Scot McKnight’s wife Kris refers to his latest book, The Blue Parakeet, as “one of his readable ones.” The book is, in fact, one of his most readable, which is most fortunate given the importance of the subject matter. Although Scot McKnight is something of an avid birder, the book’s title is really only a metaphor, not a literal description of the subject at hand. For that, the books subtitle, “Rethinking How You Read the Bible” sums it up. And if you notice that the image of the book cover glows just a little, it’s no accident — the book deserves a glowing review.
After reading Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, I started into Ed Cyzewski’s Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. Both books speak of an approach to scripture that attempts to bridge the gap between the culture in which the culture in which each book of the Bible was written and that of today into which it still speaks. As I reflected today on the nature of scripture an how it interacts with itself, I remembered the view of one Rabbi. The Hebrew Bible (what we refer to as the Old Testament) is divided into three parts — the Law (Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Jewish view is basically that the prophets and writings act as commentary on the Law (the Pentateuch), explaining how to understand it.
I recently finished Scot McKnight’s latest release, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. I have a habit of noticing ideas and examples that may be tangental to the author’s point but which I still make a point of applying in a slightly different context — as I did yesterday. And here comes another one, on authority.
Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this post, which ended up being about as long as the next bit that contained the important stuff I wanted to say, so I split it up. Feel free to start yesterday, then continue on below, which is about the whole mess of misunderstanding over networks that are not called Emergent.
Perhaps I’ve said my share already as I’ve seen the comments that others have been making about the shift — for some — away from using emerging/emergent terminology. Having had a couple of my posts picked up and linked around, I thought I’d be done, but it turns out I’m not — even if it turns out I’m saying more than my fair share. I’ve been pondering the bigger picture of it though, and late last week something clicked as I began to see the whole matter from a different angle, and I’ve decided there’s an alternate interpretation to be applied. This post, I think, is my most important observation of the discussion, and one which I hope time will prove to be accurate. And as I’ve said before, language is important to me, even if others tire of the talk of words. Eventually I do as well though, so hopefully this week will wrap up all that I feel I need to say about this battle of words. And anyway, I’ll point out that it’s not about words anyway, nor is it about people de-friend-ing one another.
It’s gone so far now that we’re blogging about how we’re tired of talking about the topic we’re blogging about. Again. Oh, don’t worry — I’m no better. So here we go again, but this time it’s Scot McKnight posting on the latest bruhaha with some new info, or new perspective on old info. I bring this up not because we need to say it once again that there’s discussion about the continued use of the term “Emergent,” or for that matter, “emerging.”
Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible will be out soon, and reviews are beginning to appear online. I haven’t seen a copy, but the reviews are all good and it promises to be a good resource. Obviously the way in which one approaches the Bible will colour what we exegete from it, but the exegesis can be effected by how we understand that the Bible views itself.
“In recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel’s proper name,” said a June letter from the Vatican. “As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: Adonai, which means ‘Lord.’” In August, U.S. bishops were directed to remove Yahweh from songs and prayers.
My little Emerge-ed? piece really seemed to strike a cord with some people, and maybe hit a nerve with others. As I’ve thought about this over the last little bit, I decided that an addendum might be in order.
Even Brian McLaren is clarifying statements about him having “moved past” Emergent, (Tony Jones goes defensive over different issues with the article, getting a response from Marcia Ford) but I did like what Brian said:
You have to read that title with a Mike Meyers beat poet voice like in So I Married an Axe Murderer (a true classic, directed by Thomas Schlamme of West Wing fame). I don’t know if we’re all “emerge-ed” now — I doubt it — but it looks like we’re dropping the name. Some of this appears to be distancing from Emergent™ and some looks to be simply distancing from labels that are confusing and misleading to some. Often people get a certain idea of what the term “emerging church” means, and the idea has a lot read into it that shouldn’t be there. No doubt some of the reading-in is caused by the poisoning of the waters by some critics who essentially critique a caricature rather than an accurate portrait of the emerging church itself. In some cases, I gather the caricature becomes so pervasive that some distancing from the term itself needs to take place. I hate when this happens with the really good terms.
Or is that an oxymoron? At first blush, one would think that a systematic theology is such a modern construct that it would never fly as a postmodern emerging concept. On the other hand, what is a systematic theology but a collection of positions on the full complement of theological subjects? With all the “conversation” flying left and right, all that’s left is to gather it up, cross-reference it, and call it systematic, right? Or is it only about ecclesiology anyway? This post is a resurrected draft from August 2007, and if anything I think there’s a trend that has become more solid in the year since I jotted down my first early thoughts. While the emerging church was initially taken up with ecclesiology and philosophical questions concerning post-modernism, these topics have branched out, rippling through other areas of theology. Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian and its two sequels began to delve into various areas of theology as we followed Dan and Neo through a conversational reconsideration of a variety of accepted conclusions to theological questions… not just ecclesiology. (And it still strikes me as strange that McLaren was maligned the worst when he got to the doctrine of hell, of all things… as though Christians would reconsider anything except the surety of the eternal torment of others. But anyway.)
Almost inadvertently, I began a series examining the posts from the recent missional synchroblog in which I participated with a total of 50 bloggers (plus a few unofficial entries). Recalling my the missional series from last summer, I’m determined to wrap this one up in fewer words. In any event, we dive into the next batch of submissions for consideration.
Mark Petersen begins with a story, then explains why it is missional, which he defines in ten points: