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Posts from April 2010

Thinking about Begbie's critique on emerging church

What a delightful talk. I blogged a few days ago on Dr. Jeremy Begbie's talk at Wheaton regarding N.T. Wright and the emerging church. Deeply respectful and honoring. In fact, I have given some thought to the three Wrightian themes that Begbie believes emerging church leaders would do well to pay attention to:

1. ASCENSION.

Begbie: EC should take the ascension more seriously because they tend to collapse it into the resurrection, losing the sense of Christ apart from his church, standing OVER his church as Lord and High Priest, leading to either "strident triumphalism on the one hand or painful disillusionment on the other."

TSK Response: OK, touche! This is most likely just as Begbie observes, and if so, it is not because the emerging church has put forward a new, closer, more localised Jesus but rather because so many of us have come through the charismatic movement, or the seeker movement, or have a background in Anabaptist or radical reformed thinking. The criticism could just as easily be made to all of us.

2. ISRAEL.

Begbie: In the EC is a huge Christological stress amidst much "trinitarian enthusiasm" but lacking in OT, history of Israel, etc.

TSK Response. Well said. I often put forward a trinitarian emphasis with a focus on Christ but this is the default position of my evangelical background. However, over the past few years, my teaching has been increasingly based on OT themes, in particular my ecclesiology. I am growing in this, as many of us are. And Tom Wright might be partially responsible, as I said in my previous post on this topic.

3. CATHOLICITY

Begbie: More catholicity is needed, both QUALITATIVE [rising above affinity groups, or culture specific groupings] and EXTENSIVE [spatial catholicity] in which the EC should follow Tom Wright's example of pursuing greater connection with boring traditional streams of Christianity. [my paraphrase]

TSK Quick Response: Here I find some tension. If you see the emerging church movement as primarily a missiological movement with a theological backing and not the other way around, as I do, the critique loses some steam. From my observations, I think that:

Continue reading "Thinking about Begbie's critique on emerging church" »


Blogging For Profit

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Even if you dont make money from your blog, Darren and Chris will help you blog better. And the new updated Problogger book, just released today, will bring you up to date. As for me, I am removing Google ads from my site again because I hardly make any money off them and because, despite years of watching my blog, they still post ads like the one this morning. Really!

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If anyone wants to sponsor this blog, let me know and I will put up a badge for you if your bid is successful. My mother will see your banner every day and she is a big spender, believe me. And my Aunty Olwen also. And also, if you dont have any money but your cause is worthwhile, talk to me anyway.


Holy Spirit Movement: We need a miracle

Dave Gibbons at Exponential last week said that the nomenclature in the church world has shifted over the last 20 years from megachurch to multisite to movement. Good observation, although I would add that many of us shifted over to "movement in the mid 1990's thanks to teachers like John Robb, Thom Wolf and David Garrison. Glad to see the American mainstream church is catching up.

Dave says we need to focus on movements of the Holy Spirit, rather than people and numbers. I agree. Its God's church and its God's movement and God is building up his body in His way and in His time. I want to humbly offer a little addition to Dave's message.

Question: How do you know the Holy Spirit is at work and not just your own adrenaline, or the timely implentation of your ministry plan.

In a word, a miracle.

Dr Thom Wolf told us about a church planing movement in the Philippines, possibly related to Met Castillo of "The Church in Thy House", where they refused to start a new church unless there was some miracle, some significant healing, or exorcism or supernatural demonstration of God's power that created a tongue-wagging gossip about the gospel situation in that town. Before that miracle happened, they would pray and share the good news of Jesus and lead the new believers into maturity . . BUT . . they would not start a new community until God made it clear that the timing was right. And he would do so through a public demonstation that was obvious to all.

In my experience, the most successful church plants could all point to a moment in time when something beyond the church planter's control happened - a miracle of sorts - and that gave them the confidence that God was at work, that what they were building was part of a Holy Spirit movement, and more than just a great idea.


More random things

1. The Lord's Prayer in Elvish

2. Twible.

Jana Reiss is twittering her way through the Bible in one year. 140 characters or less each morning, just as USA Today told us. Check out #twible on twitter.

twible

3. Name the movie.

Daniel Downey gave me permission to blog the intriguing email he sent me this morning.

Hey Andrew, Hope that you are well. We met once upon a time at a conference in Budapest.

Hey, here are my whimsical thoughts about seed planting which came to mind after listening to John MacArthur’s sermon.No pressure to listen, I’m sure that you’re quite busy. I posted it on facebook and gave a bottle of wine to the first person who figured out the name of the movie that I hid in the sermon. There are 19 clues that point to the movie.

