I know, it’s overdue. Long overdue. This blog seems to have disintegrated into one of those that has an irregular stream of posts saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted more, but I will soon, I promise.” But I don’t believe in those posts – and maybe I don’t really believe in apologies for not blogging. Sorry to disappoint you. ;^)
Being engaged in a few other books lately, I loaned my copy of Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity to my friend Grant, who is familiar with Frank’s other work. Grant has furnished a bit of a review, which I’ve edited only lightly to present here.
Now and again there comes an issue in this old E/MC blogosphere that begs for comment from those of us with egos ample enough to imagine that everyone else cares what we think about it. Sorry I’ve been a bit remiss on the point, but I’m finally getting around to comment on Michael (iMonk) Spencer’s prognosis for Evangelicalism. Of course I’m not alone in offering a response, but naturally I imagine you want to know what I think. First, I must offer some explanation for the sake of my readers who read no other blog but mine so that I can fill in the back story.
One of the books that’s been in my to-review pile for a while has been Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity. Following my review of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices and interview with Frank, this book apparently fills in some of th missing pieces of the discussion. In fact, Frank tells me it’s the more important of the two. I haven’t had the time to get through the book yet, so I thought I’d re-publish Leonard Sweet’s review in the meantime.
Earlier today, my wife mused aloud, wondering what those “prophetic types” are saying about Barack Obama being elected in the USA. I thought Grace choking on her scone in response to an appalling snippet of conversation concerning the rise to power of Barack Obama, “almost exactly like the Left Behind books.” No wonder she choked on her scone. I mentioned this “end times” idea to my wife as a suggestion of what these prophetic types might be saying. She made a mental note to ask a friend who tends to get told these things by people who thinks she cares. At least, that’s how my wife put it. So a few hours ago, Frank Viola tweeted a link that brought this whole question up again. Now by the way, Frank’s blog post today not only offered his view on the recent presidential election, he also named who he considers the top six Christian bloggers around, including yours truly. I’m not sure if I’m actually that good or if Frank’s a little deranged, but I figure it’s best not to press to far, just in case I don’t like the answer.
- Grace: “Hype: Myth-telling that manipulates herd mentality that desperately needs a metanarrative to indulge its gross egocentrism.”
- Bono: “It’s extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.” … “‘Bankruptcy is a serious business and we all know people who have lost their jobs,’” Bono said, referring to the bankruptcy declared by Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. ‘But this is moral bankruptcy.’”
- Julian, the last Roman Emperor: “Nothing has contributed to the progress of the superstition of these Christians as their charity to strangers, the impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor but for ours as well.” — Tim Keller: “The early Christians were promiscuous with their charity.”
- Sara Savage and Eolene Boyd-Macmillan, from The Human Face of the Church: A Social Psychology and Pastoral Theology Resource for Pioneer and Traditional Ministry: “”…The sociologist Max Weber observed a cyclical process among religious movements that he called ‘the routinization of charisma’. Weber argued that any great vision requires a human process to carry it through time, sometimes in the form of ‘a man, a mission, a movement, or a monument’. Even with the Body of Christ, the life-giving charism has to be embodied in a routine – in some form of human organization. Yet, life-giving visions do not fit easily into neat boxes. So, the very process that gives the vision continuing life also begins to kill it. When the maintenance of the institution (which protects the charism) becomes the institution’s primary purpose, the death of the charism is on the horizon. Only a spiritual revival or reform will re-ignite the gift. In our era, fresh expressions of church and the re-traditioning of familiar forms of church march alongside many initiatives to re-ignite the gift…”
- Len Sweet: “So far… rather than reach back into 2000 years of Church history, Emergent stopped at the ‘liberal turn’ wherein the Gospel became all social and no gospel.” and “The emerging church has become another form of social gospel. And the problem with every social gospel is that it becomes all social and no gospel. All social justice and no social gospel. It is embarrassing that evangelicals have discovered and embraced liberation theology after it destroyed the main line, old line, side line, off line, flat line church.”
- Len Sweet (via Jordon Cooper): “…musing about how I am SO tired of the church viewing the world more as a market than as a mission.”
- via Frank Viola:
“The real trouble is not in fact that the Church is too rich, but that it has become heavily institutionalized, with a crushing investment in maintenance. It has the characteristics of the dinosaur and the battleship. It is saddled with a plant and programme beyond its means, so that it is absorbed in problems of supply and preoccupied with survival. The inertia of the machine is such that the financial allocations, the legalities, the channels of organization, the attitudes of mind, are all set in the direction of continuing and enhancing the status quo. If one wants to pursue a course which cuts across these channels, then most of one’s energies are exhausted before one ever reaches the enemy lines.”
– John A.T. Robinson
There’s a spoof of an ad for Pagan Christianity that’s been going around that’s really quite funny, so I decided to display it here. But seriously, I wanted to pick up the subject again for a bit of an update. Of course, I did a series on the book a while back, consisting of five posts in the book review and another three in an interview with Frank. (Where there’s actually still a bit of discussion going on.)
Today we wrap up “Pagan Week” which was held over from last week for the extended conversation I’ve been having with Frank Viola, talking about Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices and many of the subjects it raises. This all follows my own review of the book which ran all of last week. If you’re just tuning in you might want to catch up on part one and part two of the interview; if you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that we’re all sitting around a table in your favorite independent local coffee shop, and have just poured coffee refills as we talked about discerning whether a practice’s origins were good, bad, neutral, or redeemable. As before, Frank and I will converse for a bit an then you’ll get your comments in — as this is the wrapup, feel free to bring up anything we’ve hit in the conversation or in my review so far… I can’t drink too many of those carmel lattes in one sitting, but I’m always happy to hang around and pour another cup of medium roast fair trade coffee. So, back to the conversation.
Last week’s “Pagan Week” has been held over in view of the extended conversation I’ve been having with Frank Viola, which began yesterday, talking about the book and the reactions to it, both the fair and unfair critiques plus the positive reactions. This all follows my own review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices ran all of last week. If you’re just tuning in you might want to catch up on part one of the interview; if you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that we’re all sitting around a table in your favorite independent local coffee shop, and have just poured coffee refills. As yesterday, Frank and I will converse for a bit an then you’ll get your comments in. Have another biscotti; try the chocolate-covered one, they’re delicious — perfect with coffee.
“Pagan Week” has been held over in view of the extended conversation I’ve had with Frank Viola, which turned out not to be a brief one-post interview after all. We got into some pretty big questions, which help frame a deeper understanding of his latest book on which he collaborated with George Barna. My review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices ran all of last week, during which I voiced a number of concerns with the book and pointed out some strong points. In the end, the biggest caveat with the book is that it’s overly prone to being misunderstood, but can be recommended as a good discussion-starter: just don’t mistake it for an attempt to provide comprehensive answers on each subject it addresses. In no small part, this conclusion fueled my desire to have a conversation with Frank around the book itself. As we did with my Interview with Paul Young (Author of The Shack), the conversation was conducted via email, and I’ve stitched it together in this format. As I said before, just imagine we’re all sitting around a table in your favorite independent local coffee shop. Frank and I converse for a bit, but you’ll get your comments in edgewise a little further on — for now, grab that latte you ordered, pull up an extra chair and pass the biscotti.
“Pagan Week” carries on — this week I’m working through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. If you’ve been following along, I know that you’ll be expecting to be reading an interview with Frank Viola in this space today, but I’m changing things up just a bit — Pagan Week is going to be held over. The conversation I had with Frank was excellent, and he provided a lot of material in his responses… good stuff, clarifying stuff. I didn’t want to cut anything, so the conversation will be split over a couple of posts… and it didn’t seem right to have a whole weekend between parts one and two, so the conversation will be posted starting Monday. In the meantime, we’re going to look today at three parts of the book I hadn’t planned on covering because they’re not part of the book. But in a sense, they are.
“Pagan Week” continues — this week I’m working through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. If you want to see what you missed, you can catch up with the prolegomena followed by and yesterday’s installment, Pagan Christianity III: Pastors, Tithes, & Sacraments. Today we wrap up the direct interaction with the book as we deal with Christian Education, the New Testament, & Pagan Conclusions.
9. Christian Education (Chapter Ten) & Reapproaching the New Testament (Chapter Eleven). In a section on the youth pastor, the origin of the term “teenager” is given as the 1940s and credited for creating a distinct youth subculture.