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Posts from February 2008

New Conspirators Conference today

The New Conspirators. I have been talking about this conference for a long time. Now its here and if you live in Seattle, you should be there. Really. The list of contributors is really impressive.

the new conspirators imageIf you cant make the conference, at least buy the book. Its called The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time. Tom sent me the manuscript last year and I was really impressed with it. Tom and Christine Sine are possibly the most connected people I know to the wider emerging church scene AND the historic Jesus movement of the 70's in which they also had a part. It was the Sines that connected me with key leaders around the world including New Zealanders like Mark Pierson (who is speaking at the conference this weekend) and Emergent Kiwi Steve Taylor. They are always ahead of the game.

I stayed with the Sines a few months ago in Seattle and was really impressed with the monastic style community thats emerging there. I could waffle on and on but will shut up at this point and just say . . . buy the book and somehow find your way to hear them soon.

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Godblogcon 2008

Godblogcon has released its list of speakers for its conference in Las Vegas, Sep 21-22, 2008:

John Mark Reynolds of The Scriptorium
Andrew Jones - Tallskinnykiwi (hey, DUDE . . thats me!)
Wade Tonkin of Christian Affiliate Marketers
Roger Overton of The New Media Frontier (and you will know him from the A-Team blog)
Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio
Joe Carter of Family Research Council (who just did a great review on Caspian)
Mark Joseph of The Huffington Post

Should be good!

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Thank God for Evolution interview today with Michael Dowd

Today at 4pm eastern time on Shapevine. [actually, it just got rescheduled until March. Sorry] My friend Mike Morrell will be hosting a 45 minute interview with Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World.

Bookcover ReflectThank God for Evolution is a hefty, ambitious, glossy-colored book with an audacious title. It arrived a few months ago on my doorstep and to be honest, the book gave me the willies. I am not sure what the willies are, exactly, but i think i felt them. It had page after page of endorsements from everyone under the sun, from religious leaders of every stripe possible, and stripes I had never heard of, and then some more stripes. What a collection!

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Larry Norman (1947-2008)

Larry Norman, the "father of Christian rock" passed away yesterday. His friend and colleague Steve Camp has the skinny, and a song dedicated to him called "If I was a singer".

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I never met Larry but my wife who grew up in California heard him many times. In fact, his song "I wish we'd all been ready", combined with that image of a lawn mower running without its operator in the movie "Thief in the Night", scared the hell out of her and led to her conversion to Christ in the late 70's. I don't think she would embrace that form of eschatology anymore but hey - we both owe Larry a big thank you when we get to the next life. Larry's website is

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Good post on AnglicanFuture on micro-credit enterprises overseas. I was recently pointing to Henry Venn's suggestion of banks for Sierra Leone in the 1850's as a viable mission strategy for today. Its encouraging to see these projects around the world. Believe it or not, we are thinking through a micro-credit system here in Scotland for new businesses because most government funding is only for larger and more established enterprises.

C. Michael Patton's Charts on Orthodoxy and the Emerging Church

The conversation at Jesus Creed on C. Michael Patton's chart on orthodoxy and the emerging church is winding to a conclusionary pause and Patton has added more thoughts behind his attempt to map out the emerging church on the orthodoxy scale.

1. The first chart on conservative vs. liberal?


Nah. I don't feel that time-traveling to the 1920's dichotomy of fundamental/liberal to see which side we would land is the best way to reconnect a robust trust in the Scripture with a obedient commitment to social justice as outlined by the mandate of Jesus. I believe the story of the Bible is connected to the event - or in other words, those miracles of Jesus really happened - and so I am not a liberal. But I am also committed to the whole gospel as Jesus described it and that inclusion of justice and social transformation makes me appear suspect by fundamentalists. I prefer not to use the scale at all because its not helpful.

2. The Orthodoxy Chart?

I don't like it Sorry. I appreciate the effort of C. Michael Patton but these charts are neither helpful nor meaningful to me. I wondered why those particular authors were chosen to represent the emerging churches (and why authors and not network or emerging church ministry leaders?) and then I noticed that the 'emerging' and 'emergent were over to the side of Orthodox Christianity, rather than the center.

And who said orthodoxy was a fixed point in time rather than a moving target?

Shoot. What are we doing if it is not moving towards orthodoxy and orthopraxy? The emerging church movement, in my opinion, at least in my corner of the room, is at least an attempt to realign God's mission and the mission of the church in our generation with the way of Jesus and his apostles in a manner that resonates historically and theologically with what the catholic church has traditionally viewed as "orthodox". Patton has some good thoughts on what orthodoxy means, but I don't think he sees emerging church movement nudging the church towards orthodoxy in the way I do. His recent posts on his view on the emerging church [which says nothing about the missiological thinking behind the movement and seems to avoid the eschatological issues that are currently being raised by McLaren, Wright and Tony Jones] show that he sees the emerging church movement very differently than I do.

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D.H. Williams: Evangelicals and Tradition (book)

evangelicals tradition williams image

I am just finishing off the book Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influences of the Early Church(2005) by Baptist theologian D.H. Williams. Really good book and highly recommended for those wishing to revisit the early church and explore the relationship between the Scriptures and tradition. Williams argues that, according to the early fathers of the church, the Bible is not a one-dimensional book that gives way easily to detached scientific hermeneutical method, but rather is a multi-layered revelation. He warns against the dangers of a Sola Scriptura divorced from the foundational tradition of the church (Nuda Scriptura) and suggests a more mystical nature of Scripture that gives itself to the pure in heart in the context of worship and community. This reminded me of the late missiologist Paul Hiebert's doxological or "tropological" theology that I have discussed here under Icons and the Possibility of a Tropological Theology.

Buy the Book?

Maybe. Maybe not. If you haven't read any Williams, then his earlier book, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants is probably a better book. It is more edgy, prophetically cutting, and a more appropriate place for Protestants to start. 'Evangelicals and Tradition' brings out a few issues readers had with the earlier book but spends more time dealing with the relationship between Scripture and tradition and explores a hermeneutic that integrates mystery and allegory as well as the literal meanings on the surface. It feels more like a Seminary textbook that his earlier book.

The other book to buy as a companion to Retrieving the Tradition and one that links William's ressourcement challenge with the current emerging church movement is Remembering Our Future: Explorations in Deep Church, edited by Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton. This book, like Williams' Evangelicals and Tradition, are part of the same series called Deep Church, a term coined by C.S. Lewis in the 1950's.
After you have devoured those two books, Evangelicals and Tradition will make a tidy Trinity on your bookshelf . . . ah . . I mean trilogy.

Other Responses:
James Merrick

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Stuff with us this week.

- Debbie did a social enterprise course called "Sense and Sustainability" and I took a 3 day small business course on how to start up a business in Scotland. On Thursday, Debbie and I were in different rooms at the same building.
- Our cooperative had its first almost-official meeting last Sunday and we appointed Directors and decided on how this thing would run.

- Jessica Stricker is here for a few weeks from Austin . . and London.

- Electricians have reconnected the Sorting Room to the main grid and now, after a decade of no electricity, the lights turn on and the space is wired for action.
- Furniture action on Thursday and Jessica went for us. I bought two old stove for £1 each. Very cool. One from the 60's and the other from the 1940's. I also bought some old peat digging tools so we can start digging up our own peat from the ground for heating.
- Kids are well. Samuel did really well in his pre-lim exams.
- Our runaway goose named Christmas Dinner is still happily swimming around the harbour and getting fed by locals.
- I play badminton on Thursday nights on a pretty regular basis now.
- Debbie and I do Orcadian dancing on Tuesday nights and we almost always the youngest people there.