Transforming Theology: Emergence for Emergents, Part One

Phillip Clayton and I sat down on Friday night for a conversation about emergence science and emergent church.  Here’s part one of the video:
Thanks to videographer Ryan Parker.

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  • What are you drinking?

  • I was here! It was soooooo fun! And he’s drinking holy water. Duh! (JK)

  • Nathan

    Good convo 🙂 I miss being in class with Dr. Clayton. He really knew how to command a classroom without being a tyrant, but at the same time without letting things get weepy and asinine. I had him for Pneumatology–he’s an asset to CST fosho.
    By the way, my “beer goggles” say you are drinking a Sierra Nevada. Good choice. Since you are in California here, I’ll double down on that.

  • The only cool thing here is that your drinking a beer. How emergent of you.

  • Three minutes? Yeah right. ;-P

  • ben

    Really? Denying the bodily resurrection is “conservative?” I think you’re playing loose with some definitions, leaving them meaningless. I’d say, conservative = holding to those things which most Christians everywhere have always affirmed. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is clearly in this category (see: apostle’s creed, Didache, other NT writings, Augustine, medieval theologians, the Lutherans, Synod of Dort, Westminster Confession, Puritans, Jacobus Arminius, the Wesleys, the Masai creed, Vatican II… and… those dreaded Fundy’s of recent days – just to name a few.)
    I’d be interested to see how you’d speak of the resurrection.

  • Ted Seeber

    I think this site is slashdotted- can’t get the video to play.
    Having said that- I see the dreaded fundies as being JUST as liberal as the resurrection deniers- because they deny the universality of the Eucharist, and the need of liturgy to explain the Bible. Christ is about ONE holy, catholic, and apostolic church, not 30,000 of them. And certainly creating new churches just to be progressive.
    I think Martin Luther would have been extremely frightened, had he seen where Sola Scriptura would take Christianity.

  • Alan K

    You seem to want to contextualize the resurrection by your understanding of cosmology instead of letting the resurrection contextualize your understanding of cosmology. A non-physical resurrection plays well to the modern mind, and your description has been bantered around for a couple hundred years, but it fails to make any sense historically. For an exhaustive cataloging of what ancients believed happened after people died, and for what was the story the early church told and why, I recommend Tom Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”
    As to where did the body of Jesus go if he was resurrected, the church has always confessed, in line with Acts 1, that “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.” This may require you to consider what “heaven” may actually be. But heaven is not really where it’s at, because we continue to confess that “From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
    Regarding ourselves, we have always confessed “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come.” Therefore, non-bodily resurrection is at odds with what the church has claimed to believe from the very beginning.

  • David Elliott

    The comments to the video I find helpful and important. The conference, as I understand it, is trying to build a framework for the theological foundations of a renewed Christian life. Yet the presupposition seems to be the “fundamentals” which are encased in the creeds, doctrines and statements from the early 20th century are a “third rail”, not to be touched or even discussed. A very “flippant” dismissal of the academic scholarship of Borg and many, many of the best theologians seems inappropriate. I was trained before the latest evangelical age in the notions of Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Niebuhrs etc. They were tough going but seemed to be laying foundations. I just re-read “The courage to be” and was startled by the depth of insight in offering a “faithful” vision of Christianity for the current world. I find John Cobbs work with process theology very helpful as well and I look forward to Phillip Clayton’s fleshing out of emergence science and theology. My hope is that if you want to stick to the historical truth of the “fundamentals” of the Christian faith, then do so but try to re-articulate them in a way that captures their “beauty”, and significance so that we can all be purveyors of truly good news.

  • Sara

    Tony described the Christian “left” and “right” with an unrealistic reductionism. His postmodernity did not shine through here.

  • Brian, your comments will be missed. Except this kind of comment.
    I get paid exactly $5/day to blog for BNet. As much as I’d like to respond to many of your dozens of comments over the last couple months, I just don’t have the time. Posting once or twice a day is about all I can manage.
    Bye bye.

  • Jon

    I couldn’t agree more with these last five minutes. I graduated a few years back from a private Christian university in northern CA and am one of those students that you were talking about. We had a few chapel speakers that pushed the progressive boundaries like Shane Claiborne and Bart Campolo. In fact, Bart created such controversey with his message that two years after his talk students and professors were still talking about the “Barttroversy.” And your last statement and challenge to progressive theologians in right on the money. You say that there are so many young evangelicals that are right on the fence but need permission to think different, I and many, many of my friends are living proof of that. Many of my friends have left behind their Christian beliefs due to the fact that there was no permission and others are still very confused. And I’m not talkign about 3 or 4 people. I’m talking more about 20 or 30. I had to spend a lot of time searching books and the internet to find my permission and when I did it was life-changing and freeing. So, if you or anyone else takes that challenge up I will be the first to purchase your books and pass them on to friends. I’ve already done it quite a bit with the likes of McLaren and Rohr. Keep them coming.

  • Sara

    Tony –
    My husband (Brian) didn’t get paid to comment on your blog. He did it because he cares about the Church and the conversations that happen on blogs that he considers helpful in exploring theology and ministry. He is a busy guy, just like everyone else in ministry. He doesn’t make much money, just like everyone else in ministry. The key is to budget the time and money you do have in ways that you descern are most helpful/faithful. Obviously, you budget you time in money away from this blog. That is fine. That is what you have descerned is most helpful/faithful. But that is why Brian has budgeted his time away from your blog. Thanks for understanding.

  • Tony, here is a page which we’ve put together to summarize the Transforming Theology movement. Includes a short video clip as well.
    I knew nothing about this until just recently and have learned so much sitting down with Prof. Clayton and reading these threads. Prof. Clayton calls what we’re seeing with the shift in religious groups one of the social movements of our time. I agree!
    Nick Johnson
    Claremont Graduate University