Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Christianity Rediscovered Chapter 2

And we come to the second chapter of the book.

Here Donovan goes into the history of the Masai people, talking about their circumcision and cattle habits.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this chapter.

(If you weren't able to comment on the last chapter, feel free to follow up there.)

P.S. If you ever wondered, all cattle belongs to the Masai people and all goats belong to the Kleinfeld people.


Kevin said...

Hello Everyone:

I'm just jumping in the conversation now because of the mad rush of all the District Assembly visual stuff last week. I am caught up on reading and looking very forward to being a part of the journey.

Here are just a few of my thougths about the conversation so far.

From the Introduction

1. I love Renee's insight that "the reason scientists stay in science and love science is not because they find answers. . . . They love it because they want to see what happens, what the end result will be if there is one." I am encouraged to know that the shape of science is moving out of the "we can and must know everything" world into the "let's explore" world that I think it began in.

2. I really appreciated Kipper's perspective that if Christ came to point to the Father, "does it matter whether or not a religion/faith/belief brings those that hold to it to Christ?" It's a key point in my theology what Jesus said about not pointing to Himself but to the Father. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the "do other religions lead to God" discussion. So Kipper's point helps me connect the two issues. I don't have an answer but it helps me think about it.

3. I think that Josh is right on when he says, "I wonder if the encouragement for the pursuit of truth is a reaction to the force fed truth of the past." Again, I haven't completely worked out my understanding of absolute truth and where it can be found but I do know that force feeding my daughter corn one night to correct her defiant attitude led her to hate corn. (It's not as bad as it sounds.) But may we approach people in ways that help them love truth and not hate it.

Chapter 1

1. Josh, I love your Sweetism (propensity to make up words), "equippenizing."

2. Brian, you've hit the nail on the head with your comment, ". . . it seems to me that the church at its best is the subservient, underground church doing thigs to love people, not so much this formalized organization that we seem to have fallen in love with . . ."

And now some of my thoughts from the beginning to chapter 2:

1. Josh kind of laid out a bone and nobody bit on something I'd really like for us to get into. It starts in the preface with the statement, "To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation maybe the task of our time." Brian, I know that this is a big deal to you. Let's talk about it. The Church of the last few hundred years has seen its primary role as "getting people saved." I think that we've missed the mark; certainly with defining "saved" as whether your in or out of heaven. I believe that the Church's role is primarily to bring glory to God and live out what being His people means.

2. How about Donovan's statement also in the Preface that ". . . mission is not a one-way street moving away from the home church to the foreign mission field. The new, the young, and the particular churches of the Third World, spoken of by Vatican II, ahve something to say, in turn, to the church at large." No one really dealt with that. Is that because it has become so much a given for us? (I hope so!) Or is there any inkling of the Colonial mindset that we know all, will conquer all and convert all still left in how we approach (to use Renee's word) evy?

3. I love Donovan's comment again in the Preface: "The result, I think, could be a new church in a new place, a new ministry of the priesthood of all believers, away from the temple, far from the altar and sanctuary, out in the midst of human life as it is lived inthe neighborhoods, in the teeming, forlorn city; a ministry of politics and law, a ministry of commerce, a ministry of sports and entertainment and music, a ministry of human life and love; a ministry in which all of life and all of the world would be offered up with the bread and wine. all this is my body." The time is too far past when we as a Church need to know that our call is not to a building but to a life.

4. I think that Donovan's comment at the end of chapter 1 is a good discussion of a tension that I wish I knew more about how to solve. "To bring freedom or knowledge or health or prosperity to a people in order that they become Christians is a perversion of missionary work. But what of a system that would brin gthem progress and development for its own sake? Is that not just as bad?"

5. Donovan's description of the Masai in chapter 2 could describe a lot of the corners of the Church. "There is nofuture tense in the Masai language. Tomorrow will be like today. The Masai are utter conservatives, afraid of change of any kind. They are practically the only tribe in Tanzania that has been exposed to every kind of change, and have successfully resisted it. European clothes, houses, Western education adn agriculture have very little value in their eyes. . . they are a sixteenth or seventeenth century people, with tomorrow all around them, whose today is yesterday." This is probably one of the things that makes me the most frustrated; not with the Masai but the Church. And this is where I may sound inconsistent. I don't think that the Masai really need to change (culturally) if they don't want to. But the Church HAS to change if we want to be who God wants us to be for our time. And people who wed modernism with what it means to be the Church have taken us far off of the path of authentically following God.

6. And finally, (I promise that now that I'm caught up, I won't be so lengthy.) as much time as I spend strategizing, I often feel much like Donovan when he said, "Outside of this, I have no theory, noplan, no strategy, no gimmicks -- no idea of what will come. I feel rather naked. I will begin as soon as possible." I look forward to your input to help as we journey together.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm of a mind that Christianity Rediscovered is a crock. I mean, exactly how do we rediscover Christianity? We already know exactly what Christianity means. So how are we supposed to be able to rediscover it? It's like say we have to rediscover air everytime we take a breath.

This whole thing smacks of the New Age. You guys aren't a bunch of those emergent Church hippies are you? I sure hope not. Those emergent guys actually think John Wesley had something good to say. We all know his work was inspired by the devil. So is that emergent church "movement." It's all from the pit of hell.

I will pray for you guys that Jesus will convict you of your heresy, and that if you truly were Christians to start off with, you will return to the safety of you eternal security.

Nate said...

