The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.



Anybody with me on this?

Last Sunday we attempted to discuss the Hellbound? video.

It seems to me a discussion needs a forum in which the participants are in agreement on basic foundational issues regarding the topic.  Otherwise it’s a futile exercise.  Unless one just enjoys hearing oneself talk.

It seems to me the topic of hell, let alone who goes there and why are parts of a greater whole.
That “whole” needs to be established and agreed upon before attempting to discuss the parts. 

Sharing opinions on a topic without an agreed upon context to me is frustrating. 

Several things were said Sunday past that from my perspective illustrate this:

- Zack spoke of other options concerning hell.   

Based on what?  To discuss those options we need to agree on context.

- Jesse “said” in so many words that he and I have shared a common experience in our faith journey and went on to point out questions that have arisen for him (and a friend he regards to be of a higher spiritual caliber) that make him question the “classic” doctrine of hell.  Here again context is an issue, I would need to probe into Jesse’s experience to determine if indeed we do share a common experience.  Only then after establishing that commonness could it be referenced so as to bring credibility to his questions. 

- Jacqui shared how interpretations of scripture different from mine informed her opinions.  That’s an admission of approaching the topic from perhaps contrary contexts. 

Nancy got the ball rolling when before anything else was said she made a point of “out of respect” so as not to offend, asking for my opinion first and foremost.  This was fine and I am not upset or troubled by it but it shows the low potential our gathering had for being anything more than gab fest.  In affect her question stated the obvious:  What Mary and I believe is incongruous with the majority and so as to keep from offending Scot and Mary lets find out where they stand on this specific topic so we know how to temper our own remarks.  Gee, thanks for looking out, but that type of environment is not conducive to “discussion”.  If real discussion is curtailed because of our presence are we justified in feeling as though we are a “wet blanket”?

In short substance and depth can only be plumbed from a position of shared or agreed upon context.  To attempt to delve into those things with out such agreement seems lame.

I think we had the (hell) cart way before the horse last Sunday.  Establishing a common context is HARD work.  Are we up for it?


- I see this coming week Jacqui is hosting a video “discussion”/ Communion.

Should we instead do some of the HARD work?  

2 weeks out Mary & I host the “discussion” of the Tim Keller book, “The Reason for God”.

    Do we want to discuss this book without a shared context?  By the way trying to cover this book in a onetime gathering is very optimistic.  There is a chapter focused on hell, perhaps we should limit our “discussion” to that alone.  If you need the book or that chapter let me know and we can try to figure out how to accommodate  you in that way.

love to all



Jacqui said...


Even though I unfortunately had to leave early, I'm sure you're not the only one who has been feeling things are less than resolved (if it's even possible to "resolve" an issue like the one tackled in the film).

That being said, I'm not sure it's any more possible, or maybe even necessary to come to a common ground on these issues. I think I understand where you're coming from here, and that as a group, our variances in belief probably extend way beyond this one issue. For me, the question of context i then "is that okay?"

For me, it's no problem. I don't expect that we all come to a common ground of understanding. I think that's pretty unlikely, given the nature of the group. In my experience there's a fair amount of variance among belief in churches, where the whole idea is that people of like beliefs come together. And this group was organized by a bunch of people who didn't feel like their beliefs honestly fit in any of those pre-established places. So I'm not surprised that we've got a wide range of perspectives on this one. In fact, it was my understanding that one of the hallmarks of this group is that it has never established a set common statement of belief or faith and has tried very intentionally at times not to do so.

But I also think for most of us these variances are part of a much larger system of belief. Not just thoughts on heaven and hell, so not only is a discussion on hashing those things out going to be hard work...it's going to take a long time. If ten of us with ten differing theologies sat down to try to hash things out, that's one hefty (and exhausting) conversation. So I'm not sure it's something we can set out to do as a topic. I think those things are the kinds of things that just get worked out and worked through by doing life as a community.

That being said, I do think we can be more intentional about how we communicate our assumptions and how we interact over our differences as things come up. And yes, that will be hard work.

Just throwing this out as a suggestion, but since this is likely a much more far reaching topic than heaven and hell, maybe we could start a new blog post with a few specific questions and allow for time for anyone to respond with their thoughts/beliefs/assumptions and begin the conversation that way. In that case, people have ample space and time to more fully explain their position than otherwise may happen in a discussion format. This doesn't have to be a cop out, of course, to avoid actually talking about it. Just a way to get the conversation started. Thoughts on that?

Jacqui said...

Also, I didn't want this to get lost in the lengthy post, but I'm going to respond to your questions about this weekend's gathering in a new post for the sake of clarity.

Zack Schroeder said...

Hey Scott and Jacqui thanks for posting about this issue. I agree it got a bit weird last Sunday. I don't want to just gab or complain and I don't want to be defensive or unable to hear other views.

For me personally I would like the cohort to be a place where everyone can share openly their thoughts, doubts, and beliefs, and not be judged. I do think it is appropriate to push back and challenge each other.

However I also don't think we can have a shared context. I don't want to agree with everyone. We can still discuss things without a shared context though. I still would like to hear how you came to your views on hell - the scriptures and personal experiences that lead you to that.

You asked me about what my views on hell were based on, and I tried to give you a bit of my context and background. I grew up with the traditional view and began to question it and it caused me to also question things like the authority of scripture. So if you are looking to start with the Bible and some shared agreement on Scriptural validity or authority then that won't be helpful necessarily.

Jesse said...

In regards to "context," I would say that the context has been and should continue to be "Community." This has been our strength and our focus as a group for several years. When Community is the context, the focus is on hearing each other's voices, asking questions openly and with respect for the other's experience, convictions and doubts. This is the foundational context for any conversation about any topic, or any engagement around a meal, Communion, or service activity. In Community we learn about each other, how our faith has changed and is changing right now. The purpose of meeting in Community is not to reach an agreed upon Truth, Doctrine or other "context," - because in reality, when that purpose is sought, Community breaks apart (i.e., American denominationalism). The purpose is to grow in our faith together, engage with one another, to be challenged by one another, and to try to live more like Jesus - together.

With that being said, Scot I so much appreciate your words, your presence, and your differing opinion on this issue and any number of issues. You frequently remind us that at the heart of Christianity is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, an encounter that changes your life. Your voice is one of many colorful voices in the cohort, now and over the years we have gathered together. In my opinion, hearing those different voices in the context of Community is not a futile exercise, but is the contemporary expression of the Emerging Church.

Eve said...

I agree that we need to have an agreed common ground. whether that is community or something more I think it needs to be discussed. The cohort has been around for quite a few years and it grows and changes. The discussion my not yield very many physical changes in the group or set up but will help make things clearer.
Lately I've heard some differing opinions on what the group is and what people want out of it. Which is good, we are all different individuals.

Yes, let's start the conversation via posts verses a meeting because usually we are missing someone on any given Sunday and this is a topic we need everyone a part of if they want to be. Are you guy ok with that?

PS; By no means is anyone in our group a wet blanket! We probably have a lot more similarities - and differences than we let on. The ideal for me for this group is that we would care enough about individuals to be honest about our thoughts and struggles, listen humbly and ask clarifying questions respectfully. I would also love that through these meetings I would feel closer to God whether it be that I am accepting a deeper Truth than before or because I'm wrestling with Him with something.

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