In the second chapter, the authors give a brief recap of how the Bible has been used and interpreted by Christians in the 20th century. There are several key points of useful information, as well as clear statements demonstrating how the authors think the Bible should be read and used by a faith community.
If every one reads or re-reads these two chapters (pgs. 43-80), I think we will have plenty to discuss and catch up for a discussion Sunday afternoon.
As always, anyone is welcome to join the discussion, whether you have read the book or not. Also, if it will be your first time joining, we are excited to meet you! If you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification.
It’s the very first verse of Scripture’s Second Testament. And it picks up — majestically, beautifully — right where the First Testament left off, providing the genealogy of “Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
The rest of Matthew’s gospel and the whole of the Second Testament rests on this opening line. A Messiah has arrived, and this Messiah is the Son of David and the Seed of Abraham. He is the new Solomon, a rightful King for a Kingdom that, as explained by the prophet Nathan, will have no end. Unlike Solomon before him, this new King will lead Israel forward in their true identity as God’s people — to spread God’s favor to the nations, extending their blessing and fulfilling their covenant relationship with God inaugurated in Abraham.
A blessing to the nations. A Kingdom that has no end. Such significance in that very first verse of Matthew’s gospel.
So what say you? I'm specifically asking about the take on "their true identity as God's people"...do you think the description of that identity given here is applicable to us/you?
I'm not sure how I feel...
Perhaps someone will say something that will help me gain clarity.
I hope you are all still "making merry":)
If you have a specific section of scripture you would like to read than you can post that too otherwise I was thinking we would re-read the Christmas story again or just starting a gospel to work through.
The other option would be to do another "intentional day/week of blogging" in hopes we could reconnect with some cohortians who have moved away or we haven't heard from in a while.
Or we could do both?
It's already a bit late in the week for planning sorry, but let me know.
UPDATE: Sunday Dec. 20th no cohort meeting
It's the holidays, and we could all use some extra time with our families! Our Next meeting is Jan 3rd at Global Gallery
From wondering how Mary must have felt as she was ridiculed and shamed to the emotions of Joseph, we discussed several different pieces of the story. Andrew even said that he would have loved to have been a shepherd that night.
As I sat there and listened, I realized this was one more story that I was no longer certain about. And I thought to myself... “What makes this story true instead of a myth?”
(To be honest, I will tell you I’m weary of asking the “Is this true?” question.)
Instead I want to ask:
“What am I doing to radically immerse myself in this story so that something extraordinary may come?”
In that long ago Christmas story, they were waiting for a real, live Messiah to come and literally rescue them from yet another oppressive rule—to save them from their circumstances. They wanted miracles and a happy ending.
And thinking about that, I realized how many times I too have waited to be rescued from my oppressive circumstances. I am happy ever after girl longing for fairy tale endings, wanting magic and miracles too.
I haven’t lost that happy ever after girl who believes in miracles. It’s just that I know the incredible value that comes from embracing heartaches and loss—it is the combination of all that shapes, defines and carves my character into who I am fully with God.
That same Breath of Heaven that Mary received long ago is the same Breath of Heaven conceived in my heart, my mind and my soul giving birth to pain, heartache, hope, desire for a better life, empathy and a reason to love deeply.
So what is the best part of the Christmas story for me?
All of it!
P.S. Regarding whether I think the story is true--if God can take a bee and a flower and add it up to a tomato, a virgin birth would have to be easy breezy for Him. :)
4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm
179 Bridgeport Way, Delaware, OH 43015
Queen Mary is on a roll...she's got the elves hopping!
The Miller's will be providing:
MEAT - including crab cakes, chicken wings and Stromboli.
BEVERAGES - including, beer, soft drinks, some sort of special holiday concoction.
WHAT YOU MIGHT BRING (or the Queen's suggestion):
SALADS: Potato, Macaroni, Green Leaf, Relish tray
SIDES: HOT Vegetable dish ( broccoli or green bean etc), chips & salsa, cheese
A beverage of your own liking (to share of course)
PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT YOU WILL BRING SO WE DON'T HAVE DOUBLES OR TRIPLES OF THINGS. THANKS!
WHAT WE WILL DO:
SHARE YULE-TIDE SPIRIT
* GIFT EXCHANGE to be of the white elephant variety. Feel free to define "white elephant" however you please, haha!
COME ONE COME ALL!!
"You have a story to tell. It’s probably a local story, the kind best told among friends over coffee on a winter day. Maybe it’s your community’s perspective, an unanticipated incandescence that brought your tribe some new Kingdom resolve. [Stories] can also be potentially profound to this, your family of friends and would-be-friends called Emergent Village. It’s no surprise that this village is also connected by—and centered around—the stories of the collective. What is surprising is how few stories filter up and lend their voices on the national and international scale. The Village is sustained by new stories, by new storytellers. Emergent|C hopes to bring your stories to the wider Village each month. Consider this your invitation to tell, retell, question, prod, report, critique, interpret or celebrate."
