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

Future of the People of God talks

The main talks given by Tom Wright at the Future of the People of God conference are now available for download. These are large mp3 files (around 8-9 MB each) and I don't know how well the server will cope with the strain. If you have trouble downloading them, try again later when everyone else is asleep. The interactive sessions and the workshops are not currently available.

We'll reinvent...

Lying in bed next to my partner on my holidays, I couldn’t help thinking about the mess of christ-following I find myself in. In reality, it’s no less tidy and there are no fewer people suffering accidentally in the circles I move in than when I was part of an institutional congregation of christians. The reality of it is that there are a million ways to talk about what’s going on, but the tested and reliable linguistic ruts of ‘seeking God’, ‘following Jesus’ and ‘being a people of God’ carry baggage that we wish to eliminate. The whole shebang rolls around like a new generation of an evolving creature and we attribute particular significance to some words and language and they’re somehow holy. I maintain that’s ‘cause someone’s said they are.

What (again) is emerging church?

The Future of the People of God conference was promoted as a conversation between Tom Wright and the ‘emerging church’. It was clear enough who Tom Wright was, with his silver episcopal cross swinging around his neck. But the identity of his interlocutor - this amorphous phenomenon which has been labelled ‘emerging church’ - was not so obvious, which made it, in some respects, a rather difficult and puzzling conversation.

Different people at the conference were clearly ‘emerging’ from different things, and something needs to be done to understand much better where we are coming from, how these journeys interrelate, and where they might be leading us. Whether or not we are entering a post-denominational world, the question of how we express unity in diversity is as pressing as it ever was. Emerging church ought to have the resources to address the challenge more effectively than the ‘modern’ church has done, but the need to secure our own position rather than serve others may yet defeat our best intentions.

All I want to do here is give an indication of the different captivities that we are emerging from and suggest that we should plan on spending a long time on the journey together and not worry too much yet about what the promised land might look like when we get there.

Can faith be based on a book?

I am not an intellectual nor an academic (in my experience they are often seperate states of being). I am not a philosopher or even a dedicated amateur student of theology. But, I do believe in God and have felt touched by Him/Her/It often in my life.

This has led to many quests for understanding and truth and I’ve danced around the fringes of Christianity like a nervous bee most of my life. I have also experimented elsewhere. This never ending search has led me to this site and I would like to thank all involved in putting it together.

Islam and Jewish Christianity

When Jesus Became God

BBC Radio 4 is currently broadcasting a four part series called In the Footsteps of Muhammed. The second episode about ‘Jerusalem’ considers, among other things, the intriguing theory that Islam in some way developed from the residue of Jewish Christianity in Arabia, describing it as ‘the breaking surface of Jewish Christianity but using the Arabic idiom’. There is no archaeological evidence that the descendants of the Jewish Christians who fled into the desert at the time of the Roman invasion of Judea survived down to the seventh century. But the theory, if it ever proved valid, would offer a way of linking the historical-theological narratives of Islam and Christianity that might prove of value in other areas of interfaith dialogue - more so than the traditional argument that Muhammed drew separately and arbitrarily on Judaism and Nestorian Christianity. Unfortunately, this part of the programme does not appear in the ‘working script’ that is also available.

Profoundly Disturbed on the Fourth of July (Redux): God, the Flag and the End of America

Author's note: This article was first published in the summer of 2003. Shortly thereafter, my church employer and I…uh…parted company. It was God's way of getting me off my rear and into the church plant that I am now leading, but at the time it was a little scary. To their credit, the church, in letting me go took good care of my family and did their best to put a positive spin on things (both of which I am very grateful for). But the bottom line is that in this era of charged political debate, the evangelical church in America seems to have come down on the side of those who say dissent is somehow unpatriotic and that to be a Good Christian also means being a Good American. I again offer this article in the hopes that those now planning a good ol' patriotic Fourth of July Service (on Sunday this year) will think twice… and perhaps instead of singing the Star Spangled Banner, will spend time praying for victims of war and terrorism alike, for our enemies and for peace in our world.

Is the emerging church the new Arianism?

When Jesus Became God

Justin Baeder recently put me on to Richard Rubenstein’s highly readable account of the Arian controversy — When Jesus Became God (1999). The focus of the book is on the historical narrative of the dispute. It does a wonderful job of showing how theological enquiry at the time was not an abstract but a thoroughly political and, more surprisingly, populist undertaking. The power of the state was a crucial factor at all points in the process, but public opinion and mob rule were equally important in determining the outcome of the controversy. The narrative approach also helps us to reconnect modern theological orthodoxy with the church as it emerged from the eschatological crisis of the first two centuries. The story of the transformation from ‘persecuted sect’ to ‘potential state church’ is fascinating and constitutes an appropriate extension of the retelling of the New Testament story that many are pursuing.

Islam and open source theology

Just as we seek to discover a new theology that brings togther God and the emerging culture would anyone be interested in re-interpreting Islam and the thoughts of “Mohammed” in the light of what the Spirit might have been saying to him and his culture. It seems to me that Louis Massignon and Bassetti- Sani attepted to do this but gained no momentum.
Ron George

Christianity + Renewal article about emerging church

There’s a good article about emerging church by Andy Peck in the April edition of Christianity + Renewal, a UK magazine that serves a mainstream evangelical-charismatic readership. Peck takes a balanced approach listing both a number of key insights of the emerging church critique and many of the concerns that more traditional evangelical and charismatic onlookers might want to raise. In his conclusions he highlights the failure of the church in the UK to reach ‘postmoderns’ and notes some indications that mainstream churches are beginning to respond constructively to the challenge. But he thinks the jury is still out on whether the emerging church movement has a future. What is currently lacking are ‘success stories’ big enough to persuade the sceptics that this is more than just the church ‘pandering to the spirit of the age’.

In memoriam

My father died last night, peacefully in his sleep following a stroke. God had allowed us to be with him as a family in the afternoon though he had been barely conscious of our presence. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, Dad.’ ‘OK.’

Death is a novelty to me. It is quite extraordinary to think that even that lingering residue of life he had when we last saw him has now gone. His death was not unexpected, and we were not close. The involuntary spasms of grief have passed, like the shocks of an earthquake in the night, and apart from a few minor after-tremors all is now quiet. But the memory of him hangs vividly in the air, and I can understand why people believe they can contact the spirits of the dead.

Syndicate content