There are a lot of people who will tell you that marriage is on a pretty unstable foundation in our culture. Often it’s said from an anti-same-sex-union agenda, but it’s also been said in appeals for monogamy and the sanctity of marriage. Rather than dig up some statistic to make a point, it seems easier to simply acknowledge that marriage is not widely regarded with the assumed longevity that it once was. And that, I think, is the sentiment that was behind Andrew Jones’ comment that Tony Jones’ call to stop performing marriages was unorthodox and threatening to marriages.
I’m a week behind in the series now, but I hope to catch up. I really do have good intentions. Anyway, last week in the Missional Prelude series, the gang was talking about how God is at work outside of the church. As is the pattern, Ed Stetzer opened things up on Monday with the question: “How and Why is God at Work Outside the Church?” He then started namedropping, opening with “J.C. Hoekendijk,” who some may remember has been discussed in a prior series. Ed writes, “For Hoekendijk, the concept of shalom (a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare) was a more all-inclusive notion than salvation…. Salvation was broadened and, in some ways, redefined.”
Ed Stetzer suggests that we can avoid the trouble that shipwrecked the missio dei movement in part “by going back and looking at the roots of the missional movement and having a robust theological discussion that heightens our awareness of the issues at hand.”
To this end, our synchro-series turns its attention first to the intersection of missiology and soteriology. One might expect this relationship to be “a given,” but perhaps for just this reason it bears a slightly closer inspection. In his intro-post on Monday, Ed notes that “some consider the transmission of salvation as a physical process” (sacramentalist) while “[o]thers think that salvation is transferred by moral action[, where] salvation is not so much something to be acquired by some individual or organization and conveyed to others, as it is something created by shifting the state of affairs.” Thirdly, he writes, “Evangelical theologies have generally represented a third idea: salvation is a work of grace, accomplished by Christ, and received by faith alone. In the meritorious sense, the recipient is passive.”
A few things crossed my path this week, in the wake of Copenhagen perhaps, where I was embarrassed by the title of “Colossal Fossil” that was bestowed upon my country. And then a friend of mine said he “got grumpy” and made up his own Christmas greeting card, which I thought was worth sharing.
Then there was this video about climate change, “The Big Ask”.
One of the things about the way I’ve been reading blogs lately is that I often get summaries after-the-fact and reactions from others on various topics and happenings, which offers me a shortcut to catching the drift of some notable posts. And sometimes in this exchange I feel perhaps I’ve missed something important. Often I let it just slip by, but then there are times when I find my feet just instinctively digging into the sand adjacent to home plate as my eye fixes itself on the ball. This time it’s internal bickering among some who insist that any bickering on these points could not be classified as internal, because It’s fun to exclude others.
Yesterday I posted an overview of the Didache to introduce what it is and where it came from, but essentially it’s an early Christian document from around the same time that the New Testament itself was still being written. “Didache” means “teaching”, and the document provides a compilation of (probably) oral tradition about what the apostles taught concerning community life. Today I’m blogging on Chapter 6 of Tony Jones‘ newest book, The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. The Didache is not a long document, but it is instructive for the fact that it deals with practical community matters during a time of liminality when the church was just coming to birth. We ought to imagine that it will offer us insight for a time when the church is undergoing a rebirth.
Philotheos Bryennios was born in March of 1833 at Constantinople. He was educated at the Theological School in Chalce of the Great Church of Christ and the universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Munich, and in 1861 became professor of ecclesiastical history, exegesis, and other studies at Chalce. He was appointed master and director at Chalce in 1863, though he soon resigned these two positions. In 1867 he was called to Constantinople to be the head of the “Great School of the Nation” in the Phanar, or Greek quarter of Constantinople. He remained there until 1875 when he was sent by the Most Holy Synod of metropolitans and patriarchs to the Old Catholic conference at Bonn, where he receved a patriarchal letter announcing his appointment as metropolitan of Serrae in Macedonia. In 1877 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Nicodemia, and in 1880 went to Bucharest on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchal and other independent churches to participate in a commission dealing with Greek monastaries that had been plundered in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1882, at the instance of the Holy Synod of Metropolitans in Constantinople and the patriarch Joachim Il., he wrote a reply (published by the Holy Synod) to the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII concerning the Slavic apostles Cyrillus and Methodius. The man was no theological slouch, and despite this list of accomplishments, none of these are the thing for which he is most remembered following his death in 1914 or 1918.
This past weekend was the The Great Emergence one-day seminar in Winnipeg with Phyllis Tickle, sponsored by FaithForum (and others). Clearly, the event centered around Ms. Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. A few of us (Jamie Howison, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lesley Harrison, and yours truly) were invited to participate in a panel discussion and present a workshop, leaving two plenary sessions for Ms. Tickle, the last of which included a good Q&A session.
Friday evening before the event, the organizers — Christine Longhurst, Kara Mandryk, and Michael Boyce — invited us to join them with Phyllis Tickle for dinner, and we landed in a little Laotian place well-recommended by Jamie Howison. We found Ms. Tickle to be warm, witty, and approachable, which was reinforced during her plenary sessions, in which she was not only intelligent and widely conversant with her topic, but also downright funny at times. And she’s got a delightful accent.