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Posts from March 2011

Hanging with the barcode guy

Meet the barcode guy. We are spending a few days in Devonport, Auckland, with David and Margaret Allis. David is a house church guy and fundraising radical who has been following my blog for years so its great to finally meet up.

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Thanks Ellis family for your hospitatlity and giving space for our noisy family.

David is also a compulsive entrepreneur who is the MAN to talk to in NZ if you want a barcode for your product, even in UK. David started a small business selling barcodes to NZ businesses and now he sells them all over the world.

Unicycle_057 David is also the guy who supplies unicycles to one-wheeler fanastics all over NZ [and Parachute Festival] and  he is the inventor of the KiwiQuiz, the famous NZ edugame that took the country by storm, the Discover NZ game, Time Zone, AND the Brit Quiz game that is just hitting England pubs and households.

So being such a game fanatic, we play some games last night just to see how serious David was and YEP hes pretty competitive. COMPULSIVE more like it!

Tomorrow I am going up to Mangawhai to speak at the Baptist church there and David is coming with me.


Arrived in Auckland, New Zealand

Our final week in New Zealand before setting off for Australia (Sydney, Perth Adelaide) and then Hong Kong and Europe.

We arrived in Auckland last night and will be in the north this weekend - I am speaking at Mangawhai Baptist on Sunday. Then back to Auckland and fly to Sydney on April 2nd.

This is the first time for my kids to be in New Zealand, which is strange because they all have NZ passports but have never been. They love it!!!

Auckland is special for me because I was born here (Takapuna hospital) and lived in Northcote before moving to Orewa. Its a fantastic city that has plenty of history and lots of volcanos everwhere you look. I am sure my kids will like it.

End of the week and I didnt buy the book. YEAH!

The end of the week has come about and I have successfully resisted the urge to buy Rob Bell's Love Wins book. [!!!! hallelujah chorus !!!!!]

But I did follow the conversation and I was impressed that my son was talking theology today on his facebook page in relation to the Rob Bell controversy.

Wow - Martin Bashir seemed really harsh on Rob Bell in his MSNBC interview [partial transcript here] which I found painful to watch and have not yet shown my wife. As one twitterer suggested, Martin repeatedly insulted Rob and then asked him to confirm the insults - "Its true, isnt it?" 

I was wondering if it was because Bashir attends Redeemer Church in New York and was bringing in some attitude from Tim Keller's belief on hell, which is not uncontested in emerging church circles. But then after listening to Martin explain that interview to Paul Edwards, he appears to be actually very neutral and desires to be a journalist who brings out the truth rather than take sides in squabbles.

And he had a problem with Rob Bell apparently misquoting Martin Luther - fair enough.

Martin Bashir also mentioned that his daughter attends an emergent church in England called the Edge. Probably this one in Bristol, but there are now 3000 fresh expressions [as they call them in England) in the UK, according to Bishop Graham Cray, so there might be a number of them called The Edge. But as a parent with a child in another country, like Bashir, I can imagine a little anxiety in hoping that they will come under good spiritual teaching in the absence of a caring parent.

The panel at Southern Seminary happened [audio here] but it was quite congenial, not heated at all really. Actually it got terribly boring so I stopped listening. I dont think they got around to talking about the various nuances of the word "hell", as I had hoped but maybe another day? Sounds like Al Mohler is priming the pump for a book on the subject of universalism. Hopefully I will resist that one also.

Sometimes I wonder whether the Christian church in our western countries has become, quite regrettably, a book club.

Wife went to a movie tonight with a friend and kids went to a Christian youth group so, for the first time in a while, I have a quiet night.

Might watch an action movie and go to bed. Good night.

Hear me speak at Cornerstone Festival

I am really excited about speaking at Cornerstone Festival this year in Illinois, USA. I haven't been to Cornerstone since 1999. They asked me to give 3 seminars. I just sent them these details. Let me know if you will be there so we can meet each other and you can buy me a coffee d:-] and also if you can think of better titles and descriptions than these.

Cornerstone festival 2011


I Didn't Kill the Emerging Church!
One man's journey through thousands of emerging churches and millions of candles to see what remains after the most controversial church movement of the 21st century finally shaves off its gottee and gets a real job.
Description: This seminar will look at the rise of the emerging church and fresh expressions in North America and other countries over the past 20 years, the controversies, significant conferences, the maturing and transitioning into the mainstream, and its future as part of what God is doing today.

2 Bloggers in Pajamas and the Next Decade of Christian Blogging
Let's celebrate [and ridicule] the first ten years of Christian blogging and explore the next decade of streaming to the screen.
Description: We will look at milestones in the first decade of Christian blogging, what was achieved, how it changed the church, and which bloggers made a difference. We will also explore the future of life-streaming and blogging through social media, as well as online publishing to mobile devices.

