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Posts from August 2007

Rowland Whitehead (Bilbo) visits Orkney

S635757570 5184Rowland Whitehead is only here for a day but its an enjoyable time together. Rowland was part of the UK house church movement in the 1960's and is now encouraging new things in Barbados. We have been chatting about the history of the Jesus movement and the similarities with the current emerging church movement. I am helping him set up a blog right now - the man has LOTS of stories that should be told. His blog, a few seconds old, can be found at

Rowland went with the Bilbo name because he was asked recently whether his gift to the church was like Frodo or Bilbo and since he has been around for some time and is now helping the next generation find their place, he went with Bilbo.

Abigail's birthday

Yesterday was my daughter Abigail's birthday. She turned 12 and Dad was there. Which is a change because i have missed the last 3 birthdays since they always fall on Greenbelt Festival time. But I left Greenbelt a day early to get back home. I made a lasagna - her favourite food and the bakery across the road made a huge caramel donut for the cake. And Abigail was happy!!

Ecumenicism, Attack Dogs and Curious Cats

This morning I read David Aikman's interesting article on Christianity Today called Attack Dogs of Christendom. Of course the emerging church movement is quite blatantly on the firing line as you well know. Pastor Ken Silva gets a mention from David as the man "leading the charge against alleged ecumenicists", which might actually be true -Ken's daily postings have gained him a lot of search engine cred and authority for his bark. I don't believe Ken is the nastiest or the meanest. In fact, we have exchanged emails on occasion and I find him quite approachable and accountable. If he is critical that the emerging church re-appraises Reformation assumptions then he is correct. Many of us no longer believe the Roman Catholic Church is the most accurate representation of the Whore of Babylon. For that, we start by looking inside ourselves, which btw is a lot more dangerous than sticking with the anti-Catholic view of 17th Century Reformers under threat of losing their land and their power to Rome. Maybe there is a bit of Babylon in all of us.

Take the "Which Theologian Are You?" quiz recommended by Andrew Kenny. I took it this morning and came out as John Calvin - which shows you a little of my theological background.

Regarding criticism of the emerging church, I think I was one of the earliest or perhaps the first [Dennis MacCallum was actively critical but had not yet published anything] to publish something critical (Postmodern Church Time-Capsule, 1999) but this was written as an insider and probably used too much humor to get a serious reading. And although my tone was satirical, I was presenting it as a correction and tongue-in-cheek encouragement rather than a mean, exaggerated dismissal. But since then, there have been many others. More recently, Don Carson and John MacArthur have written books to criticize the movement and there is a daily list of criticisms that emerge in my RSS reader. In fact, sometimes a search for "emergent" yields mostly critical responses and very few positives. Anyway, I don't propose to solve the whole thing today . . .

As for ecumenicism, I see the modern ecumenical movement as a viable one as long as it retains its original link the the missiology that birthed it (Edinburgh, 1910) and not a weak theological compromise. The word itself οἰκουμένη (oikoumene) is used in the Bible as "the whole inhabited world" which should be in the sights of every one who claims the name of Christ. Jesus's desire for oneness among his followers was made very clear and certain (John 17) and is not an option for us. We need to learn to get along, even with those who disagree with us. Ken, who is well-known for his anti-Billy Graham articles, sees the emerging church movement as bringing Protestants back to the Roman Catholic Church, who are somehow behind the ecumenical thrust.
I disagree. [Hi Ken!]
I believe the modern ecumenical movement was initiated by Protestants in the first part of the 20th Century and the Catholics did not warm to it until mid century. I also believe it was the charasmatic movement [thank you Chuck Smith] that achieved much of the present ecumenicism that the RCC now enjoys with Protestants rather than any emerging church attempts. In fact, there is much in the emerging church movement - such as decentralized leadership [priesthood of all believers?] - that Roman Catholic leadership still struggle with. Obviously there is much to do before the world is reconciled with God and itself . ..

How does the word "ecumenical" sit with you?

Related on TallSkinnyKiwi:
- The Skinny on Emergent Criticism (2004)
- Watchdog sites and emerging church criticism
- Cats and dogs at The Missional Church: Reformed Heritage?
- My experience with the Charasmatic Catholics

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Bloggers, let us link one another.

Hey, all you bloggers enjoying fellowship under the WIFI cloud at Greenbelt's Think Tank. I just want you to know that I will not be hanging with you this year since i am speaking on missions instead of new media but please know that I link you very much.
I LINK you all.
I really LINK you, man!
No . . you don't understand . . . I REALLY LINK YOU, MAN!
Bloggers, let us link one another and let the linkage abound among us. By this, will people know. Let us link our enemies, and those who never link us back. Link on.
See you next year.

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The Skinny on Greenbelt 2007

I am here! At Greenbelt Festival. Along with about 20,000 people. My tent is set up and sleeping bag rolled out. The weather is gloriously sunny and kind which is a problem because I didn't bring my hat or my sunglasses. The last 3 years have been rainy and cold so all my Greenbelt memories are of my shivering in the rain wishing i had dressed warmer.

