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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Scot McKnight

How Deconstruction Saved My Faith 2

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I was reading an interview with Brian McLaren on his book Everything Must Change from The Other Journal, and I read something in his narrative from the early 90's that is very similar to what I was going through during 1990-1999.  Here is what he says:

[Lost people's] questions re-opened for me something I had encountered a long time ago in graduate school, and that's postmodern philosophy, and this cultural shift from modern to a postmodern culture.  So in the early nineties I started grappling with that shift, and it was really tough... If you want to use a term that comes out of that postmodern world, the word would be deconstruction.  I was undergoing a deconstruction.  Not a deconstruction of my faith as a personal trust in God, but of my theological categories and of my theological methodology.  So that's not an easy thing to go through, but once you do a lot of deconstruction, then you have to start reconstructing or else you end up with nothing but a bunch of fragments.

The difference here for me from McLaren is that I actually discovered a more personal trust in God after the deconstruction of my theological categories and cultural history.  In about 1993, I began the reconstruction even as I continued the process of theological, cultural, and denominational deconstruction.  In fact, I think today I still go through a continual process of deconstructing.  I would prefer to call it reformata et semper reformanda - reformed and always reforming.  And here is the key to so many things right now for me (and for people like Roger Olson, John Franke, Stanley Grenz before he passed, Kevin VanHoozer, Nancey Murphey, LeRon Shults, John Stackhouse Jr., NT Wright, Rob Bell, Scot McKnight and many many more people).  I could probably write a book right now about how so many people in the evangelical world are misunderstanding some new theological and practical movements in the emerging church as heretical, when what these people are honestly trying to do is reform the church according to the Scriptures.  In fact, they're trying to re-read the Scriptures in a way that takes seriously the impact of cultural and theological history upon our reading in good ways and bad.  More on this in a couple follow-up posts to come.


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The Future of Evangelicalism 10

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Recently I've been reading a fabulous book by Tom Sine called "The New Conspirators."  Tom wrote the books Mustard Seed Conspiracy and Mustard Seed vs. McWorld, both of which have been very influential in my own life and thinking along the way.  Tom is from a much different generation than I am, but I love how he resonates along with people like Scot McKnight and Robert Webber with the so-called "Younger Evangelicals" (Webber's term).  Thinking about what McKnight in the last post I put up, listen to Tom Sine in his new book and notice the similarities:

...my passion is for discovering what God is doing in these turbulent times, and how I can be much more a part of it. [p. 18]

...much of the focus, language, and programs of traditional institutional churches no longer connect with post-denominational, post-Christendom, post-Christian and postmodern culture. [p. 19]

Though God works in all generations, as my wife Christine and I wander the world, we see the Spirit of God working largely through the vision, creativity, and initiative of a new generation - through emerging, mission, multicultural and monastic streams - as well as in traditional churches that are hungry for a more authentic, vital, mission-centered faith.  This book is written to invite you not only to support what God is doing through these renewing streams but also to join this conspiracy of compassion... Those involved in these streams almost always tend to be more outwardly focused, seeking to engage urgent needs in their communities and the larger world. [p. 20]

Sine mentions people I've also learned a great deal from like Alan Roxburgh, Alan Hirsch, Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Scot McKnight, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger, John Stackhouse, Leslie Newbigin, Steve Taylor, Walter Brueggeman, NT Wright, Marislov Volf, and many many more.  He speaks about issues of consumerism, kingdom, environmental stewardship, war & peace, and visions of a new reality.  (an whoa... one of the best biblical descriptions of heaven I've read that drew me to tears while sitting in a coffee shop when I read it... cf. pp. 104-108)

I also love the 4 emerging trends he mentions:  emerging church, missional movement, new monasticism and hip-hop.  I loved this because 3 of the 4 have resonated deeply with me (I've just had little exposure and connection to the hip hop church culture, but I bet I'd love it, too).  Anyway, his book is worth reading and discussing and it's great to have a guy with his breadth giving some credence to this new generation of thinkers envisioning a new reality in our new emerging culture that is both consistent with and yet somewhat different than the previous incarnation of church in an earlier historical culture.


