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

History, today and tomorrow

What role should history play in the emergence of emergerising* churches? What role should history play in the development of open-source theology?

I would argue that it’s essential to make sure that the movement sidesteps the mistakes made in previous years and also so that if and when wheel-reinvention takes place, it may be appropriately labelled with its original discoverers.

New heaven and new earth

Assa and Andrew (see ‘My (tentative) beliefs’),

That’s the “statement” that I tuned into most as well, (or should I say took issue with) I’d ask the question, how many “New Heavens and Earths” are there going to be here? I agree, assa, that the apostles and the Christ all spoke of a new thing coming within the 1st century. Did it or did it not come?

My (tentative) beliefs

I know as ‘postmoderns’ we’re supposed to distrust creeds and statements of faith, but sometimes it becomes necessary to try to articulate, if only tentatively and imperfectly, what one believes – just in case anyone should ask. This is a personal statement of faith and is certainly not intended to represent the beliefs of the whole emerging church community. It is not exhaustive and will probably get revised from time to time.

(The image is William Blake’s ‘The Ancient of Days’.)

Obstacles to an effective emerging church?

I’ve just discovered your site through reading, by accident, about the author Brian McLaren from Cedar Creek CC and the Emergent movement in the US. I have been encouraged to read that there is an honest to God attempt to re-evaluate the current state of the church in the light of the post-modern world outside. Well done!

A Lutheran critique of open source theology

I emailed Charles St-Onge (pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Ridley Park, PA) originally because he has a link to Open Source Theology on his personal website with the tagline: ‘Desperate post-moderns trying to rediscover theology. Would be funny, if it weren’t sad.’ Since I have personally had very little interaction with mainstream opinion over the emerging or postmodern church agenda, I thought it might be interesting to hear why he considers it so misguided. He has made a number of thoughtful points in response i) to the general principle of an ‘open source theology’ and ii) to the first seven paragraphs in the suggested outline of an emerging theology. I have added my own response to his comments but I have a rather poor understanding of Lutheranism and others may want to contribute to the discussion.

The Passion of the Christ

The paragraph below is taken from an advance review of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ by Brian Godawa. You can find the whole review on the Chalcedon website.

We live in a world in the grip of postmodernism with its negation of reason, language, and discourse. People are bored with sermonizing and preachiness, especially in the arts. They just won’t listen to reason. They want to experience your metanarrative, not mentally process it with the questionable faculties of “logocentric” rationality. Make no mistake, this postmodern prejudice is imbalanced, fallacious, and spiritually destructive. But like Paul identifying to a certain extent with pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, so The Passion of the Christ meets the postmodern challenge with a legitimate experience of Christ (dramatic and emotional, though not irrational). The story is presented through strong images and minimal dialogue that will transcend culture and denomination alike. That’s the power of image. It may be the only movie about Jesus that most GenX or GenY postmodern young people will ever consider watching.

How will postmodern evangelicals read the bible?

Listen! A sower went out to sow...

The Weather Project

I went back to see Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project again today at Tate Modern and took a camera with me. This is really jonny baker territory but I couldn't resist posting a picture here. Besides, it seems to me that this sort of art is not without theological import.

Towards a theology of public presence

I want to suggest that at the heart of a renewed missional praxis there should be something like a theology (more precisely a missiology) of ‘public presence’. For me this line of thought has developed, over the last few months, less as a matter of abstract theological reflection than as a response to a practical necessity. We’ve been meeting each week in a local pub, and we’ve had to ask ourselves: What are we doing here? What’s the point of being here rather than somewhere else – somewhere less smoky, for example?

Getting the genie back in the bottle

I rather like this letter to The Times from the vice-president of the National Secular Society in the UK following recent debate about the continuing decline in anglican church attendance.

Sir, Your correspondents… seem to labour under the impression that, if they get the formula right, the outward surge of people from the churches will be somehow reversed. Many conservatives argue that these deserters would respond better if there were a stronger moral steer (or, more plainly, more authoritarianism) while liberals demand more inclusivity (that is, a rewriting of the Bible). Some think that it is because the services are dry and boring and could be made more interesting with various additions, while others assert that the theatricality of the traditional smells and bells approach is what the punters are really after.

None has considered the most likely explanation for their empty churches: that people don’t believe it any more. And no amount of tinkering round the edges is going to tempt them back. Once the genie of unbelief is out of the bottle, it won’t be forced in again.

He’s not entirely correct as is evident from the large number of people who are leaving churches but retaining a strong and developing faith. Emergent-UK had a very stimulating gathering today with Alan Jamieson, author of A Churchless Faith (see the review on this site). Alan’s work suggests not only that there may be a significant ‘submerged’ church that needs to be taken into consideration but also that networks of invisible believers may eventually provide the matrix for a renewal of corporate Christian life in post-Christian societies.

Nevertheless, I think the vice-president of the National Secular Society has a point: the church has a fundamental credibility problem and we have to face up to that fact. So what can we do to get the genie back in the bottle?

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