Picture 2

Best bets for the Festival:
No. 1 - Coldcut. I met one of the Coldcut VJ's at Hang The VJ in London a few years ago and have been a fan ever since. I bought Sound Mirrors as soon as it was released. These guys invented their own VJ software to do their stuff and have been around for about 20 years. Pioneers. Really. And now performing at Greenbelt. Waaaaaaayyyy Cool!!!

Runners Up:
- John O'Donahue, poet and writer of blessings - which is a genre that might give me some space for some of my poetry. Read this one of John's and get blessed!
- Pete Rollins is featured as one of the headliners this year. Good. He has deserved it. He is a great thinker and great friend.
- Delirious are back. These guys are part of church history now and they still rock, despite being adored by the more mainstream church.
- Becky Garrison of The Door is speaking a few times on satire and new atheism. Her book on new atheism, when it comes out, quotes my blog post "The Skinny on New Atheism" so I know she is a person of great discerment and taste.
- Shannon Hopkins on entreprenuial stuff and The Truth Isnt Sexy.
- Ikon always does a great alt. worship thing.
- Fuse Factory, who we hung with throughout the summer, are doing a few things here, including visuals for communion on Sunday.

Billy Bragg is here and comes well recommended.
- Aussie statesman John Smith is around, again.
- Graham Cray always has something to say.
- Helen J. Hicks, who i met in London a few months ago, plays on Saturday. Apart from that, check out the Proost display. Proost relaunches on Saturday with a new website and a ministry resource company.
- I speak at 7pm in the CMS tent on being set free to be the church. If you come to my session, you will unfortunately miss the band Verra Cruz that we have run into already this summer at other festivals. My son hung with them in Italy last month at Rock on the Rock Festival. Everyone loves them. They will probably be HUGE one day so its a good opportunity to met them before their heads get too big.

After my session on Saturday, and also on Sunday, hymn singing in the organic beer tent is the obvious choice. Oh yeah - Beer and Hymns. Another best bet for the festival. Talkin' bout old fashioned hymns sung with a songsheet in one hand and a pint of St Peters ale in the other. Its the way, according to Paul Roberts, that hymns were intended. This was the surprise hit of last year and also the one event that had more noise violation complaints from the town folk. Which is surprising because it was all human voices, singing at the top of their lungs, and there wasnt a lot of amplification.

Sitting next to me:
Paul Roberts, who is sitting on my right, recommends the Foundation service called the "Un-knowing God" and also Doug Gay on emerging church.
Gareth Higgins, sitting on my left, says Peter Toscano (comedy), John Tavener, and his own film review of the year on Monday.

Anyway, thats the skinny. For another opinion, check out Greenbelt 07 at Dave Walker's Cartoon blog.

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Nexus, Glasgow

I am planning to be at the brand new Nexus conference in Glasgow this Thursday, 23rd. The Church Without Walls day seems good and it will be good to see Peter Nielsen again. I was invited to a lunch on the emerging church on Friday with a lecture from John Drane [sorry John - hope it goes really well for you] but unfortunately i will be traveling down to Cheltenham for Greenbelt Festival. Could the person who invited me to that lunch please contact me again - i have lost your email.

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My Talk at Greenbelt Festival this Saturday

This weekend I will be speaking at Greenbelt Festival on "Set Free to Be The Church". Saturday from 7pm at the CMS tent. Come along and fill up the empty seats so i don't DIE a humiliating death when nobody turns up at my session. I will try to tackle the new forms of church/community arising in this new media revolution, and the missiological insights that can free us to be the people of God as we should be. I hope to have a few guests with me who can speak about different areas of that freedom. Saturday 25th from 7pm to 8pm in the Church Missionary Society tent. In fact, CMS is running an excellent program on Setting The Captives Free which will tackle everything from stopping human trafficking to emerging church issues.

For the very elite few of you who attend my teaching sessions each year at Greenbelt, [God bless you . . every one!] here is a reminder of our journey so far.

WalkingcityIn 2004 my lecture was called Forward Slash: A Narrative Missiology. It dealt with "emerging culture, new media minds, a deep ecclesiology, new church structures, values of new media culture, ministry in a post-post-literate culture, and an apostolic pattern appropriate for this century."
I think you can buy the CD from Greenbelt here.

2005 - I spoke on the spirituality of blogging. We dipped into Athanasius and came up with about 10 ways in which blogging can be a spiritual discipline. Greenbelt neglected to record that earth-shattering moment but you can see the outline here.

2006 - I was there at Greenbelt but not speaking. Instead I joined the Fuse Factory VJ team and helped them set up their audio-visual installations.

2007 - I am flapping my lips again and hope to bring insights from the previous lectures into this new one. God help us all. C U THERE!

Weather forecast for Greenbelt
Dave Walker of Cartoon Church

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