If anything, Donovan's second chapter brought a flood of memories to mind. I spent a year and half in Africa working with african men and women who felt called to plant and pastor churches. If anything, I feel that Donovan has prepared us to begin to understand the complexities of trying to communicate a western perspective of christianity to a people who are not western, but African.

Donovan speaks of moving from practice to theory. I wonder if this mirrors the development of the NT church. In the lives of our churches here in the US have we become overly dependent upon our developed theologies of worship, teaching, preaching and service? Do we need to step away from a theology that dictates a "proper" methodology first?

Brian said...

There were two comments that struck me as I read:

1) "I suddendly feel the urgent need to cast aside all theories and discussions, all efforts at strategy - and simply go to these people and do the work among them for which I came to Africa."

This grabbed me because it makes me wonder what it is that has been prescribed as "the work for which I came". I do believe that proclaiming faith in Christ is a good and worthy thing. I do believe that Christ and living life in his way is truly world changing, however, I also happen to believe that a big part of what it means to live in that way is be concerned for one another beyond just getting someone to say a prayer or act a certain way. I believe that God the whole of us. I wonder at what point one part of that whole is more influential on the whole than another. (If you didn't follow that... now you know how my wife feels amidst my mumblings!)

2) "All I knew was that in my work, it would not be a case of going from theory to practice. It would have to be the oether way around, a necessity of procceding from practice to theory."

Theology not formed in the midst of community in life is not really theology after all. This so resonates with where I am and what I hear so many others saying. The community must work it out among themselves, in between the threads of their lives as they are woven together. Everything must be deconstructed, reworked, re-realized, re-imagined...

Well sounds a lot like what Jesus did and helped his disciples learn to do.

p.s. I thought the llamas belonged to the Kleinfelds...

daveapplegate said...

just a few verses that i thought of while reading the comments above. i wont go into much detail and i'll let you fill in the context:

Jesus said, 'all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you. and surely i am with you always, to the very end of the age.' (matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus said, 'i am the way, the truth, and the life. no one comes to the Father except through me. if you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. from now on, you do know him and have seen him.' (john 14:6, 7)

Josh said...

hey there friends,

kevin glad to see you've joined.

mr. anon sounds incredibly familiar.

My thoughts on this chapter...

1. I'm interested in the idea that he came to the masai people with no agenda except to tell them about God. No bait, no hook, no big program.

I wonder if this works with american ministry. it seems that gimmicks are a huge part of children's and youth ministry. but i think what was intentional about Donovan, was his emphasis on forming relationships with the Masai. Not relationships where he would suddenly spring "God-talk" on them, but relationships where they knew where he stood. I think sometimes ministry tries to come in the backdoor and spring "god-talk" on people when they were just expecting to have a good time...

2. And, "from the beginning it was evident that we were going to have to learn from them as well as teach them."

The heart of mission...learning while you teach. I cannot adequately speak into someone's life without knowing their life.

3. Practice to theology...yes. Just go out and live it. We're going to screw up, we're going to say things we wish we hadn't said, we're going to do things we regret, but we're also going to be giving love, giving mercy, to others who wouldn't recieve it if we just sit on our butts. Personally, one of my fears is that I'll say something stupid...

Sam said...

Hey Friends,

I would like to apologize for my lack of involvement in the discussion to this point. This engineering school bit is a bit grinding. However, after this weekend I should be able to catch up and get involved.

A few thoughts:

1. Education is dangerous without practice. I know a lot of people have heard (usually older) people in their church talk about education as "the devil's tool." I really think this is possible. If we aren't exposing ourselves to the reality of the world's situation and getting down in it with people, the "Hope that we have" from Hebrews dies, and we're left simply with academic excuses for why we're not involved with our church and in spreading the gospel. No offense to those of you who have attended seminary, but I think this is a huge problem in many of these institutions. I say this not from watching people, but from talking to friends in seminary who say their passion is gone. I understand this is partly due to exhaustion, but I think it also is from a lack of purpose. Jesus seminary (discipleship, right) taught as they walked from place to place (and even in places too. ;-))
Ostensibly what I'm saying is that we're almost all practical people. I'd like to think of myself as academic, but I'm not. I've understood God's passion for the broken world as I've understood personally His healing touch for all the crap I've brought into my own life. I understand God's provision not as I sit comfortably in my seat, but as I step out into places where God tells me to go without knowing the next step, and he provides. Anyway, point number one for me is "we learn through practice." I know I'm just restating what you guys have said more eloquently, but we engineers need to work on our communication skills...

2. I hope anonymous was just having a good time and joking around. If so, good one. If not, there are some things I think should be said. Firstly, reading and analyzing a title and breaking it down as to the meaning of the book is a bit over-presumptuous. Saying something "Smacks of a new age" with a book title is a stretch. (unless of course that book was titled "This smacks of a new age."

Secondly, did not Jesus come to say to the religious establishment who wished to maintain the status quo and the people who lived according to their ideas "You have heard it said, but I tell you..." over and over again? We miss the point if all we care about it returning to the security of our eternal salvation, and playing heresy watchdog.

I'll leave the Wesley thing alone, as you're obviously convinced of his status with your assumption that "we all know his work was inspired of the devil."

Lastly and seriously, we humbly do desire your prayers that God will deliver us from any heresy. So please pray for us. It's a touchy thing to work out one's salvation with fear and trembling. I for one pray that the Holy Spirit would be with all of us as we read through and discuss this book.

3. I need to get to work. I'll try to catch up this weekend. Good on all of ya!


Josh said...


No worries about the anonymous comments...he's a friend. you might say we came under "friendly-fire". I believe it is of the Jeff edmonson variety of friend.

Glad you could join in!