Friday, March 28, 2008

Being President

"Being President is easy, you just point the army and shoot."
--Homer Simpson

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Christians

Straight from the horses mouth...

I'm not sure when horses began giving the most accurate information on any given subject, but if I were to describe The New Christians by Tony Jones in a single expression I would respond with my quip about the integrity of information that can be gleaned from speaking with horses...

This book represents the most lucid explanation of the Emergent phenomenon to date. Tony is especially qualified to speak to the evolution of the movement, from it's embryonic stages in the late 1990's to the growing and expanding movement that seems to be in the teenage stage today [that stage where you're going through transformation in every part of your being, and most people don't really like you because your moody, but it's not really your fault, because your just learning how to exist in this new strange world].

Tony is neither objective or neutral in his characterization of Emergent [as some have claimed to be], nor would the reader want him to be. He gives an inside, first hand look at the genesis of what has become a major conversation in American Christianity. Tony has been "on the ground" throughout the history of the Emerging church, [and Emergent Village the internet home for all conversations emergent]. As acting coordinator of Emergent Tony is in conversation with churches on both sides of the movement, and has given a clear readable picture of what Emerging churches look like.

This book acts as an oasis in the desert of American Evangelicalism for those of us who are longing for a more meaningful faith that moves beyond the flattened out left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal debate. It provides the impetus for stretching out to a third way of Christianity, one that is true to the historic orthodox faith, and one that has not been abducted by either side of the political and religious landscape.

This book is both theological sturdy, and readable at the same time. Centered around twenty "dispatches, Tony aptly describes the core of the Emerging Church movement. In this book, Tony Jones has taken complex ideas, and translated them into the language of the common man. This book will be a great help for those wanting to understand Emergent, both adherents and critics can glean helpful and accurate information.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in this movement. It has strengthened my faith, and given me hope for the future of Christianity.

Monday, March 24, 2008


This is why I'm voting Obama 08!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


As of right now, there are about 90 minutes left of Easter Sunday, and I am very tired.

Every year it seems to be the same. Easter afternoon is about spending time with family, eating a bit too much, and then crashing on the couch from exhaustion. Our church had 9 services today between three locations. For me personally sometimes Easter becomes less about remembering the hope and significance of the resurrection, and more about the marathon church services that I will be involved in.

So before I lay my head on the pillow tonight, I'll reflect on what N.T. Wright said about Easter:

"Easter is about real life, not escapist fantasy. Easter is about God’s judgment, calling the world to account and setting up his new, glorious creation of freedom and peace, and summoning all people everywhere to live in this new world. Easter is about God’s rich welcome to all humankind."

So Easter is about more than 9,345 services... It's about new life, new hope, God coming to make his dwelling with man.

Sometimes in the midst of my business I forget to reflect on that...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The New Christians

Tony Jones has written a brilliant summary of the Emergent Church in his new book "The New Christians".

For anyone wanting to learn more about the emergent movement, this is a starting point.

In chapter 1 Tony addresses the bipolar character of contemporary American politics. The left vs. right controversies of the past several years have left me longing for a third way in politics [voting Nader doesn't do it for me].

I'm a registered Republican, but I'm anti-war, pro-poor, pro-environment, etc. I'm some sort of undiscovered hybrid living in a remote area of the jungle of American politics. Tony speaks into that frustration with hope, there are more of my species out there, those who have grown tired of the back and forth liberal vs. conservative fighting with no appreciable results.

Chapter one of The New Christians speaks to that frustration in a lucid and hopeful way. Emergent's look forward to a new reality, a more complex world that moves beyond the simplicity of right vs. left.

So, now who to vote for....

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Community Called Atonement

Scot McKnight is slowly finding his way to the top of reading lists for many interested in theology, and rightly so [he is quickly gaining ground on my reading list]. "A Community Called Atonement" is both a sweeping overview of the divergent theories of atonement, and a proposal for bringing the divergent views of atonement under a single umbrella of Christ's redeeming work in the world to restore cracked Eikons.

The atonement has too often been squeezed into a one size, one theory fits all box. Often times that box is determined by our denominational influence. McKnight points out that many atonement theories are seriously deficient because they lack any consideration or interaction with Christ's teaching of the Kingdom of God.

"Atonement theories have been shaped by the history of atonement theories, and that history has been dominated by Paul's letter to the Romans so one-sidedly that opening the door to the kingdom upsets the entire conversation." [Page 9]

McKight purports that atonement can only be understood when it is seen through the lens of the work of God to restore cracked Eikons in all interpersonal relations. Atonement must be broadened out from an individual, sin remission only view, to a view that encompasses the work of the entire ecclesiastical community of believers.

