Thursday, December 11, 2008

Revisiting "Emergent"

A New Kind of Christian- Brian McLaren

"Now take a moment and let this really sink in. To the Christian culture of medieval Europe, none of you today could be considered real Christians. True, you might say that you believe in Jesus and that you follow the Bible- but that would sound like nonsense to them if at the same time you denied what to them was essential for any reasonable person to accept: the medieval worldview, which was the context of their faith [(ie-astronomy, Copernicus etc)]. That brings me to an important question for you to think about: Is it possible that we as moderns have similarly intertwined a different but equally contingent worldview, with our eternal faith? And another question: What if we live at the end of the modern period, at a time when our modern worldview is crumbling, just as the medieval one began to do in the sixteenth century?" - Pg 34

"Most modern people love to relativize the viewpoints of the others against the unquestioned superiority of their own modern viewpoint. But in a way, you cross the threshold into postmodernity the moment you turn your critical scrutiny from others to yourself, when you relativize your own modern viewpoint. When you do this, everything changes. It is like a conversion. You cant go back. You begin to see that what seemed like pure, objective certainty really depends heavily on a subjective preference for your personal viewpoint." -Pg 35

"Our interpretations reveal less about God or the Bible than they do about ourselves. They reveal what we want to defend what we want to attack, what we want to ignore, what we're unwilling to question. When Judgment Day comes, God might ask a lot of us how we interpreted the Bible-not to judge if our interpretations are right or wrong but to let our interpretations reveal our hearts. That will be telling enough." =Pg 50

Searching for God Knows What- Donald Miller

"How many people have walked away from faith because their systematic theology proved unable to answer the deep longings and questions of the soul? What we need here, truly, is faith in a Being, not a list of ideas." p 161

"The story bears repeating: I presented the gospel to Christian Bible college students and left out Jesus. Nobody noticed....To a culture that believes they "go to heaven" based on whether or not they are morally pure, or that they understand some theological ideas, or that they are very spiritual, Jesus is completely unnecessary. At best, He is an afterthought, a technicality by which we become morally pure, or a subject of which we know, or a founding father of our woo-woo spirituality."p 159

"And then I wondered at how Jesus could say He was a Shepherd and we were sheep, and that the Father in heaven was our Father and we were His children, and He Himself was a Bridegroom and we were His bride, and that He was a King and we were His subjects, and yet we somehow missed His meaning and thought becoming a Christian was like sitting in a chair."p 157

"I get this feeling sometimes that after the world ends, when God destroys all our buildings and our flags, we will wish we had seen everybody as equal...." p104

"If you ask me, the way to tell if a person knows God for real, I mean knows the real God, is that they will fear Him. They wouldn't go around making absurd political assertions and drop God's name like an ace card, and they wouldn't be making absurd statements about how God wants you to be rich and how if you send in some money to the ministry God will bless you. It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe."p 38

"If I weren't a Christian, and I kept seeing Christian leaders on television more concerned with money, fame, and power than with grace, love and social justice, I wouldn't want to believe in God at all."p 28

"The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out....dissected and put into jars on the shelf."p 20

Blue Like Jazz- Donald Miller

"Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to a formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder." p 205

"I think we have two choices in the face of such big beauty: terror or awe. And this is precisely why we attempt to chart God, because we want to be able to predict Him, to dissect Him...We reduce Him to math so we don't have to fear Him, and yet the Bible tells us fear is the appropriate response, that it is the beginning of wisdom...I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon once, behind a railing, and though I was never going to fall off the edge, I feared the thought of it." p 205

"Many of our attempts to understand Christian faith have only cheapened it." p 202

"It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances. If we get caught, we will be punished. But that doesn't make us good people; it only makes us subdued." p 18

Fools Gold- John MacArthur

"By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir peoples emotions. But that is not genuine worship." p38

"The showman's ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible's ability to transform lives"p 41

"There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement [who] massage people's egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects...
Like the ubiquitous Plexiglas lecterns from which these messages are delivered, such preaching is lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the mind of the hearers." p36

"Choice- saturated, capitalistic, American Christians [need to] discern the difference between seeking God's kingdom and building their own." p 165

"Truth be told, Jesus never spoke in terms of a one-time decision that you make about Him but rather exhorted His hearers to follow Him wholeheartedly for all of their lives. Christ was calling people to a life that continually confesses Him before men. We do not find in Scripture that the test of discipleship is a one time decision." p134

