Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Task Of The Community

"Good theology... is the disciplined and critical reflection of the community of faith upon the gospel entrusted to it. It is reflection carried out within the community of faith, from the standpoint afforded by faith, and for the sake of the community of faith. Christian theology, then, is a pursuit of the church. It is the attempt on the part of those who belong to the church of Christ to explore and to comprehend more fully the shape and structure of the truth which they are called upon to profess and to live out in all its varied aspects."

--Stanley Grenz, Renewing The Center, page 209

Regardless of what some may think, the Bible does not interpret itself, and the task of theology is not confined to those in the hallows of academia. The task of Christian theology remains the task of the community of faith, for the benefit of the community of faith. That task involves contextual interpretation, and subjective application, which is what makes the center of theology always shifting, and moving as the church of Jesus Christ grows, and adapts to it's current context.

Reclaiming theological construction as a key responsibility of the church takes us beyond fundamentalism and it's foundational constructs, and beyond the protestant liberalism of experience claiming the right to be the cornerstone of theology. Rather it acknowledges the shared religious experience of people of faith in Jesus Christ, and rests on the foundation of the faithful interpretation of Scripture by those in the community of faith.

Everyone that claims the name of Christ is a theologian, and as a result must practice their task in the context of their own community of faith.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The End Of Theology

"In this sense, then, the postmodern turn spells the end of theology. No longer can any one group, tradition, or sub-narrative claim without reservation and qualification that their particular doctrinal perspective determines the whole of evangelicalism. Rather, the ongoing evangelical theological task includes (among other things) a never-ending conversation about the meaning, in the contemporary context, of the symbols that as evangelicals they are committed to maintaining and that form the carriers of meaning for all."

Stanley Grenz, Renewing the Center, pg. 189.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I approach theology in a spirit of adventure, being always curious about what I may find. For me, theology is like a rich feast, with many dishes to enjoy and delicacies to taste. It is like a centuries-old conversation that I am privileged to take part in, a conversation replete with innumerable voices to listen to.

[I see myself] more like a pilgrim than a settler, I read the path of discovery and do my theology en route.

Being a theological pilgrim involves listening ever more carefully to what the Scriptures actually say and teach and making appropriate course corrections in response."

--Charles Pinnock

Monday, December 22, 2008

Church Advertising

I work in a church, and live near several "seeker sensitive churches". I am always amazed at how quickly staff members of churches rise up to criticize and tear down their fellow brothers and sisters. While I think most church marketing sucks, there are a few notable exceptions in my area. Churches that seem to be on the cutting edge of marketing, constantly working on new and creative ideas for their church series. I love driving by Flamingo Road Church simply so I can see their enormous billboard out front announcing the next series.

I think the impetus for most of our criticism comes not from some divine mandate that we constantly be on the lookout for those who are "compromising the message", but rather from our own jealousy. I don't really hear much criticism about churches of 20 in the area, but rather only about churches with large membership roles.

Ministry envy seems to be at an all time high, and it's continually frustrating to me to hear people tear down other pastors. My feeling is this: Before you criticize another pastor, or ministry, you should be required to first visit that church, and have lunch with that pastor. You should visit his home, meet his family, and church staff. Find out what they are all about. Walk a mile in their shoes. Only then will you be qualified to criticize, or judge their ministry. Throwing stones from a distance is far too easy.

There are many reasons why I think church marketing sucks, and I'll probably delve into that topic later... I'm continually frustrated that the church is not the hub of creative activity...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama and Warren

Barack Obama recently announced that Pastor Rick Warren from the Saddleback Church in California will give the invocation at his inauguration. This announcement has been met with much criticism from the left and right. I've heard Warren called a hate monger because of his views on homosexual marriage, and an inappropriate pick to give the invocation at one of the most historic moments in our history.

While I certainly don't agree with everything that Warren says or believes, I do agre with Obama on his statement that we need to have a variety of views present at the inauguration. He has defended his pick, saying that Warren represents views that differ from his own, but in those differences America's greatness is represented. We are a country of multiple belief strains, having Warren at his inauguration represents something that I love about Obama, his willingness to have a variety of views represented.

I'm hopeful that Obama will continue this practice throughout his presidency. I'm hopeful that he will lead from a centrist position in the White House. And I also think that many Christians could learn a thing or two from this encounter. Our differences, while they are important to us, are not what should divide us. Conversation amongst people of faith is a good thing. Not so that we may be swayed to another position, but rather so that we are able to hear the viewpoint of the other. So that we can understand the perspective of our brother next to us. And some times, it may be ok for us to be friends even if our belief systems don't match up like a connection on eharmony.