Enjoy,

Daniel Downey

Rain Must Fall

1.             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzN4-qm_AdY

2.            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex22k4hLAe0


4. A movie to reclaim Mothers Day


With $14 billion spent on Mother's Day, have we've lost touch a bit with the Mother's Day story? Pastor Ron Lewis looks into the beginnings of America's Mother's Day and invites us to reclaim it's original proclamations.


Anglicans in the Global South: 80/20

Chris Sudgen of Anglican Mainstream shared this morning on email:

"The Global South Communique speaks of the Global South being "the vast majority of the active membership of the Anglican Communion". A review of the statistics available would bear this out and gives a percentage of about 80 percent.

On the Anglican Communion Office website the number is given as 80 million. This cannot be the case given a proper understanding of the figures for the Church of England. Of these 80 million, 26 million are reckoned to be with the Church of England. The Church of England official statistics gives the total attendance for all ages on Christmas Eve / Christmas Day 2008 as 2.6 million. ( see http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/) So the real total for the Anglican Communion needs to be reduced by at least 20 million."

Read on for numbers in the global south:


Continue reading "Anglicans in the Global South: 80/20" »


Begbie: N.T. Wright and Emergent Ecclesiologies

As I was walking through the high desert mountains of North Africa this morning with a German army shovel in my hand, looking for a suitable place to dig a toilet, I was listening to Dr Jeremy Begbie on my ipod. He was talking at Wheaton about the "eschatology" of N.T. Wright, which he pronounces in his delightful English accent, "eSCHATology", rather than the American "eschaTOLogy".

To be honest, I wasn't paying much attention, I was simply looking for a proper grounding for my scatology, or at least a practical outworking of it. But as I returned from my adventure, feeling lighter in both mind and body, i was able to give more attention to his lecture on Tom Wright's theology and emergent ecclesiologies.

As for the lecture, it was damn funny and a bloody good show from Dr Jeremy Begbie who attempts to explain the "odd" connection between N.T. Wright and the interest in him from emerging churches. A good oversight of the lecture is given by given by JR [Rozko, not Woodward] but I highly recommend downloading and listening to the whole thing. Thanks JR!! Could someone shoot JR a thank you tweet and then let me know . . . who shot JR? he he he.

Begbie mentions a meeting between Tom Wright and emerging church leaders in the UK, one that discussed a "reverse ecclesiology" in which the future of God's people should be a starting point for the church. That meeting was in 2004. I was there. Some of us wrote reports on that meeting, including Richard Sudworth, Jason Clark, Gareth Powell and Jonny Baker. I blogged it also but what I didn't say back then is that Tom and I had a private chat about the idea of the superimposition of the Kingdom of God over our present existence, something that I have noticed in the fantasies of George MacDonald. And sure enough, Tom Wright had also read MacDonald and agreed with me.

I am sure it totally transformed his life! Yeah right.

All 5 points of Begbie's lecture ring true but especially the first - the intrinsic nature of Tom's theology which is attractive, especially for those brought up on a more disconnected systematic theology, in which all areas of knowledge seem to hang by themselves on branches of a tree, self-existant and lonely for connection.

Begbie also suggests 3 features of Wrights theology that emerging churches would do well to pay attention to. This summary from Jim Vining

3 Elements of N.T. Wright’s Work that Emerging Churches often Neglect

1. Ascension of Jesus: Jesus, the risen Messiah, is standing over the Church. The Church is not filling the void of Jesus. Remembering this reality prevents both triumphalism and disillusionment. The Holy Spirit is the key link between the Church and the risen Messiah.
2. Israel: The Church must understand the story of Israel to ground us in the appropriate context.
3. Catholicity of the Church [Qualitative] – The Church transcends all social, cultural, and natural divisions. Jesus gives a new way of relating to each other. Unlike consumerism which segments people, the Church includes all kinds of people are included. The victory of Jesus over the powers of darkness is shown in an inclusive Church.[Extension] – The Church is comprised of all believers in all places in all time. The united Church must have some physical presence beyond clusters of homogeneous units. There must be some kind of institution. Many in the emerging church view institutionalism as the enemy, but avoidance of institutions is often an attempt to avoid the pain of Church unity.

Good critique. [UPDATE: I give more thought to them on a new post here]
On my part, my teaching on ecclesiology has taken on a more OT basis over the past few years. If you heard me teach at the EC roundtable event last summer in Poland, most of it was spent cruising through OT passages (Abraham's promise, Daniels vision of a mountain, Ezekiel, Isaiah), all part of a vital background to this new holy mountain that we have come to and become a part of. I also find myself using the letter to the Hebrews a lot more in explaining ecclesiology in addition to the book of Acts and the Pauline letters. See my thoughts on keeping the virtual church real.
How much of this has been influenced by Tom Wright? I dont know but it is probably a lot. I know that when I read the books of N.T. Wright, I find a resonance in the questions he asks of the texts, as well as the answers he arrives at. Theology must be more integrated, more "instrinsic" [thanks Jeremy], more interweaved with the whole story of God.