Many of our atonement theories capitulate to the very thing that McKnight argues against. We view our problem in the world simply as individual sin. The remedy to this problem is simply an atonement theory that will cover our moral indiscretions, and restore our standing as right moral individuals. Sin however for McKnight goes beyond poor moral decisions. Sin is the "hyperrelational distortion and corruption of hte Eikon's relationship with God and therefore with self, with others, and with the world." [McKnight page 23]

A broad view of the affects of sin will help to broaden out our view of the atonement. If we can move beyond our reformation influenced view of personal sin, we will be able to begin to put our arms around the breadth of the atonement.

McKight offers a view that gathers divergent views of the atonement seeing them as vital parts of the whole. He uses the image of a golf outing. A golfer may have a favorite club, but cannot hope to play a full round of golf with only that club. The same can be said about our views of the atonement. We may have a preferred theory, but our theories in and of themselves cannot fully comprehend the broad scope of the atonement. It takes all the theories together to fully describe the work of Christ on the cross.

McKnight closes his book with an important consideration of the affect of atonement on our praxis as the people of God. Atonement is not simply something that was accomplished 2,000 years ago on the cross, but rather is something that is working its way out through the called out ones. Believers work out the atonement through acts of fellowship, justice, community and prayer. The atonement is not simply an archaic or dusty old theology to be debated and dissected by theologians, but is rather a vibrant and active event that is occurring around us every day.

In short, this book is a brilliant consideration of divergent theories of the atonement, and a great read for both the novice, and advanced student of theology. McKnight has written a classic book on the theory of the atonement.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


In the last post I briefly reviewed Surprised by Hope. I found Wright's section on salvation to be particularly enticing and revealing. A few choice quotes...

“As long as we see salvation in terms of going to heaven when we die, the main work of the church is bound to be seen in terms of saving souls for that future. But when we see salvation, as the New Testament sees it, in terms of God’s promised new heavens and new earth and of our promised resurrection to share in that new and gloriously embodied reality — what I have called life after life after death — then the main work of the church here and now demands to be rethought in consequence.” [Wright, 197.]

“Salvation, then, is not going to heaven but being raised to life in God’s new heaven and new earth. But as soon as we put it like this we realize that the New Testament is full of hints, indications, and downright assertions that this salvation isn’t just something we have to wait for in the long-distance future. We can enjoy it here and now (always partially, of course, since we all still have to die), genuinely anticipating int eh present what is to come in the future.” [Wright page 198.]

“All sorts of things follow from this. We might notice, for instance, that theories of atonement, of the meaning of the cross, are not simply a set of alternative answers to the same question. They give the answers they give because of the question they ask. If the question is, How can I get to heaven despite the sin because of which I deserve to be punished? The answer may well be, because Jesus has been punished in your place. But if the question is, how can God’s plan to rescue and renew the world go ahead despite the corruption and decay that have come about because of human rebellion? The answer may well be because on the cross Jesus defeated the powers of evil, which have enslaved rebel humans and so ensured continuing corruption. Please not, these and other possible questions and answers are not mutually exclusive. My point is that reframing the question will mean rethinking the various answers we might give and the relationship between them.” [Wright, 199.]


Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I'm Back!

After a long hiatus from blogging, I have decided to bless the internet with more of my musings...

Don't know how long this one will last, or how consistent I will be, but here is another attempt at regular writing.

I thought I would start out with a book review [I'm setting a new goal of reviewing every book I read]

N.T. Wright has written another brilliant work echoing he previously published masterpiece on the resurrection. Wright's expounds on a Christian hope firmly rooted in the Biblical narrative that longs for new creation.

In a world where the radio orthodoxy of Christianity espouses a gospel of fire insurance, Wright correctly and articulates a gospel and hope for so much more than disembodied bliss. "God's Kingdom in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God's sovereign rule coming on earth as it is in heaven".

Our hope according to Wright is not "going to heaven when you die" but rather in life after life after death. We hope not for an escape from this earth, but to the glorious day when God will make all things new.

Readers of this book may find the lack of eschatological certainty within the book frustrating. In a Christian sub-culture where end-times charts and elaborate explanations of the book of Revelation are the norm, Wright is careful to show that Christian eschatology is not about a certitude of specific events yet to come, but rather a hope for a renewed earth. Eschatology must be viewed as sign posts guiding our way through a fog rather than a detailed map.

Wright's comments in chapter 12 on the meaning of salvation are worth the price of the book, and his restatement of the doctrine of hell in chapter 11 is worth twice the price of the book. How we view the gospel, and the death and resurrection of Jesus greatly determines how our definition and the outworking of salvation.

In short, this is N.T. Wright at his best. A foremost expert on the resurrection of Jesus and the implications of Christ's defeat of death on eschatology and future hope, Wright has given us a clear, readable, and deeply Biblical picture of Christian hope.