Thursday, September 04, 2008


1) Is Presbyteriansim really just grade b Anglicanism?

2) I often find myself appreciating conservative positions more than conservative persons. Did anyone see how bad the Hawaii governor's speech was? can we spell stilted or stiff?

3) Many Republicans don't seem to believe in corporate sin. Hello. We are our brother's comments about collectivism/big gov't please.

4) Many Democrats don't seem to believe in origianl sin. Talking nice to everone won't eradicate the tainted Adamic blood coarsing through their veins.

5) "Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it's got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn't, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be." — Tom Brady

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
- C.S. Lewis

Maybe I should become an NFL chaplain so I could tell these guys about that other world.

6) Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Anglican Book of Common Prayer

Is Presbyterianism really just grade b Anglicanism?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

___ I'm testing the...

___ I'm testing the coolest technology I think I've ever encounted. You guys have to try this. It's called, and I'm right speaking into my phone and should be or if you're reading this it's been delivered on the web. It's great, try it. listen

Powered by Jott

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

mutual defenestration means self-annihilation

Boy, do I like this guy. I'm so glad to be in the same denomination with him.

"A minority of voices ask whether we in the Presbyterian Church of America (my denomination) ought to look more closely at whether our preaching adequately reflects the corporate nature of the apostle Paul's vision — they suggest even that our view of the unity of the covenant implies that perhaps it's worth considering whether our children belong with us at the Table (as Hebrew children did at Passover).

The answer: a study paper (passed — I note with chagrin — overwhelmingly) not on the biblical merits of the positions considered, but on whether they pass confessional standards (as interpreted by a tendentiously and carelessly written paper). When the point of the positions was never whether the standards were wrong, but whether more needed to be said than the standards say.

Suggest that we might do a better job representing Paul's view that the Body and Bride are elect as a whole, and get accused of denying that Paul teaches individual election.

Suggest that more could be said about the way Jew and Gentile oneness in the gospel demonstrates the righteousness of God than the Westminster Standards say, and get accused of denying justification by faith.

Suggest that all parties ought to be a part of this conversation, and receive a fluffy, but smugly cute repartee about the folly of inviting the accused to join the jury — have the derisiveness compounded by a disingenuous faux-rebuke of the "righteous applause" with which the vacuous remark is sycophantically met.

Battle as relentlessly and courageously as the Church of England's N.T. Wright does to champion the view that Paul's theology is animated by a comprehensive and integrated story of promise and fulfillment — scoring points against both the postmodern deconstruction of the biblical meta-narrative and the dispensational fracturing of the singular story of "the Israel of God" into dichotomous stories of "Israel" versus the "church" — and what do you get from your potential allies in the conservative reformed world? How about getting dismissed as importing an alien biblical theology into the established categories of systematic theology, as being vague about the atonement, and as compromising biblical authority? While we build careers at our potential friends' expense, the hostile armies and navies amass. Nice work.

Write courageously, as does Duke University's Richard Hays, into a most liberal Methodist environment about Paul's seeing in homosexuality the red light on the cultural dashboard, champion Paul's theological method as building upon Old Testament themes and texts and Jesus' ministry as being the embodiment of Israel's story, and get accused of Nestorianism because you believe that complementary to Paul's teaching that we are to believe "into Jesus" we are also supposed to have a faith that was like that of the incarnate Jesus? Puhleeze!"

(HT: Reggie Kidd)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Provoking our Collective Community Imagination II

The prophets were more than purveyors of public doom and gloom. They sought to stir and rehabilitate the communal imagination of the people by painting pictures of gospel saturated community (i.e. times when lions and lambs would lie together and when corporate life together would be characterized by true gospel shalom). Provoking their collective community imagination was a key part in the prophetic program. Their imagination was the way in which they were to make connections between their visible social plight and the invisible possibilities for a renewed situation.

However, visionary awareness of group life is not enough. ‘Insight is not change’ is what a good counselor might say to a counselee who has rightly seen the way forward through a current issue. The new insight must lead to concrete fruits of change and renewal. So, it is with us. It is not enough to be stirred with a fresh vision of the necessity of small group life. The path to isolated individualism is paved with thoughts and desires for authentic rewarding community life. Inspiring insight into how one-anothering should look, quite simply, is not change. Having perceived the need, movement from a state of autonomy to participation in community must happen. Money magazine in surveying the principal reasons for the termination of fortune 500 ceo’s, cited lack of implementation/execution as the number one reason these high-powered execs were fired. These are intelligent, high capacity women and men full of inspiring ideas and visions for what the company could be and where it could go. Yet, they stumbled, not infrequently, at insuring that those fertile visions were translated into on-the-ground corporate realities.