We need harmony as well as melody. That's why we like Uncle Tom.
And I realise I havent owned up to any of these 3 criticisms but before I do, any one else want to respond? Do we view institutionalism as the enemy?

NewbiginsMissionalShampoo-tm_1.jpgAlso: On the subject of Lessie Newbigin, which Jeremy Begbie feels we have neglected, or at least have pushed his emphasis on the cross to the back, he should know that many of us have immersed ourselves in Newbigin's writings over the years. I still remember Mark Driscoll in the early years yapping on and on over meals about Lesslie Newbigin (which he pronounced with an American "N" like in "New York"). Dang. I have 7 Newbigin books on my shelf and love what than man wrote, ESPECIALLY his focus on the cross. In fact, if I remember my readings correctly, his address at the Willingen missions conference in 1952, where the idea of 'missio dei' was taking shape, was exclusively about the cross - See Missions Under The Cross, Goodall, 1953.

BTW -I was thoroughly disappointed when a book criticing the emerging church, Reforming or Conforming: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church- probably the most thoughtful critique I had read - only vaguely referred to the influence of Lesslie Newbigin, and then provided nothing to chew on. Unfortunately, even though he was quoted, like, three times in the book, it didnt appear than any of the writers had actually read the books by Lesslie Newbigin. One of the writers, D.A. Carson, thought the word "missional" originated with Newbigin. It didn't, as we all know. But much of the wind behind our missional sails was provided by Newbigin.

Related on TSK: Does the emerging missional church have reformed heritage?
Previously on TSK: Tom Wright on Justification, Tom Wright and the Emerging church, Tom Wright's 'Surprised By Hope' is my Top Book of 2008


John MacArthur on Exponential

No, John MacArthur is not, I repeat NOT, at the Exponential conference and if he was, he wouldn't be headed off for a beer with all you backsliders!

But if you want to really know about the heart of the exponential idea, I suggest you listen to John MacArthur's superb message last week at TG42010 called "The Theology of Sleep" [Download]. John mentions the word "exponential" a few times, although not in reference to the conference. Although it does seem particularlarly well-timed. Hah Hah.

In teaching on the parable of the soils, MacArthur suggests that if you plant a pure gospel seed in good soil, you can go away and sleep because God will take care of the rest. And that growth will be exponential. Or in his words, God has determined an exponential outcome.

And he is right. Sometimes we call this concept "autopoiesis"which is related to emergent behavior and scale-free networks, neither of which John MacArthur got into in his excellent message. Some of the guys teaching at Exponential might get into this: Look out for Neil Cole who is all over this and has a new book called Church 3.0.

de evil"Autopoiesis" literally means "auto (self)-creation" (from the Greek: auto – αυτό for self- and poiesis – ποίησις for creation or production), and expresses a fundamental dialectic between structure and function. . . . The term [Autopoiesis] was originally introduced by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in 1972 [from Wikipedia]

The guy who nailed this idea from the parable of the soils and its relation to this all-by-itself-kind-of-growth called autopoiesis was Christian A. Schwartz from Germany. Check it out in his book called Natural Church Development, 1996. [PDF - yes! its a free download]

Previously on TSK: Exponential 2010: Attend or Avoid


Come over to Macedonia and help us!

He he. I always wanted to say that. Its what a man said to the Apostle Paul in a vision. It worked too. Paul went over to Macedonia and sure enough, there was a WOMAN waiting for him [was God being TRICKSY??] and things started happening.

Well, we are gathering young church planters, missional entrepreneurs and Apostle-Paul-Wannabes for a roundtable in Orchid, Macedonia, June 11-13, 2010. And we are doing this in partnership with 24/7 Prayer because:

1. We had such a good time with the 24/7 leaders in our Poland roundtable last year

2. God has placed the Balkans on our hearts and we think its time for a roundtable there

3. The 24/7 people were organizing an event there anyway. We will join their party and also have our own breakout moments of glory.

If you are interested, or know someone working anywhere in Central/Eastern Europe or the Balkan area, send me an email. tallskinnykiwi @ gmail dot com


Traveling and NOT stranded at airports

In case you were wondering,

NO we are not stranded by airport closures . . .

YES we are still traveling . . .

BECAUSE we travel by road these days, city by city, country by country, bringing our kitchen and bed with us. Its not as fancy but we get there. Its a LOT cheaper and, as we noticed this week, its a LOT more reliable.