No One’s Heard of Paul Ricoeur

Paul Ricoeur

Paul Ricoeur

I’ve spent the last week at academic conferences on religion (honestly, the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society is only vaguely academic — it is primarily fideistic, it seems). To wander around among 10,000 theologians, biblical scholars, and professors of religion at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion is a great way to nerd out with your geek out. That is, if you’re into theology and religion.

But most people aren’t.

At AAR you can hear presentations with titles like,

  • “The Path has a Mind of its Own”: Eco-Agri-Pilgrimage to the Corn Maze Performance — an Exercise of Cross-Species Sociality
  • Seeing the Things You Cannot See: (Dis)-solving the Sublime in Interreligious Aesthetics through the Paintings of Hiroshi Senju

  • Yoga Body, Yoga Pants: The Feminization, Sexualization, and Pornification of Yoga

One of my commitments this week has been to make a short speech at the Society for Beer Lovers and Assorted Academic Research, a couple hundred young scholars who bring killer microbrews from all over the world to share at AAR. It was a pretty awesome night, with high octane brews being poured in a hot and humid church basement.

Here’s what I told them: [Read more...]

Is the Emerging Church Relevant? [Liveblog]

This week I’m at AAR/SBL, and I’m liveblogging some of the sessions I’m attending. Emergent Art Car This session is sponsored by the Critical Research in Religion group, and it’s called, “Is the Emerging/-ent Church Relevant?”

Xochitl Alvizo of Boston University gave the first presentation, Is the Emerging Church Important from a Feminist Practical Theological Perspective? Her thesis is that the few hipster white men who make up the popular perception of the Emerging Church Movement [ECM] are effectively erasing the truth, that the ECM is a large group of diverse people who are questioning church practice and theology. To imagine the ECM as a deconstruction of conventional church means to move beyond the high profile names and to, in the words of John Caputo, “Make the impossible happen.” This is exactly what feminist theologians have been doing since Mary Daly in the 1960s. The ECM can be measured in its success by this same metric as feminist theology. Alvizo studied 12 congregations to see if they are what they say they are: relational, organic, and inclusive. She looked for the congregations’ ability to question their own embedded patriarchal habits. Her findings are not yet complete, and she is analyzing her results. But two of the most pressing questions so far are, 1) the structure of the ordained clergy. Traditionally, the ordained clergy have a monopoly of the teaching and the power, disempowering the laity and keeping the liturgy from being the work of the people. Alvizo has found that ECM clergy are renegotiating these roles and attempting to subvert the traditional clergy roles. [Read more...]

The Big Announcement

HBC

Last night was pretty epic, at least by AAR/SBL standards. We had a standing-room-only crowd for the live recording of Homebrewed Christianity with John Cobb, Catherine Keller, and Jack Caputo. IMO, the quote of the night came from Cobb: [Read more...]

What Happened to Evangelical Theology? [#ETS2014 Liveblog]

This weekend I’m attending the Evangelical Theological Society and American Academy of Religion, and I will be liveblogging some of the sessions that I’m attending.

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Assessing Stanley Grenz’s Contribution to Evangelical Theology: 10 Years Later,” that’s the name of the session I’m attending at ETS. But Stan’s death isn’t the only thing that happened ten years ago at ETS. That was also the year that ETS voted against Open Theology, for all intents and purposes expelling people like Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, and John Sanders. Now, when you look through the program book, in addition to the annual reaffirmation of inerrancy in the image above, you will see that many sessions are dominated by Southern Baptists.

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8:50am Jason Sexton just presented Edna Grenz, Stan’s widow, with a volume of 20 essays in his honor. She implored the gathered scholars to not just continue Stan’s theological rigor, but to also treat one another with humility and respect as they debate one another.

8:54am Sexton continues that many, looking back, do not think that Stan really understood postmodernism. Some also incorrectly believe that he had departed evangelicalism before his death. This would only happen, Sexton says, if we look exclusively at Stan’s academic work and ignore his spiritual and ecclesial life.

Sexton also thinks that Stan is unfairly criticized for his book on homosexuality,Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality. Instead than being a recalcitrant evangelical, Sexton says, Granz was “ahead of us” on sexuality, women, postmodernity, and the Trinity.

Who’s the real Stan Grenz? That’s what Sexton tried to discover in his dissertation, but he says Stan cannot be found in the secondary literature — the books and articles about Grenz. That’s because, “Maybe we’re afraid of what we might find, how the real Stan Grenz might push us beyond our own boundaries.”

9:05am Derek Tidball takes on the topic of Stan Grenz and Evangelicalism. He says that evangelicalism is virtually impossible to define doctrinally, so others define it historically. But Grenz argued that evangelicalism is a living, mutating organism. By seeing the Bible as the book of the community, Grenz was faithful to his Baptist roots, and that’s something that evangelicalism at large should heed. Stan is wrongfully called the “godfather of the emerging church.” [Read more...]


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