to learn about the emerging church movement. First off, I’m grateful to Zondervan, John Raymond, and to Tony Jones for inviting me. It has been a blast so far. Personal notes at bottom.
Tuesday Dan Kimball led off by charting his own journey into the emerging movement. It began for him with a question about methodology and this led him to changes in worship; then it moved beyond age groups and the church within a church phenomenon. This led Dan to rethinking ecclesiology: what is the church, after all? then he began to rethink theology itself. And he has settled now into “being the Church.” He had a great powerpoint presentation, and fielded questions well and with pastoral tact. Dan’s about a nice of a guy as you’ll meet.
Ryan Bolger, from Fuller, then spoke of the penetrating and permeating features of the emerging movement that had to be overcome:
1. A modern truncated theology.
7. Truncated spirituality.
Again, very good session with some good questions.
Doug Pagitt started with a clip from Bruce Springsteen’s song about dust and devils (or something like that — Springsteen’s words are always a bit muffled to my ears). Leading Doug to this comment: “How much of this was I thinking of when I began — none of it; how much of this was I feeling when I began — all of it.”
Doug then proposed that the emerging movement will see (1) a non-church-centric theology, (2) a revealist rather than revivalist mindset, and (3) a theory in which belief itself is a praxis.
Finally, LeRon Shults on decentering renewal and the disturbing Spirit. LeRon, a professor at Bethel, proposed a centrigugal perception of the Church (missional), that control is not a concern for the work of God, and the Spirit disturbs with both fear and hope. As the universe is de-centered, so the Church needs to be as well. His final comment: salvation is not about being “in or out” but about re-ordering communities.
These folks have all written books but I’m not going to set up links for each them here.
Had a lunch-interview with a writer, and at the table were Doug and Shelly Pagitt, Dan Kimball, LeRon Shults, and yours truly. Another writer trying to make sense of this emerging thing.
I learned that Ryan Bolger is brother of a former student of mine, Eric Bolger, who is a professor at College of the Ozsrks.
Dinner conversation was with Dan Kimball and his interest in responding to the Jesus Seminar and to the religious parallels to the life of Jesus in Egyptian and Persian stuff.
And John Burke and I talked at length about foundationalism and postmodernity; and also about his church and things going on now at Willow. Randy Frazee, a new pastor at Willow, and his wife came by earlier in the evening. It was good to meet him.
Tony Jones and I sat on his porch and chatted about my book on atonement and about things emergent. I’m impressed with Tony’s pastoral approach to all things as well as with his theological interests. In fact, I would rate these folks as some of the most theologically-interesting folks I’ve been around.