The annoying tendency of some to know what God is doing

When I was teaching at TEDS one of my students showed up to class late, and then proceeded to tell me her “story”: she knew God wanted her to come to class on time, she knew Satan was against her getting to class, and some demons had gotten into her tank and sucked out all the gas. When I suggested that maybe filling up the tank earlier would have helped, she looked at me like I had denied God’s ability… Read more

Weekend in Oregon

Kris and I are off to Salem OR this weekend to speak to the good people at Trinity Covenant Church, pastored by Chris Haydon.I’ll try to get a blog or two in if we find access to the internet. Read more

Via negativa and Emergent rhetoric

Theologians at least since Luther, who was developing the rhetoric of Nicolas of Cusa, have often used what is called the via negativa. In essence, the via negativa is to describe something (say the Emergent movement) by saying what is not (say, not traditional Evangelicalism). Luther is known for his rhetoric about the theology of glory and the theology of the cross.First, this sort of rhetorical strategy typifies those who are forming their own boundary lines so that their own… Read more

Emergent Reaction

I have been asked maybe fifty times in the last month this question: “What is driving the Emergent movement?” “Who am I,” I come back at ’em, “to answer that question?” But then like a truck in wet sand, I can’t avoid sinking into an answer. Here’s what I say, or something like it. And I’d like feedback so I can answer this question better.First, Emergent is a reaction to what the Church has to offer and what the Church… Read more

Meet Pastor John Ames

I suggested yesterday that Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead expresses deep themes that find expression also among the Emergent folk, and I’d like to record here one of those comments. It comes near the end of the book, when Pastor John Ames is about to sign off (which he never does, which too is a bit postmodern). He ruminates on human nature in the following words.There are two occasions when the sacred beauty of Creation becomes dazzlingly apparent,and they occur together. One… Read more

The Emergent Novel

No, I’m not talking about A New Kind of Christian or The Story We Find Ourselves In or The Last Word and After That. Instead, I’m talking about Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and the theology of Pastor John Ames.Of course, it is foolish to debate what is the Emergent novel, but I am willing to make this claim: there is no novel out there so personal in its articulation of theology, so local in its embodiment, or more concerned with the… Read more

Never Alone

This essay was previously blogged under “What to read” but I have now, at the helm of Bob Robinson, posted it as a link and a pdf file.Never Alone“…the truth that reading and its necessary twin, writing,constitute not merely an ability but a power.”— Jacques Barzun“Every old man complains,” so said Samuel Johnson, “of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation.” Old Professors of small liberal arts colleges moan, like veteran Argive… Read more

Wrestling with Jacobs: An Essayist to Know

Essayists are humans who stick their nose out and sometimes their neck and, if truth be told about some of them, the entire body. Regardless, each sticks out her or his mind and scratches down some thoughts on paper.And, when you read them, you begin a wrestling match because instead of leading you along a logical argument they lead you to their study or their back porch for a conversation and often you disagree. This way you get to hear… Read more

Emergence: How so Ecumenical?

If we define “ecumenical” in the classical sense, that is, as the attempt by a variety of major church denominations to become “one” in theology and, by that theological unity, to move steps closer toward structural unity with a goal of making the Church entirely one, we are prepared also to claim that the Emergent movement is not ecumenical in that sense. We are then prepared to say that the ecumenical nature of the Emergent movement is not ecclesiastical. Ecclesiastical… Read more

Emergence and the Sacraments

I have no wish here to describe or evaluate what various Emergence churches are saying and doing and thinking about when it comes to the Sacraments, which for most Protestants has always been limited to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper — and not always called sacraments. Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism differ both on number and theology of what sacraments mean and do. It is well known that many are dabbling with other sacraments, and exploring (this is why Emergence… Read more

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