What is our unique story? It is worth asking, what is God doing amongst us? How are we transformed? How might our story help others in a unique way?
Could we discover our story together, and then tell it?
This week we are having a Celebration of the Faithful, scheduled at the Newby home. Adam and I have some ideas- mostly around the idea of advent and the season- however, if any of you have any ideas and would like to do the celebration, please let us know. Also, as a reminder, with the Celebration we will have a a potluck-style meal. I have no idea about "theme" but post/comment if you are planning on being there and if you are planning on bringing anything and we can just coordinate that way. We have not had a COF in a while, so I'm really looking forward to this time together.
The first simply states that we should not ignore house churches, because there are tens of thousands across Europe and Australia. In addition, somewhere between 6 and 12 million people in America attend house churches.
The second offers six different types of house churches, per Wolfgang Simpson.
A couple of quick thoughts: 1) It's cool to see that Xianity in the "West" isn't totally dying, but is just growing in uncharted and unusual ways. IMO, house churches are really interesting and exciting. 2) Now that we have a bit of track record (more than 2 years for the COEC now!!), would we consider ourselves a "house church"?? Would we be in the first category, that of an "off the grid," the "God-yes-church-no" crowd? Not that definitions really matter, but, you know - for the sake of conversation ;)
Info: Palace Theatre, 8pm. Tickets are about $25 after all charges and fees and are general admission, so purchase them on your own (but definitely purchase ahead of time is my advice).
I would recommend trying to get a rough head count for the even within the next week or so, each person purchase tickets individually, and then perhaps we can work out some carpooling or a meeting spot before the event, and then drinks and conversation afterward.
Perhaps a good event to invite some new and/or different folks for conversation as well??
It is astonishing that so many intelligent Christians seem to believe there is a deficit in emphasis on evangelism and scriptural literalism, and that, if the hatches are just battened down on a more solid “worldview,” evangelicalism can resume explaining the universe to new generations of believers. In this respect, evangelicalism’s true believers resemble the faction of the Republican Party that asserts with a straight face that returning to “core principles,” and not a radical restructuring of priorities, will bring waves of Americans back to the right wing.
But so many twenty-somethings are not calling themselves “post-evangelical” because they know too little theology or have put too small an effort into synthesizing it with reality. They have come from the most apologetics-obsessed generation of Christians in American history, and have realized that many of their prepared answers are for questions that no one is asking. Adrift in the cultural sea, many turned to traditions and theological systems of the past, only to find those similarly unequipped to address the questions of our time. The only choice has been to begin the messy and at times overwhelming process of drafting something new.
The growing collection of post-evangelicals is what the defensive, definitional evangelical fears the most, and could by itself explain the recent obsession with protecting the label. Surely many of the intelligent professors, students, writers and bloggers rushing to its defense have also felt the naggings of cognitive dissonance and the inkling that the world might make more sense if they abandoned some of their cultural presuppositions. But haggling over the details of theology provides a psuedo-intellectual haven from real-world questions, where evangelicals can exercise their minds without coming to any unsettling conclusions. And thus the cycle of definition and redefinition continues, providing endless diversion as it cuts deeper and deeper ruts into what was once known as the Christian dialogue.
Refusing to align squarely with evangelical shibboleths requires courage, but the sooner it happens on a larger scale the better. All signs point to a near future where religion will play an increasingly climactic role in global culture and politics. Men and women who, as Mark Noll puts it in the final pages of The Evangelical Scandal, “think like a Christian”—by which he means “take seriously the sovereignty of God over the world he created”—should be leading the way on the meta questions that are already besieging society. But as long as they are busy drafting manifestos in their barricaded salons, hubristic rationalism will continue charging unchecked into the 21st century.
In 2008, over 8 million shoe boxes were collected and were sent to over 115 countries around the world. This is really an incredible program, but it has to start with people who are willing to purchase the items and pack the shoe box. So, that's us!!
We will meet at 3pm at Adam and Kara's house (thanks for hosting!). First we will watch a short video about the program so that everyone has a good idea what we are participating in. Then we will drive to the store (probably Target) to purchase the items for the shoe boxes. We will return to the house to wrap, pack and prepare the boxes. Kellye and I will bring the necessary papers that are included in each box, and then we will take the finished shoe boxes to a drop off point in Grove City.
Some things you should try to bring to our OCC party:
- An empty shoe box to be packed and given away.
- Wrapping paper
- Any items you would like to include in your shoe box, such as individual size soap or shampoo; hard candy; new toys; school supplies; etc. See a list of suggested items here.
- Money - have your checkbook so you can include the $7 shipping donation. Also whatever money you plan to spend at the store.