The simple challenge is to step out courageously in faith and join a fellowship group. The call is to pursue a little safe place where you can know and be known by others, care and be cared for. In the context of a big church like Redeemer, this level of participation in the life of the church happens in small groups. They are perhaps the most high impact way that we live fruitfully and spiritually beneficially with one another.

Quite frankly, it is just plain fun to meet new people and to connect with fellow urbanites around things as diverse as Bible discussion and Brubeck, community service and Coltrane. Fellowship groups hold forth the prospect of enjoying God’s world with his people even as both are renewed and transformed in the process.

Many have experienced the surprises that gather at the intersection of an invigorated community imagination and humble risk-taking initiative to go join and or lead a fellowship group. Consider some of the experience of Bethany Jenkins, a fellowship group leader: “I talked with another friend who was already in a Redeemer group. Although neither of us had ever led a group before, we decided to try it out and knew, at least, we had one member - my roommate. We told a few people about the group, those people told their friends, and a month later, we had 15 people and were over capacity. Within a year, we separated into four groups to accommodate more people. Again, friends told friends and very shortly all four of those groups were full and had to turn people away.”

Now, this is not an attempt at crass triumphalism. Still less does it suggest that all groups have or will experience(d) such numerical quantitative ‘success’. It is one example of what can happen when faith risks for kingdom community purposes, when people desiring to realize the dream of genuine one-anothering, put feet on those desires and get involved. By her own admission Bethany admits that her testimony is “……nothing spectacular. I saw a need, I talked with a friend about it, and we took a risk……God loves it when we take risks that seek to love His people by meeting their needs.”

In the economy of the gospel, we are called to be more than an admirer of the idea of authentic community. We are called to be followers, followers of the Way, living out of the life of the One who is the Way and laid down His life so that we could find our own, even as we lay down our own lives for others, making room for them, and participating in new life together with them.

If you’ve had your imagination converted to see the call to real life together, then live into that renewed reality and join and/or lead a fellowship group.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Provoking our Collective Community Imagination I

“Hey, we have a fellowship group that meets tonight……and would love it if you could join us”. It was with those words (or something close to it) I entered the world of Redeemer fellowship groups nine years ago. Though I was a believer, I was deeply discouraged by Christian community. Today, I participate in overseeing hundreds of groups here at Redeemer as a director of fellowship groups. That small encounter with a fellowship group leader served a very big purpose in my present vocational life.

Why have I become so heavily involved in fellowship groups? I could give a thick theological answer that includes talk of calling, providence, divine sovereignty, and the like, and that response would be correct. But the straight forward facts-on-the-ground answer is quite simply – someone asked me to visit their group. An unpretentiously courageous group leader extended an invitation to an unfamiliar newcomer.

To my surprise, joining that fellowship group, challenged and provoked my imagination about Christian community in fresh, exciting, and encouraging ways. That group experience was formative in helping me to think about (and experience) what small group community can be and also served as a helpful reminder of the prophetic wisdom of not ‘despising small things’.

So, how might others in Redeemer come to participate in a fellowship group and experience robust renewal in gospel community? What could substantially increase church wide participation in small groups thus transforming our big city? One way is to issue cattle calls to join and/or lead a group. This is a helpful and needful thing and usually works to a degree. One of the things that scripture does is convert our community imagination and then challenge us to live into that renewed vision.

Community imagination

Catching a vision of what can be is always deeply inspiring and motivating. When a person is provoked to imagine new possibilities, to see beyond present material circumstances, he/she will move confidently in the direction of seeing that new horizon realized. This is true regarding the dynamics of Christian community formation. When a believer catches a glimpse of what transforming community looks like, gets a taste of thick rich community life, they will seek more of it (and often invite others to do the same). We see this kind of vision casting and provocation to community imagination in the Biblical prophets in particular.

The OT prophets are commonly understood as a cranky community of grumpy divine spokesmen. They blow into town and, with bony pointed finger, announce doom and gloom on a community gone wild in sin. They blow in, blow up, and then blow out of town (if they don’t get beat up first!).

There is another (better) way to see what they’re doing. As Walter Brueggeman states, “The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us”.

That is, if Israel found itself in a state of disrepair and surrounded by hostile enemies, the prophets would provoke their collective imagination and expand their visionary awareness by painting pictures of a time when the community (particularly, the big city – Jerusalem) would flourish and its enemies would flock to it (cf. Isaiah 2).

Wherever there were pockets of darkness, the prophets would often inspire repentance by describing images of what an alternative community transformed by the light of the gospel would look like. They would inspire a people experiencing a failure of community imagination, with their words, giving them a window into the world to come.