3  Global Nomads and Couch Surfing Apostles.
Andrew Jones, serial nomad and existential migrant, will make sure you have everything you need in your backpack to save the world on a budget.

Description: A new generation of backpacking global nomads are beginning to change the world. We will look at existential migration as an alternative to short term mission and offer practical advice on how to survive, how to make an impact, and what needs to be in your backpack.

PLEASE let me know if you can come and hear me.

Philip Jenkins on Jesus wars, heresies and orthodoxy

I just finished Philip Jenkin's latest book called "Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years"

Jesus wars philip jenkins

Funny title. Good content. Not a riveting book but quite a relevant one to read this week, with all the controversies about what is orthodox and what is not. What Jenkins adds to the conversation is that the fate of "Christian orthodoxy" has been very fragile and fickle, the councils and creeds could have gone any which way, the fight over heresy had a much greater body count than present day twitter-spats over Rob Bell's book, we will always be fighting over how Jesus is both God and Man, and Turkey in the summer is far too sultry to enjoy a good theological conversation.

Best part was hearing about the Coptics and their theological journey, something that I think might pop up in the near future, especially in that part of the world.

Jenkins ends the book with this sentence . . .

"A religion that is not constantly spawning alternatives and heresies has ceased to think and has achieved only the peace of the grave."

Rob Bell and the new generation

Travis asked me about Rob Bell and the new generation of Christians yesterday, in the light of the present controversy regarding his Love Wins book release. My answer is a bit long for his blog comments so I will post it here.

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Travis, I think neither one will happen. Rob Bell will not become irrelevant simply because his book was a lemon and his theology found wanting. He is loved by many people and they will be committed to see him mature and move forward. Young people are a relational bunch: they stick to their friends and they believe people can change, especially when those people are open to conversation. They are NOT consumers who shop around for the most-correct theologian they can find in the yellow pages and then commmit to follow them and their groupies until someone points to a better show.

I think the critics of Rob Bell will suffer more than Rob Bell. Many were too quick to wash their hands of him and host inquisitions for his book. This week's Gloat-Fests of fundies high-fiving each other will give a sour taste that will linger far longer than Bell's accusations.

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In fact, I think the meanness extended to Rob Bell will cause many to see him as the victim of bullying and there will be a move to restore some dignity to him, as Eugene Peterson has done by offering some kind thoughts without fully agreeing with his theology. His message may not resonate with the new generation but his story probably will, and that is why it is possible that Rob Bell might, in the end, win!

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I want to add some more thoughts on the new generation's search for a better eschatology, as I understand it. Not so much on universalism, because I dont run into it very much, but on the search for a more biblically sustainable view on heaven and hell.

Continue reading "Rob Bell and the new generation" »

Japanese house churches and the earthquake

187270_100000722562901_3365031_n Its mind-boggling, this catastrophe in Japan. Massive earthquake, then powerful tsunami, then nuclear meltdowns, then volcanic activity . . . its like a Godzilla movie come to life! Its tragic beyond the scope of my imagnation because nothing on this scale has every happened in my life-time.

During my time in Japan some years ago, one of the things that struck me was how very similar to me where the Japanese. They were like me. I didnt feel like a foreigner in Japan. And I met people doing fresh expressions [we used to call it 'emerging church'] of church that were inspirational to us in other countries. In fact, a few days ago in Christchurch meeting, I told Christchurch house church leaders the story of what young Japanese were doing with their "house parties" and they were amazed. 

One of my Japanese friends is Mika who asked for prayer on this blog when the earthquake happened. I have an update from her.

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Hi, Andrew ...

Our friends from church (Luke Cummings, Joey Millard, Hiroyuki Kosaka) left for Sendai (Tohoku Area near earthquake center), yesterday with some goods,on a trolley, right after getting the permission from the local administration in Tohoku. (roads are closed, you need official permission papers to go through.) Luke's paretns are in Sendai, and found their parents safe.

There are [part of] an org called CRASH TOHOKU QUAKE RELIEF. Our church, Osaka house church and some other churches are getting involved. This organization started to send some teams for start up research, and [are] planning to send volunteers from next week. Dai Fukuda told me that you can read their meeting memo on facebook. (You remember Dai Fukuda, dont you?)
Dai told me that, Osaka house church network, invited Crash for workshop about a week before this earth quake, because they took the prophesy seriously, the prophesy that japan would be hit by a [h]uge earthquake.  So, this time, Osaka house church will be involved in this org.
As I heard from friends around, churches are trying to respond, rather individually, but I m not really sure how it will be from now. NGOs, NPOs, and many individuals are trying to do something, and I recieved lots of mails about those things. At the same time, there are [fake] fund-raising, spam mailing all around...
Well, then, as for your kind suggestion about which org or activity people can donate For now, I have no specific org or activities to suggest, just because there are so many, and at this stage of disaster,  it is not really clear which org will do what and where they do that. 
I will update, as stuation proceeds, and as I got more useful info. 
Tokyo area got influenced by this earthquake, rather in panic because of breakdown of infrastructure system, fear of next earthquake, tragedy in Tohoku. But we are trying to get economy/business runnning. (I m going back to work for now...)
Thanks for your prayers!!
Mika Goto
Thanks Mika, Crash is here on the web and they accepting donations for Japan. Blog readers, please let me know if you are supporting them.
Pray for Japan, and Mission Japan on Facebook

Who has the skinny on hell?

The release of Rob Bell's book Love Wins has become an event. Maybe even an Advent. The conversation has touched a nerve in USA and the twittersphere has been twitching with pithy tweets and retweets for over a week.

"Farewell Rob Bell" has probably become the most famous Christian tweet of all time, even though no one really knows what John Piper meant by it. T-shirts will be made. Bumper stickers. The Farewell Rob Bell Bible?

It reminds me of 2004, when it was Don Carson and Brian McLaren. Carson's tapes on the emerging church excited the blogosphere into a frenzy of activity. At the outbreak of that controversy, I found myself heavily involved in defending the emerging church and standing up to critics.

Who had the skinny BACK THEN????

During that time, I stumbled on a guy who I thought had something to say that would add clarity and balance to the kerfuffel. His name was Scot McKnight. And I was right . . . Scot had the skinny and his thoughts were crucial to understanding the argument and finding some sense in it.

Now its 2011. Rob Bell is in the hot seat and Al Mohler about to take the first shot. At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Al Mohler and his guests will host a panel discussion this week just to deal with the Love Wins book.

If I had to point to a single blogger who I think could add some clarity and understanding to this conversation on hell, who would it be?

Who has the skinny on this conversation NOW?

I dont think Al Mohler has the skinny. For all his talk on the doctrine of hell under attack by liberalism, universalism, wimpy catholicism, and seeker-sensitivism, there is very little appeal to the Scriptures themselves which is where this debate should be centered.

I am not convinced Rob Bell has the skinny. And if he has, he is not talking.

I don't think Al Mohler's panel-buddies have the skinny either.

Justin Taylor has leveraged the whole conversation with a single blog post, which is really impressive, but I feel his compulsion to label Rob Bell a universalist will prevent some good study of the Scriptures.

Russell Moore has treated the emerging church as more of a cultural taste ("black turtlenecks and gottees") and less of a rigorous resourcing of Scriptural and historical evidence. But he seems quite open to learn and he might turn out to have something to say. But not the skinny.

Denny Burk does not seem aware of the nuances of the hell conversation. In his imagined banter with Rob Bell, he does not differentiate between the terms "eternal life" and "heaven", just as he thoughtlessly blends "judgement" and "hell". If he did that with many emerging church leaders in the room, he would have a serious argument on his hands. And if he is anything like Kevin DeYoung, he probably treat all instances of hell in the New Testamant, including "Tartarus" "Hades" and "Gehenna", as pointing to a single spacial reality in which all unbelievers will be punished forever. I dont think he is very familiar with this conversation or he would not ignore the nuances so easily.

I can think of someone, but I need to say that although this blogger's view of hell, judgement, heaven, and the Kingdom of God is heavily influenced by NT Wright and the New Perspective, as well as years of participation in the emerging church circles, he will not represent everyone and possibly not even Rob Bell. But he carries the conversation in a way that resonates with a lot of us and I am hoping he will be taken seriously.

I think Andrew Perriman has the skinny and is the blogger to watch this week.

You might have read Andrew Perriman on why he thinks Tim Keller gets hell wrong but the post to read is Kevin DeYoung, Rob Bell, and the argument about hell  and even better, keep reading the comments where Peter Wilkinson adds some great push-back and good addtions to the thread.

When you are done, you will see his other recent posts on Justin Taylor, the emerging church and the new perspective, and theology in general. But start with the Kevin DeYoung post first, and expect some good thoughts during the week. And then . . . tell me if I was wrong about Andrew Perriman having the skinny.

Previously on TSK: Before you read Love Wins

Hanging with Kate in Christchurch

If you read Relevant Mag then you have probably read Kate Cremisino's creative writing and ideas. I remember reading her piece last year with hipster Brett McCraken called Relevant's Epic Summer Road Trip.

Anyway, we have been wonderfully hosted in Kate's earthquake-damaged house and our girls have really taken to her and, in fact, Elizabeth is tying a wrap on Kate's hair as I write this. Last night the house was full of people from Christchurch eating pizza and discussing how we are all trying to do church differently. Its been a good time and I hope to read more of her stuff in the future.

Oh yeah. Kate has a husband, Noah. Not sure what he does. . . heh heh.

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