- Snacks?? Not a necessity, but always welcome ;)
Despite (and maybe because of) the enormous challenge of this ancient story, I volunteered to lead this time. See you Sunday!
Should we try to pull personal meaning from the Bible or just try to only read it based on what it originally meant?
Is it possible to read some of the Bible as poetic non-literal literature while firmly believing other parts?
What sorts of biases do we bring when reading the scriptures of other faiths?
What is scripture's place in an emergent community?
We'll be discussing scripture at 3:00pm on Sunday Nov 1st at Global Gallery based loosely around the book Free for All by Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes. Please come out and share your thoughts on how you interact with scripture.
If you are unable to come feel free to start some discussion in the comments of this post.
We will have a sharing meal, prepared by one person (or couple) for that evening. This week, Kellye and I will be serving a chicken noodle casserole, salad, fresh bread, and an apple crisp for dessert. Please respond in the comments or through email to let us know you are coming so we can be sure to have enough.
We'll meet this Sunday evening (10/25), at 5:30 pm, at the Schroeder's house in Grove City. If you need more information or have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com
Also, if you really want to put your finger on the pulse of religion in America, make sure you read the comment section. My favorite is this: "why do you people who dont believe in anything even comment. i will tell you why, you are possessed by the demon, satan. he is the ultimate in deception and will make you think you know everything, then he will torture you when you die and laugh at you burning. deny god and see for yourself."
I have very confused feelings after reading the story and these comments...I think I need a drink.
A few things coming up, and some ideas I wanted to toss out there. "On Schedule" for this weekend is the "Walk Now for Autism" event - last year, Kara and I joined Noel and it was a great experience! It's a full day, but there are wonderful people there and it's a great cause for sure. I don't think we have anything formal planned as far as volunteering. I will be there with Step by Step Academy (my new job) but I'm not sure what I'll be doing. If you know you want to come and help out, contact either me or Noel.
Monday, Oct. 12th at 6:30pm is scheduled to be another planning meeting. In the past, this meeting has been REALLY helpful as it gives us an idea of what is coming up, a chance to put our heads together, and its an open time when everyone's ideas are welcome and included. So I'd like to encourage everyone who can possibly make it to come on Monday night, even if you have never come to a planning session before, or maybe not even a cohort meeting before. This is a great time to throw in your ideas and share, or get an idea of what is coming up in the next few months.
We will meet at the Newby's house. Anyone is welcome to bring light refreshments, like some apple cider or cookies.
I'd like to throw out two ideas to consider before the planning session, and then get feedback from everyone. The first is Tim Conder's book "Free for All" I haven't read it, but from what I understand, it is about getting away from a literal/fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture, and learning to let the Bible have a voice in your community. A recent Emergent Village email had an excerpt, which you can read here, and there was a podcast of Tim Conder speaking at a cohort meeting (you can find it on iTunes). Perhaps this book could be a resource for us in coming months? We could try to practice some of the ideas he suggests?
The second suggestion has to do with recent "changes" in Emergent Village. I have not really looked into these very much, but essentially the EV leadership has said they want more involvement and leadership from local cohorts. A recent post on the EV blog includes an invitation and talks about the future of EV. Does our cohort want to be more closely connected with EV? Do we want to join in the areas they are working in? Or do we enjoy being more independent? There are obviously pros/cons both ways.
These are just some of my thoughts! Hope to see you Monday night!
We miss you all!
Jesus Christ, his only son, gave his life for you. Just like his life was taken, blessed, broken and given on behalf of your sin, your life is taken, blessed, broken and given to the glory of God the Father.
You are chosen.
Receive the blessing of the Father.
Rejoice in sharing in the sufferings of the Son.
And be free to give your life in service to others.
Over the weekend, I realized how deeply I miss feeling like I know what I’m doing with God; I miss having beliefs that I feel strongly about; and I miss having a story that I know how it ends.
Let me tell you that when I naively decided that I wanted more of God, I did not know how hard this would be. I didn’t know that wanting more of God would cause me to question so many of my beliefs and that I would essentially end up kind of like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz—a little lost, afraid and wanting to go back home.
There are so many critics of the Emergent Movement. Right now I can't really blame them—even I think this journey seems pretty irresponsible and too dangerous. What if I never find my way back? What if I never end up on solid ground again with real beliefs? What if I never have a way to live my life again that makes sense in the context of faith and the Kingdom of God and loving Jesus?
But Dorothy meets guides along the way, right? The personifications of wisdom, courage and heart. And after her ordeal of facing her worst fears, she does get back home. It is the same home, but better because she has changed. She is home and it is exactly where she wants to be.
Is that what I hope for--that I can somehow get back home? To be honest, because of this journey, nothing will ever be the same again.
And yet as I end this post, I realize I am exactly where I want to be.
Viola has a very specific, NT idea of church (of ekklesia, the greek word for "church") in mind when he writes these articles. His ideal concept of church is an "organic" church. He writes, "By "organic church," I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the "experience" of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it's the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings."
In my opinion, the COEC is a very "organic" group of people, and we experience God in a variety of ways and settings. However, I would not say we are a church either. Are we "postchurch?" I'm not sure (mainly because I don't accept Viola's definitions as comprehensive).
Frank has also posted on his blog that "Some of the comments on the blog confirm my instincts to write this article, as a great deal of confusion abounds among those who have left institutional Christianity and have opted for “the convenient substitute” rather than the organic expression of the body of Christ." I think it would be interesting to get feedback from our cohort.
Are we "postchurch" or "organic"? Are these the same? Are there areas that Viola is missing?
Other thoughts? Post here, or on the Out of Ur blog.
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a scholar and a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He was a prolific writer and is best know for his work on the need for silence, solitude, and spiritual contemplation. Eventually, his work in these areas led him to interfaith discussions with Eastern religions.
- Merton writes about contemplation: "Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source."
- Another quote on contemplation: "Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy. And yet in a certain sense, we must truly begin to hear God when we have ceased to listen. What is the explanation of this paradox? Perhaps only that there is a higher kind of listening...a general emptiness that waits to realize the fullness of the message of God within its own apparent void. In other words, the true contemplative is not the one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect or anticipate the word that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation...He waits on the Word of God in silence, and when he is 'answered' it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a great word of power, full of the voice of God."
- In the monastic tradition, the purpose of Christian life is very different from that of the evangelical. Rather than a call to "do" something for God - whether it be evangelism, social justice, worship or preaching - the monk believes that the most important thing a person can do is simply experience God's presence and love him deeply. This love for God, evidenced in regular prayer and the community within the abbey, is a witness to the rest of the world of how life could be lived. Also, the prayers of the monks are a powerful spiritual force in the secular world, although they are unseen.
- What is your immediate reaction to the ideas of silence, solitude and contemplation?
- What are your thoughts about the monastic tradition? Where do you see monasticism in postmodern life?
- Merton (and all mystical/contemplatives) spend much time discussing the experience of God's presence and what it means to love God sincerely and deeply in human life. How do you experience God? How do you express love for God? Do you think contemplation could be another path for this?
- Meditation/contemplation is not unique to Christianity. Where else have you experienced/practiced this mystical activity? What do you think about Merton's interfaith dialogs based upon mystical experiences of God?
- What might evangelicals and American Christians in general learn from the monastic tradition?
For some additional reading, you can see some of the blog posts I have written on contemplation here.
This week we are having a Celebration of the Faithful at Adam and Kara's house. We will meet at 5, then have the meal after the Celebration. The theme for the food this week is...local...which we will define as Ohio. (It can be hard to make a full dish locally, so try to make at least part of it that way, if not all.) We might be taking a walk, so wear your walking shoes...not your high heels :). See you at 5 on Sunday. If possible let us know what you are bringing, so we don't end up with plate upon plate of Ohio Sweet corn...though that might not be so bad.
You can see a few more pictures from the event on our facebook page here:
We will focus on “Existentialism is a Humanism,” an essay Sartre wrote in 1946 that outlines the basics of his philosophical position (at least in the 1940s) with a broad audience in mind. The text can be found at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm. Before reading it, I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article on existentialism. You can also read a scholarly overview of the subject that I have posted on our YahooGroups page. If you aren’t a member of the group, you’ll need to sign up to get to the files (see the button on the right panel of the blog). Once you’re into our page, click on “files,” to the left. The latter overview is on the one hand a more difficult read, but on the other hand treats the subject in a broader way that might better stimulate thought. I’m planning on putting Sartre’s essay front-and-center, so if you don’t have time to read much, please focus on his essay. Something that I like about Sartre is that he was suspicious of lofty philosophical exercise, so that even his non-fiction works are surprisingly easy to approach without a background in the material. Read the essay with an open mind that allows Sartre’s ideas to spark your own ideas, and a critical mind that causes you to test his ideas against what you believe about the nature of human experience.
If you would like a more guided reading, you might keep these questions in mind:
1) Does anything Sartre says bring Biblical passages into your mind?
2) How does Sartre’s philosophy accord with your own spiritual beliefs?
3) What does Sartre say that really bothers you? Why?
4) What do you think of Sartre’s critiques of Christianity?
5) Do you believe that humans are ultimately responsible for every choice?
6) Do you find existentialism to be a positive or negative way to approach life?
7) Does existence precede essence?
8) Why did Sartre choose atheism?
9) Does the decision process Sartre advocates resemble how you make decisions?
May you remain in the depths of existentialist anguish until Sunday!
"The New American Spirituality
"We are witnessing the birth of a wisdom tradition that is uniquely American. Within traditional organized religions, as well as in the hybrid creations of our times, the stamp of American thinking is plain. We see the American spirit in the proliferation of nonaffiliated Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Islamic churches, and also in the profound changes within sanctioned denominations. This spirit values independence from religious hierarchy. It crosses religious and social boundaries, telling the tale of a diverse people, gathered in close proximity, and absorbing each other's ways of worshiping, ritualization and mythologizing the great mysteries of life. In contains the nature-centered traditions of the original peoples of the Americas. It is part science, which has underscored, for the most of the twentieth century, our unspoken collective philosophy. It respects both a mistrust of heavy-handed authority and the willing surrender to a greater power. It draws from the religious teachings of the past: from the biblical traditions; from the spiritual roots of Africa; from the meditative schools of Asia; and from other diverse mythic and religious worldviews. and it draws from our own times, from the wisdom of psychology, democracy and feminism.
1. Who Has Authority: The hierarchy has the authority. Church authorities tell you how to worship in church and how to behave outside church.
2. What Is Spirituality? God, and the path to worship Him, have already been defined. all you need to do is follow the directions.
3. What Is the Path to God? There is only one path. It is the right way and all other ways are wrong.
4. What is Sacred? Parts of yourself--like the body or ego or emotions are evil. Deny or transcend or sublimate them or they will lead you astray.
5. What Is the Truth? The truth is like a rock. Your understanding of it should never waiver. Therefore ask the same questions and receive the same answers at all stages of life.
1. Who Has Authority: You are your own best authority. As you work to know and love yourself, you discover how to live a spiritual life.
2. What Is Spirituality? You listen within for your own definition of spirituality. Your deeper longings are your compass on the search.
3. What Is the Path to God? Many paths lead to spiritual freedom and peace. You have a rich array of gems from which to draw illumination: the world's religious traditions; mythology; philosophy; psychology; healing methods; scientific wisdom; your own experience.
4. What is Sacred? Everything is sacred--your body, mind, psyche, heart and soul. The world is sacred, too, with all of its light and darkness. Bring the exiled and unloved parts of yourself back into the fold.
5. What Is the Truth? The truth is like the horizon--forever ahead of you, forever changing its shape and color. Let your spiritual path change and diverge as you journey toward it. The truth accommodates your growth.”
Does it all need to change?
I think it already has.
But perhaps I can allow the truths from my past, those truths I still hold so dear, to continue to shape and define me as I head toward a horizon 'forever changing its shape and color.'
A Hellenistic Faith?
The following is an excerpt taken from chapter 5 in which Doug uses the story of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 to show that in the 1st century, the new faith of following Jesus Christ was meant for different people of different backgrounds, races and lifestyles. He proceeds in the chapter to discuss how Christianity became more "set in stone" along with the development of Greek and Roman culture.
"So the Jewish believers were asking the Gentile believers to do whatever they could to make it possible for the two groups to meet together. The first few centuries of the Christian faith were all about this balance between diversity and unity.
But then something changed...Christianity started moving from a faith committed to multicultural unity to one requiring monocultural uniformity. In other words, Christianity began settling into one particular culture and worldview, and all adherents had to convert to that worldview if they wanted to follow Jesus. Strangely, that mandatory worldview was not the Hebrew worldview of the Jewish people. It was the Greek worldview of the Gentiles. ...
... By the time Christianity became the official Roman religion under Constantine, it was so deeply a Greek expresion that not only had the Jewish heritage faded, but many Christians were fearful of the Jews, and deep conflict between Jews and Christians was common. This marked quite a change. The influence of telling a dynamic Jewish story in and through multiple cutlures was replaced with a Greek monocultural expression of Christianity. It is from within this fully Greek worldview that much of our 'official' modern Christianity arose. ...
... Augustine and many who followed him needed to create complex theologies to smooth out the questions raised by all of these competing worldviews. Their theological explanations are brilliant for their situation, but they are just that - situational explanations. They are not in and of themselves the story of God. This is why it's important for us to recognize the cultural encoding that takes place every time a theology is created. every theology is grounded in a culture and set of culturally based assumptions and concerns. To hold to these theologies in the fifth century was to be faithful, for they were created as explanations for the understanding of the world at that time. But to hold to those same conclusions today, when the worldview that demanded them has expired, is simply foolish."
In my opinion, one of the most common mistakes religious people make is that they experience God in a meaningful and real way, and then they aim to replicate that experience with everyone else they know, regardless of any differences in background, personality or experiences. It seems almost contradictory to have a "flexible" or "changing" religion, because inherent in the concept of religion is a set of beliefs and systems that are unchanging, permanent, absolute.
But as we all know, the world - and the people and the ideas in the world - are all changing, and very rapidly. The faith of the 21st century, in many respects, is not the same faith as the 20th century, and certainly not the same faith of the 5th century when Augustine wrote.