This is what a fellowship group can do. When those members are together doing community group practices (praise, scripture study, prayer, fellowship, and mission) they are demonstrating and living out a taste of the world to come. An onlooker is getting a fresh little vista into life in the New city. This is attractive. Light, in the midst of darkness always is.

What is needed is people who will dream together with others about what gospel-driven group life can be and then will fund that vision by forming (or hosting) a fellowship group. What is always needed is people who’ve undergone (or are willing to undergo) a conversion of their community imagination and then challenge others to the same as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

love's long resolution

So I watched Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightly) the other night and let it percolate for a few days while I read about half of a critical essay on it, talked briefly with a couple women in the office, all the while doing a cursory comparison with Ang Lee’s rendering of ‘Sense and Sensibility’. After all, its summer, a time for cinematic exploration beyond that permitted by the rest of the year.

Here are just a few discursive thoughts.

I enjoyed it immensely. I find many of the 18th century social conventions, (to say nothing of the British accents), charming and engaging. There is just something about that era that appeals to my moral and social sensibilities in an interesting way. There is no uniform antiquarian delight here - the ‘soft’ caste hierarchy and classism are undesirable - but the defined parameters of social intercourse appeal to me. It seems that folks knew what was expected and how things (like marriage proposals) were to go down. In our own day, not knowing those things and consequently not having a generally well understood way/manner in which relating of all sorts happens, makes things awfully confusing in my opinion. I’m not hankering after the ‘good ‘ol days’. Still less, am I suggesting a social straight jacket be imposed on male/female relating….just think it would be nice to have more common cultural understanding in these matters.

Be that as it may. The aspect of Pride & Prejudice (and all of Austen's stuff) that I most enjoy is the insightful psychological interactions of the characters. The way she opens up human intentions (for all to see) and common ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, just leave me breathless. There are numerous 'ah ha' moments in listening to the exchanges, far too much to digest and process in one hearing (or reading). Darcy and Elizabeth's argument/misunderstanding after the first proposal was a study in the ways people misunderstand each other, a paradigmatic demo of ways in which out of 'pride', we show 'prejudice'. Elizabeth and Jane's discussion about Elizabeth’s initial would-be suitor was brilliant and so eloquently got to the heart of the oftimes abated approach and retreat of a man in the early phases of pursuit. So much of what she says rings so true and is so well put that I'm left in awe. I wish I could reproduce the insightfully precise phraseology of that exchange.

And of course, the way the meta-drama of love plays out drew me in. I was aching for love's long resolution! When Darcy finally called her....named her...had her hand in marriage....called her 'Mrs. Darcy' (not less than three increasingly intense times), a 1000 pound weight fell off of my shoulders. Finally, all was right in the romantic universe. Things were as they should be. And this was just the 2 hr version. I can't imagine the tension of watching the 6 hr BBC production. 'Hope deferred makes the heart sick' undoubtedly must take on new meaning.

Admittedly, I go about life with abstract notions of romantic love most of the time but when I watch something like p&p, enter into the sympathetic motions of heart vicariously with the characters (the initial rebuff of Darcy was oh so painful), I feel, hope, and long more than ever for what he eventually obtained - love. Isn't that the heart of the universe? Isn't love the way the world is made right ultimately (Richard Hays’ ‘moral vision’ notwithstanding)? "God so loved the world', 'Christ loved the church….'. This is a reality beautiful beyond belief!

In some ways, I found p&p more hopeful than s&s. Sense’s Colonel Brandon was just so perfect, so patiently persevering, so self-giving that it actually had the effect of discouraging me from romantic pursuits. He evinced no proclivities for ‘prejudice’. He showed no ‘pride’. Darcy, on the other hand, while fundamentally honorable, still found love in spite of his 'chinks in the armor'. I loved that. I see and feel the inner logic of gospel redemption in him. He embodies the hope that one must not be perfect to get the great woman in the end.

I wonder if so many of the frustrations, dashed hopes, deferred desires for marriage among so many Christian singles would be beneficially addressed by seeing the noble love embodied in the films of Jane Austen repeatedly. I mean, what would happen if men/women communally sat down and watched these films together over and over and over until they were compelled to walk away and imaginatively inhabit in real life, the relational grace so on display in this drama?

This movie was such a helpful hermeneutical tool in opening the deep structural vision of love in Ephesians 5.

……just some ramblings on p&p

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Sin is crouching at the door" and in the permutation

Today is the first day of Lent ...which is thinking like a good Anglican ....which is thinking like a Catholic ...which is to think of sin(s)...the deadly ones.....and a few of their permutations and extrapolations.