OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

The Problem with Programs (or Bigger is No Longer Better)

One of the great lies of modern society is “one size fits all.” With the disparity in people’s sizes increasing (read: many of us are getting bigger and bigger), “one size fits all” is becoming less and less true.

The same holds true for the church.

For years, in addition to buying the specious “bigger is better,” we have been addicted to a one-size-fits-all mentality in the church. It’s called “programs.” The problem is, people aren’t “one size fits all”… and that’s why programs are so awful. They assume just that.

A generous spirituality

Evangelical responses to the paradigm shift we are currently experiencing in the western world have focused for the most part on the deconstructionist tendencies of postmodernism. Led by philosophers such as Foucault and Derrida postmodern thinkers have challenged reigning paradigms for the past forty years, demonstrating the inconsistencies and difficulties in many of our most basic assumptions. In evangelical circles deconstruction also played it’s role: we ‘deconstructed church’ and ‘deconstructed faith.’ Critics have noted the negative or reactionary tone in the conversation, and this has caused no small amount of frustration: evangelical writers on the subject (many of whom seem to band together under the name Emergent) have articulated what is it they dislike about the old paradigms and why, but have struggled to articulate what they would like to replace it with.

Atonement discussion

Because the atonement thread was getting so overloaded, joeblow agreed to break the topic up into a number of sub-questions. He’s now done that (for which many thanks!), so let’s see if we can get some really useful discussion going around these themes. This is clearly a critical issue for the emerging church and could have serious implications for relations within the larger evangelical/post-evangelical community. The reaction in the UK to Steve Chalke’s book is indicative of that.

Incarnational Spirituality: Taking Downward Mobility Seriously

On 29 September, 2004, the British Labour Party received a jolt. Bono (Paul Hewson) of U2 fame called upon the party to credibly bear the “weight of expectation,” and do something historic with the Prime Minister’s Africa Commission.[1] He urged them to replace verbal wrangling with money, lots of money, in response to the 6,500 Africans who are dying every day of treatable and preventable diseases. He called it not a cause, but an emergency. It was unnerving because it challenged a spirituality that “makes a fool of our idea of justice, mocks our pieties, doubts our concern and questions our commitment.” It is not about charity, he said, but justice.

The Atonement

I propose that the Penal Substitution view of the atonement is nothing more than cosmic child abuse. Discuss.

To flesh it out, marginally, penal substitution can be summarised thus: God is wrathful with the sin of humanity. God needs to punish sin, but instead of punishing humanity, sends his Son to be punished in humanity’s place - hence, penal (i.e. Jesus paying the penalty) substitution (i.e. in our place). More succinctly, God wants to beat ‘the hell’ out of us, but instead beats ‘the hell’ out of his Son. Sounds like child abuse.

'A strange unmapped new land'

We agreed with Tom Wright at the end of the Future of the People of God conference, and have confirmed with him since, that we would initiate an online discussion around some of the ideas that he presented at the conference. We think these two paragraphs from the end of the first session (download) are an excellent place to start. In effect Tom makes a case here for an 'emerging theology' - though he doesn't use that phrase himself - that draws together three key themes: i) the interpretation of mission in terms of the new creation; ii) the link between historical Jesus scholarship and the mission of the church; and iii) the analogy between Jesus' mission to Israel and the church's mission to the world.

Upgrade in progress

I’m in the process of upgrading the site and you will find a few things that are not working properly or do not look right. Sorry about that. In the meantime, if you’ve got any good ideas for a new poll, let me know. I’ve got nothing up my sleeve at the moment.

less and less? more and more!

It’s not a ‘slam-dunk’ just yet, but research suggests that the rate of growth of global faith in Jesus Christ is growing about as fast as it’s ever done. Here are a few quotes from those who research these things.

The emerging church of England?

Deep in the collective psyche of the 'emerging church' is a desire for unity, not as an expression of doctrinal accord or structural integration, but centred around a renewed determination to be a creative, adventurous and authentic people of God in Christ. I have been thinking recently that the most powerful and prophetic form the pursuit of unity in this country might take would be the reunification of the numerous independent and non-conformist churches with the Church of England. I'm not sure I imagine this happening in real terms, but an informal, symbolic reconvergence of the different traditions as the church of England (without the capital C) may in fact prove more significant than the reality of it.

Wanted: Small Results

When my wife and I got married, we agreed that we had had enough of small, struggling, inner-city churches and moved off to Uptown Baptist, an incredibly diverse and diffuse place considerably further down the road of city mission. We were very happy there, but the Lord called us, kicking and screaming, to help start a plant in another neighborhood called Lakeview. Our experience of church transformed from being a home to a house construction site.

Syndicate content