Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Christianity Rediscovered Chapter 8


I hope everybody had a dandy Memorial Day and such.

And now, thoughts on Chapter 8 of the book. Unfortunately I have misplaced my book in the past couple days, so I don't have it to reference it. But I will find it before the day is done and post the beloved comments.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

10 comments:

Sam said...

Ooh this is my first time to be number one to post. So last saturday, I decided I was going to pull out my book and catch up to all these quality people who can actually read and comment and interact with intellectual candor. With all good intention, I discovered that I didn't know where my book was. I continued to look until I decided that hope was lost and the book (much like others) would never be found. ;-)

You know, part of my growth as a person and as a Christian has been the ability to admit that sometimes we just suck, and find grace in it. Life is good, but God is better. My final words on this book unless I run into my copy soon. Dr. Seuss once said "If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good."

May we move from the need for intellectual knowledge into the practice of obedience, even when we don't fully comprehend the final outcome. Blessings friends.

Kevin said...

Sam:

Good reminders. And I'm always up for the wisdom of Dr. Seuss. I've got kids.

1. One of the things I love about postmodern thought is the freedom to be different depending on the makeup of the group and the contextual stuff. So Donovan's critique of the program for young churches rings true for me: "it is just that they can imagine no church different in form from their own."

2. I really like his comment: "Paganism is a closed and fatalistic system. What we are asking them to believe, in their prayers, is not that the laws of the universe are being suspended, but that creation is open-ended and continuing." But that last phrase, "open-ended and continuing" still freaks too many people in the Church out. Somehow, our modernness makes us think that we have it all figured out. Brian, "We're so stupid!"

3. I thought that he continued that idea in a really interesting direction. "As a missionary, I would have to try to open the Masai people to the presence of God. Holiness for them would not be counted in great deeds done, but simply in remaining open to God and man and creation. I had to tell them, 'To be holy means to be open. If God is present to you, all things are possible. There is no limit to what you can become.'" I'd really like to get y'all's feedback on that.

4. Because I value ordination so much Donovan's thoughts on what it should mean to the Masai is mind-stretching. But he makes a good arguement. And I do agree that it shouldn't look the same the world over.

5. He seems to address some of my questions from chapter 7 about the Church being about more than just evangelization when he says, "I think we come here to a notion and definition of the church tha is of utmost importance in understanding what is involved in the carrying out and completion of missionary work - the idea of a eucharistic community with a mission."

6. I'm not sure what he means when he says, "If only the Catholic meaning of priesthood could come to live with the Protestant meaning of faithful in the church, we might yet arrive at a new understanding of the power and lgory of Christianity." Maybe y'all can help me.

7. And finally, his last sentence sounds good but I think it stops short. "The final missionary step as regards the people of any nation or culture, and the most important lesson we will ever teach them - is to leave them." It should as soon as possible become their church too. But what about staying connected with them because we are part of the same body? What about having community with them because we are connected?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts to keep pushing me. Have a great day!

Josh said...

Kevin,

Thanks for the comments. I esp. want to follow up on the question about the combo between catholic and protestant.

I am running out the door to visit family in VA, so I wont' be able to post on this one yet, or put anything on the next one...so let's wait until next Tuesday (and then...).

Peace,

Josh

Brian said...

Sam, I am, well said. Perhaps if we worked on just obeying the things we do know Jesus said...

1. I L-O-V-E the "God is continuing to create" langauage and especially... "The purpose of prayer is to open us up fully to that power."

2. The comments on being a "Christian witch doctor" are particularly real and challenging. Have we not manipulated the gospel to create a need for ourselves on more than one occasion? "Hey, if you died tonight do you know where you'd go? No? Well, let me tell you about your problem... and what do you know... I happen to have the solution... and it happens to involve you attending some place that validates me and giving money to it so I can have a salary. Oh, and by the way, if you say yes, I'll light another candle, put another notch in my rosary bead and print out more tracks!!" (uh... probably went too far there)

3. "A community is a group of people who are vitally realted to one another, persons so viatally interrelated that their very fate is in the hands of the others in the community." This is a really good definition. It reminds me of a friend who from time to time says at our parting, "I need you." While it may sound a little on the "light in the loafers" side, the more you realize how true that is and how real that is, the better it is.

4. Finally I must also say that I love the exit strategy. I think clearly realizing where we might be called - missionary, pastor, etc. - is key here, but vital.

Kevin, I love thinking that "all things are possible to you". The future isn't told yet, what do you want it to be???

Josh said...

Dangit, I just typed forever and lost my work.

Oh well. First things first.

CONGRATULATIONS KEVIN!!! A new boy! We're so happy!

