Recently I flew down to Cincinnati to Cincinnati Biblical Seminary to participate in the annual Stone-Campbell lectures. Must say this again: I contend that the Restoration Movement, or the Stone-Campbell movement, made up of the Christian Church and the Churches of Christ, is American evangelicalism’s best-kept secret and, sadly, the most overlooked resource of thinking and praxis. These are Bible people; these are pious people; and there are lots and lots of them; and they are doing excellent work in Bible and theology and church ministry. And neglecting this movement has weakened the robustness of the evangelical voice in the USA. Now back to the lectures.
First, I want to thank Bill Baker, professor at CBS and a tireless worker for the Stone Campbell Journal, for the invitation and for wonderful hospitality, not the least of which was at the president’s home (on campus). Both Ron Heine and I were privileged to stay there, and I enjoyed hearing Ron’s paper on Origen’s spirituality and our chats together. I’m looking forward to his life and theology of Origen coming out this Fall from Oxford. It was great to see so many people — too many to name, but specially for me to see my seminary friend, Bill Custer, and chat with Jana Riess. I spent some time with Chris Keith, an excellent young NT scholar (at Lincoln Christian Seminary), and enjoyed hearing so many good papers — including listening to David Fleer preach.
I gave two lectures: one on Spirituality and Postmodernity and one on Spiritual Disciplines Today. In brief, my contentions were that postmodernity spirituality emerges out of a soteriological incoherence (with traditional soteriology) and flows into a bricolage spirituality. This paper will be published next year in the Stone Campbell Journal. The second lecture argued for more focus on “direction” instead of “indirection” in our spiritual disciplines. By these terms I mean less focus on doing disciplines in order to grow in our relation to God or in our spirituality (indirection) and more on communicating directly with God (direction). If we directly connect to God, we will grow because divine fire transforms.