“How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins

“How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins

Peter Rollins is a postmodern pastor, theologian and philosopher born and raised in Northern Ireland. In 2006, he published his first book, “How (Not) to Speak of God,” as an attempt to bring the mystical approach of viewing God into the wider Christian community of the Western Church. The core of this endeavor can be found in the following statement articulating the tension between mystical humanism and religious fundamentalism: “That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking” (page xiv). Drawing heavily on postmodern philosophy and the tradition of medieval mystical thought (especially that of Meister Eckhart), the book itself was directed to those engaged or interested in the “the emerging conversation” (page xvi). Accordingly, Rollins spends the first part of the book providing a theological framework for this view of God before shifting into a more practical outworking of the material. While Rollins’ application of his theoretical framework is interesting, this review is going to focus solely on the theological first part of the book. In the first chapter, Rollins introduces two very important concepts. The first is that each of us unconsciously projects our view of the world on to the Scriptures, affecting the way in which we see and understand God. Once we know this, then we are able to understand the second major concept, that of mystery and concealment. It is this later concept that serves to drive the book forward as Rollins explores how God can both be concealed and revealed at the same time: “revelation embraces concealment at one and the same...
Book Review: “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren

Book Review: “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren

In the late 1990’s, Brian McLaren invited to join the Leadership Network’s Young Leader Network (YLN) lead by Doug Pagitt. Other notable members of the YLN include Mark Driscoll, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and Andrew Jones. One of the main conversations discussed at the YLN was how to share the good news of Jesus with a growing post-modern population. The result was the birth of the emerging church movement in the United States, influenced by similar movements in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. As the movement spread, McLaren quickly became one of the top proponents and speakers, drawing both praise and criticism from across the Christian faith. McLaren’s book “A Generous Orthodoxy” was published in 2004 during the height of the emerging church movement. It was written as a type of confession in which McLaren shares his personal journey through the different movements and groups of Christianity. The books’ subtitle summarizes the theme of the book in that McLaren promotes holding in tension beliefs normally considered in opposition to each other: “Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.” To help hold together the tension of all these various Christians tradition, McLaren suggests approaching things with a “consistent practice of humility, charity, courage, and diligence” (page 34). Humility in that we are to admit that our personal and corporate pasts have been “limited or distorted” (page 34). Charity for those who belief and/or practice a different tradition then ourselves within Christianity. Courage is needed to faithfully walk the path that the Lord Jesus...
Church Planting: An Interview With Ed Stetzer

Church Planting: An Interview With Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer has a long and very impressive resume full of planting, revitalizing and pastoring churches across the USA. He has also taught and mentored tons of pastors over the years as well as spend many a hour researching and surveying in state of the local church. Currently he is the President of LifeWay Research and a member of the International Mission Board’s Church Services Team. Accordingly, his comments on church planting in North America have some weight… as in, they are worth listening too and thinking about. Which is why I recommend reading this article detailing a recent interview with Vineyard USA. To help spur you on in reading the interview, I have posted some quotes from Ed along with some of my thoughts below. Reflections on the Church Planting Scene in North America “I think church planting is exploding. But I think it’s also important to note that the focus of many of these movements, and even the methods that they have used, have been influenced by the gifts that the Vineyard gave us all: a heart for church planting, new network approaches and strategies, and a passion for reaching the lost.” Yeah…I couldn’t pass up quoting this piece as it is nice to see such favorable press for one’s tribe. Granted, Ed is talking to the Vineyard USA so it could be a simple ‘don’t bite the hand that is feeding you’ statement…but I seriously doubt that as Ed, who is not part of the Vineyard, doesn’t have a motivation to suck up to the Vineyard. If he didn’t like us, he could simply say so...
“The Holy Spirit Is NOT for Sale” by J. Lee Grady

“The Holy Spirit Is NOT for Sale” by J. Lee Grady

A few years ago while taking a class on the emerging church, I ran across the identifiers  “post-Pentecostal” and “post-charismatic.” At first I did not fully understand what these terms meant nor while someone would want to use them…but slowly over the years I have come to realize that I myself am a post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic follower of Jesus. The term, contrary to what some may think, are not referring to cecessionist doctrines or theology, nor are they saying that we have move beyond the movement of the Holy Spirit as ushered in by THE Pentecost of Acts 2. Instead the terms post-Pentecostal and post-charismatic pay homage to the mentality of post-modernism in that they refer to a new shift in thinking about Pentecost and the workings of the Holy Spirit. In other words, post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic folks tend to be tried out by all the hype and faddism that seems to follow Pentecostalism and Charismaticism.  We are people who are turned off by the worship of super-star healers, prophets, speakers, and miracle works. It’s not to say that God does not work through those people, ‘cause he can if he wants, it is just that we just not going to listen if all we hear is marketing and hype. Give me simple, humble workers of Jesus who see the lame healed, injustice destroyed, and signs and wonders in both the church building and on the street corners. Those are the folks I want to listen to and read about! An unfortunate consequence of this post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic mentality is that my reading list and study material tended to come from the Evangelical, non-charismatic side...
“A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin” by Tony Jones

“A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin” by Tony Jones

Off and on over the last past few years I have been thinking about the different metaphors used in the Bible to describe why Jesus came to walk among humanity, died, rose again and etc. (the fancy theological word for this is the “atonement”). Interestingly enough I’m not the only person thinking about this issue as modern Jesus followers re-discover of the mystery of the atonement. Folks such as N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, John Piper, Al Mohler and Brian McLaren are all offering their opinions on the subject – not to mention those from the mainline Protestant churches, Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholic Church. A big part of the reason why the atonement is such a big deal today is due to the increasing rift between neo- Calvinists evangelicals (John Piper, Al Mohler et al.) and the progressive evangelicals (N.T. Wright, Roger Olson, et al.). Add to this fire the growth of post-modern and post-post-modern Jesus followers who are looking at Christianity through different glasses/worldviews than their predecessor (Brian McLaren, David Fitch, Scot McKnight, et al.). Knowing all this, I have every excited when I heard that Tony Jones had published an ebook on the atonement, “A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin”. Tony, for those who don’t know, was a driving force in the emerging church movement of the past few decades and the author of the book “The New Christians: Dispatches From The Emergent Frontier”, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  He is also an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School – meaning that he is a post-modern theologian...