Society of Vineyard Scholars: Review

If you have been wondering about my silence, it is because I was enjoying the company of friends at the annual Society of Vineyard Scholars (SVS) conference in Seattle.

In typical Vineyard fashion, the conference was a wonderful blend of “spirit and scholarship” with 46 academic papers and times of worship and prophetic ministry. To show this blend, the Lord gave a local artist at the Vineyard Community Church (Shoreline), who hosted the event, a vision of two waves crashing into each other. This painting (show to the right) was prominently displayed throughout the event at the front of the church as a reminder to everyone present of the need for both spirit and truth.

Another reminder of this blend of spirit and scholarship was James K.A. Smith’s plenary session outlining a “Charismatic Epistemology” (i.e. a spirit led way of understanding knowledge). As a Pentecostal Philosopher, James Smith challenged the SVS scholars to two ways:

  1. To drink deep from the well of the Vineyard – Allow the values and Kingdom Theology of the Vineyard to impact and guide the academic nature of the Society. Don’t just parrot the theology and discussions of everyone else.
  2. Embrace a Narrative Epistemology (i.e. a story focused understanding of knowledge) moved by the Holy Spirit – Don’t allow the intellectual focus of Western enlightenment culture overrule ones embracement of emotions and experiences that God has given humanity.

My first thought when I heard this was, “I’ve been duped! I came to a scholars meeting to escape my emotions only to have God tell me to trust them!”

This concept is a big deal for me as God told me the same thing in October at the Missions Leaders Meeting. Only that time He spoke to me through prayer and weeping… I guess He using the ‘repeat, repeat, repeat’ method of getting a message across. 🙂

Joking aside, this has been a learning experience for me as I recently discovered that I have been inadvertently swashing my emotions in lue of my mind. This caused me to be unbalanced in life as I tend to be a more emotional person who response to the world and God through my feelings.

God’s word to me to “trust my heart” in October and this most recent philosophical message to embrace a narrative epistemology guided by the Spirit marks a radical shift in my life and thinking. No longer must I – or can I – delegate part of who I am to the rubbish bin.

I am a strange story teller who gets crazy excited at the prospect of reading philosophical books like “Thinking in Tongues” or history books like the 1895 “History of the Moravian Church” – not to mention the thrill of seeing eyes opened, the lame walk, hearts repaired and relationships restored. I am both a want-a-be theologian (who has MUCH to learn about academic papers!) and an emotional pastor (who is learning how to follow the Wild Goose).

In short, I am a son of the Kingdom.