But on the other hand, we have the creeds, we have the Scriptures, and we have the traditions of the Church. Does it all need to change? Herein lies the difficult interpretative task: Which beliefs are culturally bound and necessitate revision? And which are more permanent, more foundational and should not be changed at all?
Possible questions to discuss:
- In what ways do you see the ancient influences in the Christian faith?
- What parts of your current Christian experience do you feel are more being held over from cultural experiences of the past, and aren't really central to the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus?
- How do we determine what parts of our faith are cultural and what parts are permanent? Can we make such a division?
It should be a fun time. Feel free to bring friends and loved ones.
I recorded the discussion and have uploaded it. You can access the mp3 here. If anyone would like to post other reflections or links here, feel free.
I'd like to focus on religious violence especially, and violence within the christian context in general. Two specific questions:
1) Do the religions naturally lead to violence, and if so, in what ways?
2) Can Christianity offer healing for that violence and offer a different perspective?
It seems these were already much discussed, but particularly in regard to the first question, I'd like to see our discussion range out of the realm of Christian theology and into the area of other religions as well.
Also, these comments from the previous blog posts stuck out to me:
"Is not the central focus of the Gospels the crucifixion of Christ by God? Which could be used as just another example of a violent God killing His own son?" - Zack
"But we still know there is God's righteous judgment, which is always good and right...I don't know why God judges when he does or how he does, but I do have to believe it is always good." - Nick
"As Brueggemann points out, there seem to have been times in the OT when an Israelite reached out in an effort to stop God's violent hand...Brueggemann wants us to consider that Abraham, the creation, truly affected the mind of the creator." -Jane
I think these three issues: soteriology, judgment and dissension are critical to this conversation and we likely will look to them in the context of the questions numbered above.
I wanted to take just a quick minute to introduce myself and let you know to look out for a couple postings in the next day.
My name is Brandon Sipes and I'll be facilitating/leading the discussion this Sunday afternoon on God and Violence. You've already had some quite good discussion and I'm excited to engage this group with further thoughts. I'll be posting some new and old questions, as well as some links or documents that might be helpful to our conversation.
I would prefer to take the time for introductions when we are together, so I will leave it at my name and that it will be good to see you all. I am curious how many might come, so I wonder if you might be able to RSVP in the comments. that would be helpful for any planning I have.
Introduction: "I want to believe differently."
The following is an excerpt from chapter 1, taken from here. You can also listen to a reading of the chapter or download a .pdf of the whole chapter here.
I especially appreciate Doug's honesty here, right at the beginning of the book, clearing confessing his faith, but admitting to his unbelief in the prevailing systems of Christianity and struggle to believe differently.
I am a Christian — a theologically trained, church-planting, evangelizing, Jesus-loving Christian. I trust in resurrection, and I seek to join with God in the world. But I have problem, an internal conflict that has only gotten worse in my twenty years of following this faith. It’s the kind of problem I tell others about with great caution and no small amount of anxiety.
I am a Christian, but I don’t believe in Christianity.
At least I don’t believe in the versions of Christianity that have prevailed for the last fifteen hundred years, the ones that were perfectly suitable in their time and place but have little connection with this time and place. The ones that answer questions we no longer ask and fail to consider questions we can no longer ignore. The ones that don’t mesh with what we know about God and the world and our place in it. I want to be very clear: I am not conflicted because I struggle to believe. I am conflicted because I want to believe differently.
Have you felt this tension before, between loving Jesus, but not loving Christianity? Where has it led you? What particular parts of the "versions of Christianity" do you struggle with, disagree with, or give you problems? Is it possible to be a Christian but not believe in Christianity? How will that affect your involvement in church and with other Christians?
Perhaps the most important questions are, if you have felt this tension, how have you successfully resolved it or found answers? Where do you find hope, even within Christianity? Obviously in the book Doug goes on to offer, as the subtitle states, "a hope-filled, open-armed, alive and well faith for the left-out, left-behind and let-down." But it may be important first to recognize that there are many who love Jesus, but are feeling beat down and disappointed with the versions of Christianity that are commonly offered.
Each post will be titled "XWB Discussion Post #**" These posts will not correspond with any particular cohort discussion session, but rather will be held solely online so hopefully for people can interact and get excited about Doug's visit. Please feel free post comments, ask questions, and engage in the online discussion.
For now, check out Andrew Jones' review of the book here, and peruse Doug Pagitt's own blog that offers links to free chapters online as well as audio recordings of him reading various chapters. If you'd like to pick up your own copy of the book, I got a paperback version from B&N (in town, Lennox) for $14.99, and the Columbus Public Library owns several copies as well.