"Mindless emotionalism, often hyped up by repetition and "letting go", comes closer to the paganism of the Gentiles (cf Matt 6:7) than to any form of biblical worship." p126

"The music has been carefully and purposefully brought to this intense emotional peak. One senses that this is the whole purpose of the congregational singing-to elevate emotions to a white-hot fervor. The more intense the feeling, the more people are convinced they have truly "worshiped"." p 120

"When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church's agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ." p37

A Generous Orthodoxy- Brian McLaren

"Has [Christ] become (I shudder to ask this) less our Lord, and more our mascot?"p86

"How many of us have used the cross in Caesar's way, to dominate, rather than in Jesus' way, to liberate?" p 91

"Is it any surprise that with this understanding of salvation, churches tend to become gatherings of self-interested people who gather for mutual self-interest--constantly treating the church as a purveyor of religious goods and services, constantly shopping and "trading up" for churches that can "meet my needs" better?"p118

"This competitive Protestant religious market eventually spawned a kind of infomercial mentality, where each group advertised its unique features, seeking loyal customers for their religious products and services." p137

"To the degree they preoccupy themselves with the question of who's right , to the exclusion of considering whether they are truly good (as in bearing good fruit) they're destined to fade, wither, fail. To the degree that they have sold their spiritual birthright for a political ideology, they must repent; neither left nor right leads to the higher kingdom." p154

"We must, therefore, never underestimate our power to be wrong when talking about God, when thinking about God, when imagining God...language can be a window through which one glimpses God, but never a box in which God can be contained." p170,171

"I believe that we must be always reforming, not because we've got it wrong and were closer and closer to finally getting it right, but because our mission is ongoing and our context is dynamic. For this viewpoint "getting it right" is beside the point; the point is being and doing good as followers of Jesus in our unique time and place, fitting in with the ongoing story of God's saving love for Planet Earth." p 214

"Believing as I do that doctrinal distinctives are a lot like cigarettes, the use of which often leads to a hard to break Protestant habit that is hazardous to spiritual health (and that makes the breath smell bad)..."p217

"While some Protestants seem to let Jesus be Savior, but promote Paul to Lord and Teacher, Anabaptists have always interpreted Paul through Jesus, and not the reverse." p231

"Just as the early Christians could not imagine the gospel outlasting the Roman Empire, 19th century Evangelicals couldn't imagine the gospel outlasting modernity, the empire of Scientism, consumerism, and individualism." p268

"Given the chance, would Christianity eradicate every vestige of the world's other religions?" p286

"We must be open to the perpetual possibility that our received understandings of the gospel may be faulty, imbalanced, poorly nuanced, or downright warped and twisted." p 294

"I am more and more convinced that Jesus didn't come merely to start another religion to compete in the marketplace of other religions. If anything, I believe he came to end standard competitive religion (which Paul called the law) by fulfilling it; I believe He came to open up something beyond religion- a new possibility, a realm, a domain, a territory of the spirit that welcomes everyone but requires everyone to think again and become like little children" p299

"A generous orthodoxy must look back on our first 2,000 years of Christian history and face our failures, our atrocities, our abdications, our cowardice, our complicity, our betrayal of Jesus, and say to ourselves, "Never Forget"." p 305

"True prophets (those who bring a new word from God to assist in the current process of emergence) are crucified; false prophets (those who promise shortcuts that will cause regression or stagnation) are made rich and famous. The process is messy." p 323

"In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink wrapped forever." p 325

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spurgeon Quotes

Chapter 1: The minister's Self-Watch.

“It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus”.

“It is a terrible thing when the healing balm loses its efficacy through the blunderer who administers it. You all know the injurious effects frequently produced upon water through flowing along leaden pipes; even so the gospel itself, in flowing through men who are spiritually unhealthy, may be debased until it grows injurious to their hearers.”

“True and genuine piety is necessary as the first indispensable requisite; whatever “call” a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.”

“Should we as a a nation be called to defend our hearths and homes, we should not send out our boys and girls with swords and guns to meet the foe, nether may the church send out every fluent novice or inexperienced zealot to plead for the faith. The fear of the Lord must teach the young man wisdom, or he is barred from the pastorate; the grace of God must mature his spirit, or he had better tarry till power be given him from on high.”

Chapter 2: The Call to Ministry

“The apostle says, 'Now then we are ambassadors for God;' but does not the very soul of the ambassadorial office lie in the appointment which is made by the monarch represented? An ambassador unsent would be a laughing-stock.”

“The first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all absorbing desire for the work. In order to a true call to the ministry there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling to others what God has done to our own souls.”

“'Do not enter the ministry if you can help it'...for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit but that for which his inmost soul pants.”

“This desire should be one which continues with us, a passion which bears the test of trial, a longing from which it is quite impossible for us to escape, though we may have tried to do so; a desire, in fact, which grows more intense by the lapse of years, until it becomes a yearning, a pining, a famishing, to proclaim the Word.”

“If a man be called to preach, he will be endowed with a degree of speaking ability, which he will cultivate and increase.”

“Do not run about inviting yourselves to preach here and there; be more concerned about your ability than your opportunity, and more earnest about your walk with God than about either. The sheep will know the Godsent shepherd; the porter of the fold will open to you, and the flock will know your voice.”

“That which finally evidences a proper call, is a correspondent opening in providence, by a gradual train of circumstances pointing out the means, the time, the place, of actually entering upon the work.”

“It is very difficult to restrain ourselves within the bounds of prudence here, when our zeal is warm: a sense of love of Christ upon our hearts, and a tender compassion for poor sinners, is ready to prompt us to break out too soon; but he that believeth shall not make haste.”

Chapter 3: The Preacher's Private Prayer

“All our libraries and studies are mere emptiness compared with our closets. We grow, we wax mighty, we prevail in private prayer.”

“Prayer, as a mental exercise, will bring many subjects before the mind, and so help in the selection of a topic, while as a high spiritual engagement it will cleanse your inner eye that you may see truth in the light of God.”

“Certain brethren aim at inspiration through exertion and loud shouting; but it does not come: some we have known to stop the discourse, and exclaim, 'God bless you,' and others gesticulate wildly, and drive their finger nails into their palms of their hands as if they were in convulsions of celestial ardor. Bah! The whole thing smells of the green-room and the stage. The getting up of fervor in hearers by the simulation of it in the preacher is a loathsome deceit to be scorned by honest men.”

Chapter 5: Sermons-Their Matter

“Brethren, weigh your sermons. Do not retail them by the yard, but deal them out by the pound. Set no store by the quantity of words which you utter, but strive to be esteemed for the quality of your matter.”

“We must throw all our strength of judgment, memory, imagination, and eloquence into the delivery of the gospel.”

“You should make your sermons like a loaf of bread, fit for eating, and in convenient form.”

“We must in these times say a great deal in a few words, but not too much, nor with too much amplification...One tenpenny nail driven home and clenched will be more useful than a score of tin-tacks loosely fixed, to be pulled out again in an hour.”

Chapter 6: On the Choice of Text

“Let us abhor all one-sidedness, all exaggeration of one truth and disparagement of another, and let us endeavor to paint the portrait of truth with balanced features and blended colors, lest we dishonor her by presenting distortion instead of symmetry, and a caricature for faithful copy.”

“Your pulpit preparations are your first business, and if you neglect these, you will bring no credit upon yourself or your office.”

Chapter 12: The Minister's Ordinary Conversation

“The bow, of course, must be at times unstrung, or else it will lose its elasticity; but there is no need to cut the string.”

“Salt is of no use in the box; it must be rubbed into the meat; and our personal influence must penetrate and season society...Our Master went to a wedding, and ate bread with publicans and sinners, and yet was far more pure than those sanctimonious Pharisees, whose glory was that they were separate from their fellowmen.”

“Give me the man around whom the children come, like flies around a honey-pot: they are first-class judges of a good man. When Solomon was tried by the Queen of Sheba, as to his wisdom, the rabbis tell us that she brought some artificial flowers with her, beautifully made and delicately scented, so as to be facsimiles of real flowers. She asked Solomon to discover which were artificial and which were real. The wise man bade his servants open the window, and when the bees came in they flew at once to the natural flowers, and cared nothing for the artificial. So you will find that children have their instincts, and discover very speedily who is their friend, and depend upon it the children's friend is one who will be worth knowing.”

“An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living.”

“But if you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words. Frequently you cannot convince a man by tugging at his reason, but you can persuade him by winning his affections.”

Chapter 21: Earnestness: Its Marring and Maintenance

“In many instances ministerial success is traceable almost entirely to an intense zeal, a consuming passion for souls, and an eager enthusiasm in the cause of God, and we believe that in every case, other things being equal, men prosper in the divine service in proportion as their hearts are blazing with holy love. 'The God that answereth by fire, let him be God'; and the man who has the tongue of fire, let him be God's minister.”

“Moreover, for the sake of our church members, and converted people, we must be energetic, for if we are not zealous, neither will they be. It is not in order of nature that rivers should run uphill, and it does not often happen that zeal rises from the pew to the pulpit.”

“If the prophet leaves his heart behind him when he professes to speak in the name of God, what can he expect but that the ungodly around him will persuade themselves that there is nothing in his message, and that his commission is a farce.”

“Be earnest, and you will seem to be earnest. A burning heart will soon find for itself a flaming tongue. To sham earnestness is one of the most contemptible of dodges for courting popularity; let us abhor the very thought. Go and be listless in the pulpit if you are so in your heart. Be slow in speech, drawling in tone, and monotonous in voice, if so you can best express your soul; even that would be infinitely better than to make your ministry a masquerade and yourself an actor.”

“If non-success humbles us it is well, but if it discourages us, and especially if it leads us to think bitterly of more prosperous brethren, we ought to look about us with grave concern.”

“Never say 'it is enough', nor accept the policy of 'rest and be thankful.' Do all you possibly can, and then do a little more.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kierkegaard Quotes

From "The Journals"

"God creates everything out of nothing -and everything that God will use he first reduces to nothing."

"The only possible exception [to having chosen Christ] would be: that you might have possibly been saved another way. To that he cannot answer. It is as though one were to say to someone in love, 'yes, but might you have fallen in love with another girl'; to which he would have to answer: 'there is no answer to that, for I only know that she is my love. The moment a lover can answer that objection he is eo ipso not a lover; and if a believer can answer that question he is eo ipso not a believer."

"Paganism never gets nearer the truth than Pilate: What is truth? And with that crucifies it."

"The idea of philosophy is mediation-Christianity's is the paradox."

"A man who cannot seduce men cannot save them either."

From "Philosophical Fragments"
"One cannot seek for what he knows, and it seems equally impossible to seek for what one does not know."

From "Postscript"

"But who is this systematic thinker? Aye, it is he who is outside of existence and yet in existence, who is in his eternity forever complete, and yet includes all existence within himself-it is God."

"And the principle that not only he is in want who desires something he does not have, but also he who desires the continued possession of what he already has."

"If a dancer could leap very high, we should admire him. But if he tried to give the impression that he could fly, let laughter single him out for suitable punishment, even though it might be true that he could leap as high as any dancer ever had done. Leaping is the accomplishment of a being essentially earthly, one who respects the earth's gravitational force, since the leaping is only momentary. But flying carries a suggestion of being emancipated from telluric conditions, a privilege reserved for winged creatures, and perhaps also shared by the inhabitants of the moon-and there perhaps the System will first find its true readers [lunatics]."

"On the contrary, the subjective acceptance is precisely the decisive factor; and an objective acceptance of Christianity is Paganism or thoughtlessness."

"In this way Christianity protests every form of objectivity. It desires that the subject should be infinitely concerned about himself."

"Devoutness inheres in subjectivity, nobody ever becomes devout objectively."

"If one who lives in the midst of Christianity goes up to the house of God, the house of the true God, with the true conception of God in his knowledge, and prays, but prays in a false spirit; and one who lives in an idolatrous community prays with the entire passion of the infinite, although his eyes rest upon the image of an idol: where is there most truth? The one prays in truth to God through he worships an idol; the other prays falsely to the true God, and hence worships in fact an idol."

"In the case of a mathematical proposition the objectivity is given, but for this reason the truth of such a proposition is also an indifferent truth. But the above definition of truth is an equivalent expression for faith. Without risk there is no faith. Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual's inwardness and the objective uncertainty. If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe."

"The eternal truth has come into being in time: this is the paradox"

"For without risk there is no faith, and the greater the risk, the greater the faith; the more objective security, the less inwardness (for inwardness is precisely subjectivity), and the less objective security, the more profound the possible inwardness."

"The absurd is precisely by its objective repulsion the measure of the intensity of faith in inwardness. Suppose a man who wishes to acquire faith; let the comedy begin. He wishes to have faith, but he wishes also to safeguard himself by means of an objective inquiry and its approximation-process. What happens? With the help of the approximation-process the absurd becomes something different: it becomes probable, it becomes increasingly probable, it becomes extremely and emphatically probable. Now he is ready to believe it, and he ventures to claim for himself that he does not believe as shoemakers and tailors and simple folk believe, but only after long deliberation. Now he is ready to believe it; and lo, now it has become precisely impossible to believe it. Anything that is almost probable, or probable, or extremely and emphatically probable, is something he can almost know, or as good as know, or extremely and emphatically almost know-but it is impossible to believe. For the absurd is the object of faith, and the only object that can be believed."

"Christianity is no doctrine concerning the unity of the divine and the human, or concerning the identity of the subject and object; nor is it any other of the logical transcriptions of Christianity. If Christianity were a doctrine, the relationship to it would not be one of faith, for only an intellectual type of relationship can correspond to a doctrine. The realm of faith is thus not a class for numskulls in the sphere of the intellectual, or an asylum for the feeble-minded. Faith constitutes a sphere all by itself, and every misunderstanding of Christianity may at once be recognized by its transforming it into a doctrine, transferring it to the sphere of the intellectual. The maximum of attainment within the sphere of the intellectual, namely, to become completely indifferent as to the reality of the teacher, is in the sphere of faith at the opposite end of the scale. The maximum of attainment within the sphere of faith is to become infinitely interested in the reality of the teacher..."

"Neither the bird in its cage, nor the fish on the shore, nor the invalid on his sickbed, nor the prisoner in the narrowest cell, is so confined as he who is imprisoned in the conception of God; for just as God is omnipresent, so the imprisoning conception is also everywhere and in every moment."

"Humility. What sort of humility? The humility that frankly admits its human lowliness with humble cheerfulness before God, trusting that God knows all this better than man himself."

"Passion and reflection are generally exclusive of one another...even he who is lost through passion has not lost as much as he who lost passion, for the former had the possibility."

"He who with quiet introspection is honest before God and concerned for himself, God saves from being in error, through he be never so simple, him God leads by the suffering of inwardness to the truth. But meddlesomeness and noise are signs of error, and signs of an abnormal condition, like wind in the stomach."

From "Training in Christianity"

"In an impermissible and unlawful way people have become knowing about Christ, for the only permissible way is to be believing."

"By degrees, as this came to be accounted wisdom, all pith and vigor was distilled out of Christianity; the tension of the paradox was relaxed, one became a Christian without noticing it, and without in the least noticing the possibility of offense. One took possession of Christ's doctrine, turned it about and pared it down, while He of course remained surety for its truth, He whose life had such stupendous results in history. All became as simple as thrusting a foot into the stocking. And quite naturally, because in that way Christianity became paganism."

"Talent is to be ranked according to the sensation it produces; Genius according to the opposition it arouses (religious character according to the scandal it gives)."

From "Attack on Christendom"

"'Grace' cannot possibly stretch so far, one thing it must never be used for, it must never be used to suppress or to diminish the requirement; for in that case "grace" would turn Christianity upside down."

"But gradually the human race came to itself and, shrewd as it is, it saw that to do away with Christianity by force was not practicable--'So let us do it by cunning,' they said. 'We are all Christians, and so Christianity is eo ipso abolished.'"

"In the magnificent cathedral the Honorable and Right Reverend, the elect favorite of the fashionable world, appears before an elect company and preaches with emotion upon the text he himself choose: 'God hath chosen the base things of the world, and the things that are despised.' And nobody laughs."

"Wherever there is a cause to be promoted, an undertaking to be carried out, an idea to be introduced--one can always be sure that when he who really is the man for it, the right man, who in a higher sense has and must have command, he who has seriousness and can give to the cause the seriousness it truly has--one can always be sure that when he comes to the spot, he will find there before him a genial company of twaddlers who, under the name of seriousness, lie around and bungle things by wanting to serve the cause, promote the undertaking, introduce the idea; a company of twaddle’s who of course regard the fact that the person in question will not make common cause with them (precisely indicating his seriousness) as a certain proof that he lacks

"Up comes a priest, a priest who jumps up whenever he sees a five-dollar bill. And thereupon the priest celebrates the Holy Communion, from which the tradesman, or rather both tradesmen (both he priest and the business man) return home to their customary way of life, only that one of them (the priest) cannot be said to return home to his customary way of life, for in fact he had never left it, but rather had been functioning as a tradesman."

[About Priests] "Their whole business is based upon living off the fact that others are sacrificed; their Christianity is to receive sacrifices. If it were proposed to them that they themselves should be sacrificed, they would regard it as a strange and unchristian demand, conflicting violently with the wholesome doctrine of the New Testament, which they would prove with such colossal learning that the span of life of no individual man would suffice for studying all this through."

"The fact that one believes can be proved in only one way: by being willing to suffer for one's faith. And the degree of one's faith is proved only by the degree of one's willingness to suffer for one's faith."

"No, the proof that something is truth from the willingness to suffer for it can only be advanced by one who himself is willing to suffer for it. The priest's "proof"- proving the truth of Christianity by the fact that he takes money for it, profits by, lives off of, being steadily promoted, with a family, lives off of the fact that others have suffered--is a self contradiction; Christianly regarded, it is fraud."

"Thou plain man! The Christianity of the New Testament is infinitely high; but observe that it is not high in such a sense that it has to do with the difference between man and man with respect to intellectual capacity, etc. No, it is for all. Everyone, absolutely everyone, if he absolutely wills it, if he will absolutely hate himself, will absolutely put up with everything, suffer everything--then is this infinite height attainable to him."
seriousness! I say, when the right man comes he will find things thus."

Monday, September 29, 2008


I have always wondered at the suffix "-ity" that we attach, or somebody in the past thought to attach, to "Christian". -Ity, as it turns out, is a Latin suffix meaning state of being. Words like "clarity", "captivity", "objectivity", all serve to describe the state of the thing itself; it is clear, it is captive, it is non-subjective. I wonder then what "Christianity" implicitly says if not the state of being as Christ.

Rich Mullins was infamous for responding to the "what is your religion" question with: "I am becoming a Christian". Rich felt that one can hardly claim to have attained Christianity, the state of being as Christ, but could more realistically say that one is pursuing it. In this sense, he was reluctant to suggest being as Christ, but felt it was honest to say he was trying to be.

I wonder if Christian-ism wouldn't be better for what we as Christians intend to describe. After all, our faith is a practice in more than one sense of the word. Not only would -ism imply action behind belief, but it might also suggest that a constant state has not been achieved, and instead we are practicing, training, to become more like that state. Christianism is only one of many options, but it seems to be a bit more humble about its announcement of one's religious alignment, and more congruous with other religions, or faith practices. Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Shintoism, ad infinitum.

I suppose in one sense we shouldn't like to be so similarly named with the other world religions, but I wonder at how we feel the suffix -ity really helps us define ourselves in a respectful and yet different way. Are we so bold to say that we are celebrants of our state of being like Christ? Shouldn't we at least say, as Rich did, that we are becoming Christians? Discussions about things like this seem little more than semantics, but I think if Postmodernism has taught us anything it is the relevance of language, and the inherent idea behind the words we use.

What word would each of us use to best describe our faith? Does Christianity sum it up for you, or would something else better define you? We tend to add adjectives before the word Christian as our faith evolves, so much so that we are at the point where there are books full of denominational names and what not. Emergent/Catholic/Pentecostal/Baptist/Methodist/
Episcopalian/ad-nasuem. All these words precede "Christian" so as to modify the state of being like Christ, and include some theological distinctive. But I wonder if this is exactly the problem with our thinking, we are announcing our achievement, our new quality, our new nature or ideas.

Perhaps it isn't the modifying adjective that needs to change, but the noun it describes. It isn't that we need to change the numerator or denominators of the fraction, it's that we need to discard the thing itself, and recognize that it isn't so simply stated as math and numbers. We need to stop ourselves from referring to our relationship as the achievement of a new nature, though that is part of what we believe, and instead refer to our journey of faith as exactly that.

Modern Christianity taught us that what was important was the end, that the achievement of a state was where the winner's circle was. But I think Postmodern Christianism will teach us what Jesus and Paul did, that our faith is a race, a walk, a path, a way, a journey =).

Saturday, August 23, 2008


"As apologetics is changing--as we move from a modern, familiar environment to a new, less familiar one--our apologetic also needs to change. Modernity constrained us to operate in a rationalistic framework-- that is, based on reason alone--and our apologetic accordingly focused on logic, evidence, proof, answers, scholarship, reasons, arguments, and appeals to authority. As we move into the emerging culture, however, our apologetic will focus more and more on beauty, goodness, experience, questions, mystery, community, and humility. " -Brian McLaren (Adventures in Missing the Point, pg 101)

Apologetics has evolved, and in this new age, it needs to adapt to translate Christ to the new culture. Consider how it has changed to accommodate the needs of past times:
  • In the first few centuries of Christianity, the apologists gave a defense by explaining to their Roman Persecutors the doctrines of their religion, and dispelling the rumors of what Christianity supposedly practiced (orgies, cannibalism, and anti-patriotism).
  • As power shifted and the Roman Empire crumbled, it became important for apologists to convince the Germanic invaders that Christianity was a help to government, and a transcendental (and not merely Roman) ideology. It also became important to defend doctrine and orthodoxy from heresy, here apologetics was uniquely theological and less philosophical.
  • In the medieval era St. Anselm provides the Ontological argument, which will later be revised by Rene Descarte. The priority for apologists is to explain why God must philosophically exist, and explanation is focused inward as the apologists urge readers to consider the nature of their existence, and of their very ability to think at all.
  • As philosophy gives way to science, the modern era apologists must argue for demonstrable evidence and empirical proof that God exists and that Christianity is true. The enlightenment ignites an exhaustive search for absolute truth, and Christian apologists must compete with a variety of -isms in the market place of ideas to contend for true Reality.
So we see that as the culture and ideas change, so too the apologists adapt their method and their goal. First apologists seek to describe Christianity accurately, then to contend for it philosophically, and finally try to prove it unequivocally. But what comes now? What comes in the Postmodern age? Enter "Apomogetics".
Its a re-write on the shortened "pomo" for postmodernism, interplayed with apologetics to create a hybrid, and yes I just coined the term. Apomogetics doesn't exist as of yet, but I'm realizing daily that it should, must, and will. Today modern apologists attack the philosophy of postmodernism on the grounds that it dissolves their absolute truths of science and mathematical certainty, but they fail to see the need to translate our defense of Christ into the new social era. Postmodernism is not a philosophy up for debate, it is a new wave of culture that is sweeping the world, and America is one of the last stops left on the tour.

The question then is what does apologetics look like in the postmodern world? How do Christians prepare themselves to provide an answer for the faith within them? What are culture's questions? Today less and less care whether or not the resurrection checks out by the dates of Pauls letters, or whether God can be proven by the Kalam Cosmological argument. In this emerging world ideas cannot only be true, they must also be meaningful.

So it becomes the apologists duty to wade into the new waters and build us the vessel to reach the distant isles of non-Christian civilization. To pioneer new methods and new visions for how Christianity can re-fit its most important defenses to meet the thinking of a different people. To prepare ourselves for the battles ahead, and not to lag behind in denial of the times we find ourselves in. As culture shifts, a changing of the guard draws near, and so apologists must consider how they adapt to meet postmoderns on their ground.

Recognizing this, I want to assemble interested Christians to prepare for the new challenge. Not to defend ourselves against postmodernism, as current apologists glibly do, but to prepare our apologetics for the new era in human thought and culture. No longer are people interested in the objective certainty of information, nor the Christian "world-view". Because objectivity has been clothed in shame, and all "world-views" are seen as co-equal and impossibly self sanctified. Therefore instead of the apologists who cry "we have Truth!" from the academy's ivory tower, the thinkers of apomogetics may instead cry "we know Truth, and his name is Jesus" from the local pub. Seeing Jesus as Truth incarnate, instead of a person who exists inside of Truth.

must begin to make a home in the terra-nova of postmodernism, not continue in the pointless trend of trying to deny its currency. The body of Christ can survive the postmodern scalpel, and will perhaps even be the better for it. Maybe postmodernism removes the tumors that came with modern hyper-confidence, and the idolatry of human attainment of absolute truth. Maybe the church will find sand in its enlightenment foundation after it has been deconstructed. Whatever the case, the water is turning to wine, and new skins must be made ready to receive it.

Having made my case, I would like to invite anybody interested in this thought project, whether they consider them self an apologist, a postmodern, or neither, to join the group I'm creating to discuss and dream for the future. Please pass this post along through your various networks, so that even if none of this interests you, others may catch the vision and share in the effort.