Second things: been busy with sister in law graduating, aubrey was sick, and new intern.

What he wrote about discovering the gifts of the people and putting them into practice has been working me over in youth ministry. So, I've just been asking God to show me the gifts of the teens and then to get them to use them. I think I try to rely on some type of formal training, giftedness program or something in order to get something started, when a kid could be doing what he's made to do right now!

Anyway, a couple comments.

1. Responding to Kevin's Number 6: I think Catholics have a very sacred idea of the priesthood, while the protestants have watered it down in trying to spread it out. It'd be great to bring the sacredness back, while spreading it out to the faithful (perhaps that's what he means).

2. I love his thoughts on prayer: perhaps people don't pray because it is a dangerous thing.

3. The priest "does not have to be the hero of the action."

Alright, you guys are great!

renee said...

So I'm a little behind on posting, but better late than never.
I only have one additional comment to those that you guys made. I really liked the part about the fiat being 2-fold. As Donovan puts it, "I will be open to your presence continuing to create in me, and I am willing to be involved in this answer to prayer." Many times my prayers stop after the first part, but I want to remember more and more to pray the 2nd part. I think it puts you in a very different mindset to think both.
Josh, I like what you had to say about the Catholic and Protestant ideas about priesthood and how merging them like that would be a good thing. I will now refer to you as Father Josh.
I also like Donovan's thoughts on the traditional church not being able to imagine a church different their own. My question is, how do we encourage creativity, getting us, the church, to imagine a church that is ours, when we already have a pretty set idea of what church is? Because I don't think it will just happen.
Some of the rest of my questions/comments are directed to those of you who have studied theology more formally or have gone through some of the church ceremonies that I haven't. Kevin talked about Donovan's definition of holiness for the Masai. I must confess that although I have grown up in a "holiness" church my whole life, I don't know that I could tell you exactly what it means. So this seems like a good definition to me, but I was interested in hearing what you seminarians had to say.
2nd question is about ordination. The Masai didn't have a set of regulations, classes and committees before whom they had to appear. Should we as a church? Kevin (or other ordinates), what about the process was so valuable to you? Why should this process exist?
Lastly, Donovan's hit em' and leave 'em philosophy doesn't always sit well with me. I can see the virtue of letting the people become their own church, but why can't a pastor/evangelist/whatever you want to call him/her be a part of that group? Roy Williams was a NC boy through and through, but he came to KS and established a program and built something that not only his players and fans were a part of but that he was most intregrally intwined in. I like the system of going and staying (I wish Roy would have) and connecting. Sure, let the people be their own church and you can be one of those people.
It's a beautiful Sat so I'm out of here. Chapt 9 later.

Josh said...

Renee:

Three things...

1. Whoa, I loved the Roy William's quote. I agree with you, that the hit 'em and leave 'em process doesn't sit well with me. But I think that's where the Spirit comes in to help. I think it's probably better for some to stay and better for others to leave.

2. Ordination: I'm not ordained, but the value of ordination that I have is that there is a community of followers of Christ who say they believe in what God is doing in you. That's what I like about it. Now, as far as it being limited to pastors and priests, I'm not sure if that's completely healthy. Wouldn't it be something if there was some type of way to convey to every person in the church that they are believed in and that we are grateful for them (going to Brian's "I need you" quote).

3. OK, I only have 2 things. But I am curious to see what others have to say about holiness.

Sam said...

I just wanted to weigh in on the "hit 'em and leave 'em" thread. I see the sentiment of what you (Renee and Josh) are saying, and I understand the Roy Williams analogy, but I'm not sure it applies to missions.

I believe part of the reason this methodology is good is that it forces the church in a region to be real, to stand on their own feet. Leading for a time, and then leaving is also to a degree what Christ did with the church (at least in body). It moved the church to have councils to determine how it would respond to questions of its day, and I feel that the church today should do likewise. However, some problems in China are not the same as those of Kenya, or Britain, or Venezuela...This is the process of binding and loosing. It's mentioned in a couple of books where people deal with much more literary skillz than I can present here. ;-) But you should check otu Rob Bell's velvet elvis and especially Yoder's Body Politics if you haven't.

Again, I'm not promoting a one-night stand type of missionary philosophy, just trying to say that we each have to take ownership for our church, as well as take a corporate responsibility for the sin condition of our land. Peace

Kevin said...

Josh:

1. I think Renee’s new name for you is very fitting. So you are no longer a “knight who says, ‘nik,’” but are now “Father Josh.” (Pardon me, just a Monty Python flashback.)

2. I like what you said in point 1 and that makes sense. But if spreading it out is what has watered it down, how do we spread it but keep it sacred?