However, I also thought that some of the words written this week might express the thoughts of members of our own cohort. Our cohort has grown, shrunk, gained and lost members, worked through changes and phases, and is something different today that perhaps we had envisioned months, or maybe even years ago.
So take a look at a few of the posts listed below, and perhaps comment about what resonated with you personally.
Tony Jones posts a "round up"
Response on EV.com from Jonathan Brink
The post by Nick Fiedler that got it started (discussing disappointments with Emergent)
A long (and brutally honest and informative) response from Tony Jones
Another good response from Makeesha Fisher
The event will be from 3-5pm and will be hosted by Jacob's Porch, located at 45 E. 13th Ave. There is limited parking behind the building, free meter parking on 13th Ave, and inexpensive parking at the nearby Gateway Parking garage.
I have read several of Doug's books, and they are available from the Cols. library and at local book stores (I would highly recommend both "A Christianity Worth Believing" and "Church Re-imagined"). I'll be putting up some posts soon on the COEC blog with selections for reading and discussion.
I'm confident this will be another great author/speaker event for Columbus!!
Please comment what food you plan on bringing as I would like to treat our guests well.
I took the initiative to give a presentation on the subject of socialism
particularly in its relationship to Christianity for the meeting of May
17. I would like to share some articles written both by myself and others
which can give to members some basic insights on both the diversity of
socialist ideas and history.
What I want primarily to do at the presentation is to lead a discussion
regarding the relationship of Socialism and Christianity. As part of
that discussion I am prepared to discuss aspects of the history and
ideas of socialism as needed. However I think that if persons do decide
to read these articles they will find them of interest and hopefully will
understand much better my own views on socialism. Feel free to respond
to these articles prior to the meeting. What I hope to do is to put
socialism on the map as at least a concept to be considered by Columbus
members of the emerging church movement. I hope the meeting on May 17 can
be the opening of a dialogue and not just the beginning and the end of
Article #1: What Socialism is Not
Article #2: An Alternative Socialism
Article #3: Themes of Freedom, Power & Community
Article #4: Capitalism, Cooperativism, and Values
Article #5: Thoughts on the Kingdom of God
We'll try to have bags, and you'll probably want gloves. See you Sunday. Comment below if you have questions.
So - where do you get your news?
We'll eat dinner first, relax and hang out, and then build a fire and have our time of community worship, prayer, spiritual engagement and communion around the fire pit. We will plan to end around 8:30pm.
As always, everyone is welcome, even if this would be your first time visiting the group - looking forward to seeing everyone Sunday evening!!
I am currently reading a book by James Hollis called “What Matters Most.” In one of the chapters he discusses the fact that we die many small deaths to become larger. I agree with this idea.
I allow God to bring about certain deaths:
The death of my pride, the death of my judgments, the death of my fears.
But what about the death of those things that I cling to?
My need to feel safe, my need to be loved, my need to feel secure about my future.
And do I have trust like Abraham? I raise the knife. Will God ask me to plunge it into the very promise I believe He gave me or will God stay my hand?
I allow the death of everything I have, everything that I am. When Jesus said, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me, the answer was the cross.
Is violence ever a good thing? What have I to gain?
The Kingdom of God.
I'm hosting another installment of Faith, Film, and Philosophy on Saturday April 25 at 7pm. Andrew is leading the discussion this time. Here is his description of what will take place:
Join us to watch Slumdog Millionaire followed by reactions and discussion. The movie itself contains a lot of interesting ideas about the narrative structures of our lives, the unknown events that become meaningful in time etc., but we will also consider the movie as a 'cultural phenomenon' that has received Hollywood's highest honor. Is the depiction of slum life exploitative, a kind of seemingly distant, but ultimately damaging, form of scintillating poverty pornography? How can we think of poverty as people of faith whose tradition calls us to love others as ourselves? Globalization. .. Flattening Worlds... The rise of sprawling urban slums... The utopian failures of low-income housing solutions... The looming population booms... It's all there. Perfect for Faith, Film, and Philosophy night.
My address is 1212 Summit Street and I live on the corner of Fifth Ave and Summit. Parking is available on the street but if you have any trouble there is some room behind my duplex as well. My number is (937) 572-2751. Please let me know if you're coming so I can get enough chairs!
Bring your thoughts, questions, and your best Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Trivia.
Hope to see you there!
Is there something we could contribute to this? A collaborative effort? Favorite blogposts? Essays (Nancy's incredible work comes to my mind immediately....) Reflections on our past year and a half together?
You can post your question in the comments section of this blogpost, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll post information regarding the discussion session later.
The food theme for this Sunday is fish (be it shrimp or fish sticks or tuna!)
I encourage you to bring a story or testimony to share--it can be a story that has brought you closer to knowing and loving Jesus. But it doesn't have to be serious. Feel free to tell a 'big fish' story as well.
Thank you in advance for allowing me to lead this time. I have really had fun planning and preparing it.
See you all Sunday.
- Fewer discussion sessions, perhaps only one a month.
- Having an assigned "coordinator" for each month, or perhaps a few months at a time. This person would simply be in charge of making sure the blog info was updated and something was generally "planned" for the week and info was getting out to everyone.
- Having a "planning" meeting that would take place once every three months or so. This meeting would be an informal and open time to discuss and suggest new ideas for the upcoming months. New ideas for different activities/meetings could be any of the following:
- Visiting a church together on a Sunday, and then sharing lunch afterward to discuss/process the experience (this is something we did together a few times in the past, but is hard to do if a discussion session is planned at 3pm)
- Doing joint service projects together. These could be random, or connected to programs people are already involved in (for example, picking up trash in Weinland park area, serving a meal at Bellows Ave. church, or something totally new).
- Increased inter-faith dialog, which would involved inviting people of other faiths, other groups from Columbus to be a part of our discussion. For example, inviting a Buddhist to explain and teach meditation practices.
- Inviting other "emergent" speakers to share with our cohort (similar to the Rollins event).
- Encouraging new people to ask questions or suggest topics that could then be discussed. This would not be "leading" a discussion session, but would give them the opportunity to suggest a topic/author/book/idea, etc.
As always, the cohort is in the process of becoming and it is a joint experience. We are so thankful to everyone who has been a part of the cohort in the past, and we welcome everyone's continued involvement and input, especially to those new voices who have just entered the conversation in the past months. More than anything, we desire for everyone to feel accepted and welcome, and to grow in the way that they most need to, whatever that might be.
I did record the discussion for those who couldnt' make it but wanted to be there. If you want an .mp3 file, just email me at email@example.com
I suggested to Adam that the group could meet at my home in German Village on Sunday for lunch around noon. In light of the recent blog, we could discuss ideas and suggestions and thoughts about the future of the Central Ohio Emergent Cohort and how to go forward.
How about if everyone packs a lunch and I'll provide some drinks. If it's a nice day, we could walk down to Schiller as well.
I live at 750 South Lazelle Street. Directions: As you are traveling on Third Street toward Schiller Park, turn left on Frankfort and then right on Lazelle. (Two cars can fit in our driveway if the first car pulls up as much as possible.)
Please feel free to make other meeting suggestions if the idea and time do not seem like a good fit for Sunday. Additionally, if you would like to skip the meeting this Sunday since some are going up to Canton on Monday, that's fine too.
- TIME names "The New Calvinism" as #3 of the top ten ideas that are changing the world right now. The article quotes Al Mohler as saying about young people, "They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God...The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." (See also this post by Mark Driscoll himself that includes 4 reasons why neo-Calvinism is so attractive) Interestingly enough, the article begins by offering the Calvinist slant of popular Christian music as evidence for the shift; a statement akin to one Tickle made at the conference in Cincinnati a few weeks ago.
- The prediction that Evangelicalism is coming to an end. First a series of posts found here, then picked up by several other blogsites. One of the most notable statements is that, "This collapse, will...herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian west and will change the way tens of millions of people see the entire realm of religion. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become particularly hostile towards evangelical Christianity, increasingly seeing it as the opponent of the good of individuals and society." While this is simply an opinion piece, the statement that "HALF of evangelicals [will] be something else within 2-3 generations/10-20 years" is similar to Tickle's statement that in the coming years, 50% of Christianity will operate within what she calls "The Emerging Center" or "The New Rose." (She also claims that "experts" agree).
- A bit of a heated blog-a-logue regarding the nature of "virtual community," primarily started by Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels. See an interview here between Shane and Rob Bell, a longer one here with Zach Lind (from JEW!), and finally, the one that started it all (watch this one if none of the others). Essentially, Shane claims that true community must have the following: 1) A kind of shared history: This helps establish a sense of identity & belonging; 2)Permanence: This is how you get the shared history; 3) Proximity: You have to BE with each other to create meaningful connection; 4) A shared imagination of the future: This is especially important within Christian community. More interesting than Shane's claims were the responses by different bloggers, most notably AWC here, and Scot McKnight here and here, with a final response from Shane.
In short, what will Christianity look like in 5, 10, 20 years? What does that mean about how we should be living and believing now? Where are the changes taking place, and where will the "new" Christianity be, and what might it look like?
We are planning to meet 3:00-5:00 at the Global Gallery as Adam and Jesse present Part II of the discussion about Phyllis Tickle's book, "The Great Emergence." I reiterate what Nick posted recently, “this book has been highly touted by other Emergent Village writers, and is seen as a synopsis of Emergence, not just in religion, but across all society.”
Perhaps near the end of the discussion we could consider sharing what initially brought each of us to the Emergent Cohort and how the Emergent Movement and the Cohort have affected and moved us forward in our spiritual lives so far.