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The Future of Evangelicalism 9

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In terms of my last post, I'm not the only one who is excited.  Ok, this post is old, but Scot McKnight's post "Emergent Voices," March 2, 2006 says some similar things in his own McKnightish way:

Emerging theological voices are running with some of the fast horses in theology and it is lots of fun to watch and listen. Keep your eyes open because shifts are occurring and in ten years theology won’t be what it is today — and it’s a good thing.

Many of the leaders and thinkers of the emerging movement were nurtured theologically on books like those of Donald Bloesch, Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, or even older lights like Berkhof. Emerging leaders know this stuff — and often have moved beyond it or have rejected it...

...Take, for instance, LeRon Shults. An emerging thinker, a young theologian, and one who has drunk deeply from seminal thinkers. What I find central to the major discussions of theology in the emerging movement is its turn to seminal thinkers and broad, sweeping trends. Shults deals in his book, Reforming Theolgocial Anthropology, with the turn to relationality and sketches the discussion through Aristotle, Kant, Hegel and Levinas. We have Barth and Pannenberg, and we have Leontius of Byzantium. And we have the impact of this turn toward a relational understanding on how we understand human nature, how we understand sin, and how we understand the imago Dei.

Others could be mentioned — John Franke, Stanley Grenz, Miroslav Volf, Kevin Vanhoozer...

...The major impact, as I’m seeing it, will be that bigger questions will be asked, newer approaches will be seen, and over time some dog-eared discussions will find their appropriate corner with questions no longer asked. Theology has always been the attempt to bring biblical theology into a new day, and that is exactly what we find in (to use Westerns) in Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Edwards, Barth, and the like. To stick to the categories and discussions of the 16th Century may be a learning experience, but theology always asks for new expressions in new times. I find the theology of the emerging movement trying to do just that.

McKnight lists a lot of the people that I've been reading over the last 8-10 years, people like Grenz, Franke, Volf, Van Hoozer, Shults, and Pannenberg not to mention the many other unmentioned ones - some theologians and some more practitioners too many to name. 


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"Lining Up" at Westminster

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I've been writing a bit lately about the issues of "who's in" and "who's out" and drawing firm boundary lines within evangelicalism. There are some these days who are tightening up the theological borders, while others are in favor of open borders and new cultural expressons of our faith so long as we maintain our core identity (see posts on The Future of Evangelicalism). In the midst of this has come the controversy surrounding Westminster Theological Seminary and Peter Enn's. Apparently, Enn's published a book (which I have not read) called Inspiration and Incarnation, using an incarnational analogy to describe inspiration and Scripture. He was recently suspended by the board from his position for this book because it apparently went against the Westminster Confession of Faith.  What I'm gathering Enns means by incarnational analogy (again, without having read the book), is that there is a co-mingling (as in Jesus' incarnation... the human and the divine) of humanity and divinity in the project and development of the Scriptures. My hunch is that the rub here is around inerrancy and defining what "God-breathed" means. If there is too much "humanity" and culture in the Scriptures, then that might soften our understanding of it's authority, it's special nature, and inevitably create a slippery slope away from inerrancy. Again... I haven't read it, but if that's what it's about, I can see the issues here. The interesting thing to me just on first blush is that even though Jesus was human, even though Jesus was "enculturated" as a Jewish man in first century Palestine, born into the home of a carpenter - we don't tend to worry that Jesus is somehow tainted or less than perfect, or diminished in his God-hood. So, why would we worry about an incarnational theology of inspiration? Maybe there's a lot more too it.

In any case, what bothered me were a couple of things (you can find this info at Christianity Today in an article entitled "Westminster Theological Suspension." There's also a good deal of discussion on Scot McKnight's blog). 

First, it was interesting how split both the faculty (12 for 8 against) and the board (9 for 18 against) were on their decisions to support Enns or not.  Clearly, this is not a cut and dried issue, and one that took 2 years to get through.  Apparently there were not "personal" issues involved.  I guess this was theological.  And yet it came down to such a split vote in both places within Westminster?  Just ask yourself this question... "What does this tell us about the state of evangelicalism?"  I won't answer that for you.

Second, even though this was supposedly a theological issue, CT said this, "...the board failed to give Enns an opportunity to be heard" and that that boards staement said, "while theological ocncerns were mentioned, there was little board discussion of theological specifics."  Hmmm.   That's a head scratcher.

Well, obviously I don't know enough about the story, but it's disturbing none-the-less.


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