In fact, he’s a very prominent leader:
In fact, he’s a very prominent leader:
I’ve been a critic of denominations. That’s not because the people who work for denominations are bad — in fact, just about everyone I know who holds a denominational position is a good, loving, Christ-centered person. I have great respect for them.
It’s not the people that is the problem, it’s the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is bad for the gospel. Bureaucracy is good at sustaining itself, but only for its own sake, not for a larger, more noble purpose like the gospel.
I think that denominations might take a lesson from a new kind of company in America. These companies are being founded and funded, but they have no managers.
When I started as the Minister to Youth & Young Adults at Colonial Church in 1997, I inherited a lot of programs, as most pastors do. Among them were Sunday school for both middle schoolers and high schoolers. Since I couldn’t be two places at once, I alternated weeks between them, and I had other leaders help me out.
The very first realization I had was that the high school students hated Sunday School. I mean they HATED it. Only about half a dozen students came, and they were all sophomores who hadn’t yet gotten their driver’s licenses. (Freshmen were in confirmation class, and they were required to attend worship.)
So I canceled Sunday School for high school students. They were relieved. Some of their parents were pissed. And I announced in staff meeting, “We’d better figure out ways to make our worship services more relevant to teenagers, because they’re be in worship as of next week.”
I’m happy to report that the church staff did up their game. The senior pastor began using more anecdotes from when he was in high school in his sermons. And when he gave litanies like, “This week, when you’re at work, with friends, at the gym…” he now added “at school” to those lists.
The choir director invited high school students into the choir, and I started putting students down to read scripture and lead prayers in the services.
I have a great deal of respect for Tim Keller. Honestly, of all of the leaders of the Reformed “resurgence,” I like Keller the most. He seems thoughtful, evenhanded, and I know many people who go to his excellent church. I’ve never met him (though I’ve tried), and he used to frequent this blog.
But I have a bone to pick. At John Piper’s conference here in Minneapolis last week, Keller responded to a Justin Taylor question by stating that Emergent is 1) moving away from orthodoxy, and 2) not starting any churches or institutions.
I wasn’t planning to post on my lunch last month with John Piper, but since he mentioned it in public at his conference last weekend, I guess it’s on the record. I emailed him (and three of the presenters at his conference — all the rest said they were too busy to get together) to ask him to lunch or coffee in order to clear up any misconceptions. So many caricatures of emergent(s) exists, that I wanted to see exactly who he thought we are and see if that was accurate.
We met on September 13. I brought Doug Pagitt, and Piper brought three of his co-workers. Piper said he’d never heard of me before, and that he was only vaguely aware of Emergent Village. His beef is with the writings of Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke. He’s read Chalke’s book, and says that he was personally hurt by Steve’s characterization of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement as “cosmic child abuse” (I personally find this phrase, which Chalke borrows from feminist scholars, to be overcharged rhetoric). I didn’t get the impression that Piper has read anything by McLaren, but Brian’s endorsement of Chalke’s book was enough to concern him (in fact, Brian writes about penal subsitution in Generous Orthodoxy, but in his usual “This is what some people have said about this” way).
“I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”
Those were among the comments that Pope Francis made yesterday in Brazil, as a part of [Catholic] World Youth Day. The pope continues to talk about Christianity in a way that makes it seem like a different religion than his predecessor’s. He was even more poignant in his comments while visiting one of Rio’s barrios (aka, slums):
Yesterday, I accused C. Michael Patton of holding a heretical view of the Trinity. He does. He thinks that the Trinity is a “functional hierarchy,” which contravenes the historic creedal belief that the persons of the Trinity are co-equal in all respects. It probably also makes him a modalist, or at least a dynamic monarchianist, since he overemphasizes the role of each member of the Trinity, and thus emphasizes the oneness over the threeness of the Godhead. (I imagine that he would disagree with me on the modalism charge.)
My friend, Rachel Held Evans, saw the post, and liked it. But she also tweeted,
@jonestony Yeah, I don’t like the word “heretical” having been at the receiving end of that accusation so often…
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) July 24, 2013
I guess “heretical” is what you’d call a “trigger word” for Rachel.
Hunting, I predict, will be the next hipster activity. Having taken to carving their own meat, mixing handcrafted cocktails, and growing mustaches, I expect that a bunch of skinny-jeaners are going to join me afield in the coming years.
Yesterday, hunter and writer Steven Rinella wrote about how he is both a serious writer and a big game hunter, a combo to which I also aspire:
This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog, but it’s time to be bullish about the future of progressive Christianity (aka, Incarnational Christians). According to a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, the proportion of religious conservatives in the United States is shrinking with each successive generation, and close to 20 percent of Americans today are religious progressives.
In American, conservative theology is waning, progressive theology is waxing.
Here’s what it currently looks like:
Two super-popular Christian leaders have recently made public statements about what happens when you die. And they’re both terribly wrong.
First, our friend, Rick Warren, tweeted this: