Tag Archives: feral pastor

Bill Easum and Tony Jones Participate In A Blogologue About The Emerging Church – The Commenters Are The Icing On The Cake!

 
 

There is a great conversation taking place over at Emergent Village between Bill Easum, Tony Jones and various commenters.

The conversation is centered around questions/issues Bill Easum has raised with emergents.

The posts from Bill Easum, one of the most highly respected Christian futurists in North America, and Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village, is delicious enough; but the icing on this cake are the commenters and they turn out to be the real treat – or maybe I should say the real “meat” of the discussion.

If you cannot bring yourself to take the time to read all of the comments make sure that you don’t miss those from Tim Thompson of Feral Pastor and Jonathan Brink of Missio Dei.

I love the way Tim engages in the conversation regarding truth, knowledge and certainty. He lovingly and passionately puts to rest the myth that emergents don’t believe in truth. This isn’t the first time that Tim has said something that I wanted to say but didn’t know how.

In addition, I was so pleased to be introduced to Jonathan Brink through this blogologue – his answers to Bill’s questions are well thought out, deep and yet, clear; and his explanation of what emergent means to him is inspirational, informative and motivating. I will definitely visit his blog, Missio Dei, again.

Before I close this post with some excerpts from Tim and Jonathan, I want to say that although Bill Easum asked some of the same old questions regarding emergent he did not respond negatively or argumentatively to the commenters. He seemed to listen sincerely, disagree respectfully and consistently notice points of agreement…winning my respect and attention, and being a good example for Christianity.

Jonathan begins his comment with an explanation of what emergent means to him:

“Bill asked a series of questions for the Emergents. And I thought I would respond to these questions. But before I begin I would like to respond to what I mean by Emergent and what this word means to me. I take it very seriously and have suffered the consequences for the baggage that it holds, most of which I find to be myth. And let me be clear that this is my definition.

Emergent, to me, is a creative attempt to find a wholistic understanding and practice in what it means to follow Jesus into God’s mission. It is an attempt to get at the heart of what it means to be a broken human in a broken world that is dying for restoration.”

Tim responds to Bill’s question: Is the message of the Gospel actual reality and eternally true, or is it nothing more than a construct of our own language within the community of faith at this particular time in history in this particular place with this particular community?

 “The Gospel is an actual reality that is eternally true – and – our ability to understand it and communicate it is always an imperfect, conditioned, contextual approximation. It’s an approximation because both thinking and speaking rely on language, which is a “jar of clay” in which the treasure can actually be found. Put another Pauline way, not only do we see through a glass dimly, but we also think and speak through smeary lenses as well.”

It’s good – go check it out.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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And That’s The Truth

As you probably know, a lot of the criticism (mostly handed out by evangelicals) of the emergent/emerging movement/conversation/community centers around the subjects of “inerrancy of scripture’ and “truth”.  It wasn’t too long ago that Chuck Colson commented about “the emergent community that rejects the bible” – which, I believe, was his way of saying that if you don’t interpret the bible the way he does, then you are rejecting it.  I find it hard to believe he has actually been in contact with an emergent community that rejects the bible – at least not one that calls itself “Christian”.  See the complete comment here. 

 

 

  The problem is that many, if not most, Christians from my generation believe they (or their pastor or their favorite theologian) have completely and rightly interpreted all scripture and pretty much figured everything out about God to boot.  If we have questions or doubts about their interpretation then we are making up our own religion, or distorting the truth or as Chuck puts it: “rejecting the bible”. 

 

   I can’t say that I don’t understand someone being in that place  – what I don’t understand is that someone could continue to stay in that place when so many from the movement have spoken out to explain that they are not trying to make up some sort of feel good theology but that they are truly grappling with the search for truth and find it hard to believe that anyone has completely figured it all out. 

 

 

 

 I say all of that because I want to share something that I read recently over at Up/Rooted.  It was actually a comment to a comment.  You can read the whole thread here.  This is what I found so thought provoking:

 

 

 

I’m a scientist by training so I’m very, very comfortable with the Modern, scientific way of thinking about “truth” as being related to facts, information, verifiability and so on. So it’s completely jarring to hear Jesus say that he is truth, because “truth” is not something you can be. You can know truth, discover truth, share, record, express, discuss, debate and even be mistaken about truth. You can also be true but you can’t be truth.

So, in making that claim, Jesus shatters the category of “truth” in applying it to himself. It’s not just that it’s hard to understand what he means (we all agree there’s plenty of that), it’s that the statement is formally nonsensicalif – you are using the Modern/scientific categories for understanding the word “truth.”   

That, to me, is where Jesus himself forces me to go outside the arena of factuality and accuracy (and inerrancy) in how I am going to deal with him and relate to him and, I pray, trust in him and obey him. These are, I believe, the things that matter most. When Jesus says “I am the truth” it compels me to move out of the Modern/scientific (and Greek/philosophical) arena and back into the Hebraic realm, where it has never been about facts and Ideas but love, life, and above all relationship as the “category of ultimate concern” if you will. 

But when he says that, it also opens the door for me intellectually to all of the discussion I am finding so lively among the Emergents on issues of language, culture and so on. Truthfully, I’d have to say it actually compels me to go through that door so that I will be more cautious about interpreting scripture, since so much hinges on the categories and definitions I bring to the table, knowingly or unknowingly. 

Let me go one step further. When the word “truth” is used in the Modern/scientific sense, then the word “know” also has a particular sense which corresponds to a cognitive condition. Scientific “knowing” is about having access to actual facts in your mind. But in the Hebraic sense, “to know” is also often used in a relational way. So we get the classic “Adam knew Eve his wife…” in Genesis 4:1. This means that there is at least an interpretive option in how we understand what it means to “know.” 

This profoundly shifts the sense for interpreting a foundational verse such as John 8:31 “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” In a Modern/scientific frame, that translates into something like “You shall actually have access in your mind to the correct information, and that correct information will set you free.” But in a more Hebraic frame of meaning, and following what I think is the sense in John 14, it comes out more like this: “You shall be united in a relationship with me, and I will set you free.” 

For me then, these explorations into the discussion of Truth and so on have resulted in an even more powerful shove towards focusing on my relationship with Jesus. And rather than make me less interested in investing time into reading and studying scripture, it has made that more important as I want to hear what my forbears have to tell me about living a life with God in the way of Jesus. 

 Well, that’s what’s been on my mind. If it’s of any use to others, then thank God for that!
 Blessings –
 Tim

 

Wow!  That is very useful to me!  Does this resonate with anyone else out there?