3. I also really resonate with your point 3. I think we’ve had too many people in the ministry who wanted to be heroes.

Brian:

1. Your and Donovan's comments about being a Christian witch doctor are scarry but probably true. God help us not be that way!

Renee:

1. I hear your frustration about getting the current Church to encourage creativity when our idea of Church is already set in stone, encased in cement, enclosed in titanium and buried a thousand feet under the ocean’s floor. (Okay, maybe you were nicer than that.) And I also agree that it won’t just happen. A few years ago, Brian McLaren used to talk a lot about the postmodern era maybe being a transitional time between the modern era and something else. Or he would also wonder if we weren’t really in the postmodern era yet but still in the initial transition phase. During this time, I think it just gets really messy. And I think the only way that the Church is open to change is by people who see the need for it, constantly talking about why it’s needed and why it’s a part of God’s plan and/or biblical. The messiness I think comes in the fallout of 1) people who see this being persistent and pushing it and 2) people who don’t and react strongly against it. I’ve come to believe that in order for change to happen, this is just inevitable. (The main reason I say so is that it seems that too many people are more interested into holding onto “their way” than being open to God’s way being different.) My hope is in the third group who may not see the need but are willing to explore it with God. I think if you continue to nurture creativity with them, that God will encourage that and help the Church becomes what He would like it to be.

2. About holiness, I really prefer to use the language, “being like Christ” with most people. It just makes more sense both as to why we should be that way and what it means. I certainly think that Donovan’s idea of openness is a part of it. But to wrap my head around holiness, I simply try to look at the character, actions, thoughts, feelings, etc. of Christ. Now I can try my hardest to be that way but it is only through the grace God gives me that I can even begin. Yes, I believe in Entire Sanctification as a second work of grace. But I think that we as a denomination have so over-emphasized this as to miss a lot of the point. If you follow God with all of your heart, God helps you be a little more like His Son each day as you let Him nurture you.

3. About ordination, I agree with what Josh was saying that one of the key elements is that the community has said, “We believe in what God is doing in you.” And I think that for me it’s the idea that you stand in a long line of others throughout history about whom this was said. Joy was somebody who felt like it would be no big deal until we went through it. But when we did, it was the idea that you are there to hear God’s heart and share that with people that deeply impacted her. I do feel for Donovan’s frustration about the Church not seeing in the Masai people who should be their priests because they haven’t had the “proper training” and “approval.” And I also struggle in our own denomination that in world areas, people are not allowed to be ordained until one of the six General Superintendents sees them and says so. There has to be a way that we can entrust that task to people further down the food chain. But, because I have a deep respect for ordination, I also don’t think it’s something that should be easy. You should have to go through a proving ground first. But, the ordained minister is not the end-all, know-all. For every person to be serving God to their fullest in the context that He wants them to serve is I believe more important to the Church; or at least as important. So, as you can see from all of my “buts,” there is a healthy tension between these two perspectives.

4. I think we’re all on the same page about the “hit ‘em and leave ‘em” philosophy. And anytime you can throw a KU illustration in there is good.

Sam:

1. It sounds like we all agree with the heart of what you are saying about the “hit ‘em and leave ‘em” philosophy. I think what we are struggling with deals more with the sense of community instead of allowing the church in Africa, China, or elsewhere stand on its own. I especially think that it’s important for it to be not somebody else’s church back in the US but my church here in Africa. But I long to be a part of a group of people who don’t move in and out of my world (they don’t have to physically be there) but with whom I take this journey together. I feel like I have a good start on that but would love for the Church as a whole to yearn for that. I think that we’d be a lot closer to being the body He had in mind if we did.

Brian said...

Renee thanks for the good questions here...

- "Holiness" - Renee I don't know why you can't clearly articulate a view on holiness when in a recent conversation with one of the leading theologians of our denomination he said, "There are at least 11 different definitions of holiness in our denomination and maybe as many as 17." Come on Renee!!!! I think you should be the one to bring us all together.

- Ordination - I do think there is some biblical prescedent here... Moses laid hands on those he brought in as "judges"... in rabbinic tradition the way someone is seen as having authority from God (like Jesus for example) had to have two others with authority lay hands on them and bless them. The sticking point for me is this "priesthood of all believers" line. I'm not sure I am comfortable just ordaining whoever ask for it, feels like it or wants to marry their friends, but I'm not sure our efforts at accountability don't become hoops to jump through.

- Hit em and leave em - It seems to me that we need to do what God calls us to do, whether that's staying long term or short term. I know we can't know the motives of someone elses heart, so I'm just going to be comfortable with God being God and calling people to obey him wherver he calls them.