Sunday, May 27, 2007
Today my prayer is that we too can live in a way that we receive the Spirit and live our lives as the gathered people that follow and live in the way of Jesus that brings healing and hope to our world.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I am following Jesus Creed (which I usually do) the McKnight's are in Italy. It's enjoyable to follow along and remember our time in Italy. Our trip to Italy was notably in the top 10 favorite all time two weeks of my life.
Tomorrow I am speaking at a church in Seattle. The lead pastor and some of his staff attended the Missional Matrix event we hosted in March. They asked me to give the same talk I gave at Missional Matrix to their congregation. I am looking forward to being with them.
Sunday evening Rich and I are off to Las Vegas with friends. We are celebrating a friend's 50th birthday. We are looking forward to the sun, hanging out and seeing a couple of shows.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
We also looked at the six ways different groups wanted reform at the eve of the Reformation:
1. Reform through evangelsim - conversion is the way to reform society. Today - evangelism should be our priority...evangelical churches
2. Erasmus - Education will bring reform. If people have the correct knowledge that will bring reform to the church and change society. If priests just had a bible - today we would say seminaries.
3. Conciliarists - councils (Trent, Piza...) will bring reform - we need more structure and management - present day - we need a strategic plan and set goals...
4. The government assitance model - Henry VIII and in Spain the Inquisition - today Jerry Falwell, MLK...
5. Anabaptists - we need new churches back to the model of the New Testament church (this was during the time where there were state churches) today, Brethren, Mennonites etc
6. Ignatius Loyola let mission reform the church ...the Jesuits went all over the world...today - para-church orgs and mission societies.
Which is right? All of them...
Luther and Calvin used all six - the point there is not one way to bring reform to the church.
We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing how Christianity lost Africa.
Between 500 and 1300 the church didn’t grow – we gained Europe and lost
Northwest coast of
One fourth of all Christians lived there.
The thesis of some say, Islam destroyed the churches. Ray’s study shows the church self-destructed. Here is his thesis on how:
1. The church in Africa was never indigenous – the Greek controlled the East and
2. With exception of the church in the
3. The seminary in
4. The division between Truth church and Grace church – the devastating split in N Africa – 250-258 Rome celebrated it’s 1000 year anniversary. In this 8 year period the senators in
Novatia was a Roman traveling around and when he heard he said you cannot do that, what about those that have been martyred if we forgive those that lasped what does that say to those that died – the church split between truth churches and grace churches.
The church split in all these different ways so the church self-destructed. The theology got so complicated. When Islam came through. Islam had a 5 law track – basically believe God and obey these 5 things in fact you don’t have to believe it just do it.
The Western church also had reasons for adding the phrase one of which is they were working in tribal cultures that seemed to view Jesus as a super tribal chief rather than God. This is an important concept for us today as we approach mission. In the western church we don't trust the Spirit we trust Christology. We preach Christ to unleash the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox churches believe the Holy Spirit is unbounded - you don't bring Christ to a community, you discover Christ in the community.
Next we looked at Monasticism beginning with the Desert Father's and then up through Francis and Dominic. One interesting point that came up that through half of its history the Roman Catholic Church allowed priests to marry. It wasn't until Benedict that priests became celibate. The cause for this is too long to go into. Today with the decline in the priesthood and with the chruch moving toward a Latin and African world maybe Pope Benedict (who ended limbo last week) will bring reform by allowing priests to marry.
We concluded this session with a lecture and discussion on the crusades.
Today I am going to blog notes as I go so they will be rough.
I will finish yesterday’s notes later this afternoon.
Sunday – Session 1
Open listening to a piece – Holy, Holy, Holy so majestic, transcendent in this setting…
We are sitting in the living rooms in a circle looking out to the side of a mountain listening to a choir singing. It is beautiful.
Please can we learn hymns at VCC? Being in a church history class I really want us at VCC to connect to our past. We are not an island (the 20th – 21st century evangelical Christians) to ourselves there is 2000 years of history to take hold of and to be our guide as we go forward.
Ray has asked
He was not raised in church so he does not have an affection for church culture. He was brought into the church experience as a young adult. His parents are musicians so his affection would be more in music. His heroes in life are James Brown and Ray Charles. He says Jesus invited him into his heart and he said yes. He got involved in an evangelistic culture so he thought you were supposed to get people saved all the time. He also was in a culture that did not value education. As a result he went on and started planting churches. There was no training for church planting. There was also no money. No education. He began painting houses. He has planted several churches…it was on again and off again as a professional Christian. This has complicated his relationship with money. He is now telling how long we have been friends and our history of working together.
In the mid 1990’s we began experimenting with evangelism. Jim stood up and said we are all resigning from evangelism but we are not going to stop telling people about Jesus. We began experimenting. He is an experimenter and a provocateur. Which makes him not a good pastor. He however, loves pastoring leaders.
He resigned the church and went back to painting houses. Churches don’t want to pay you for experimenting. He started an organization Off the Map. Primarily to re-imagine evangelism. The whole game of evangelism became very intriguing to him. This led to all types of experiments. One of which since he couldn’t get people to come to church he began paying people $25.00 to come to church and critiquing him and the church.
Off the Map began doing conferences and Jim wrote a book about Evangelism without Additives. By the way, Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel alone but we don’t know the other’s names. We need to give our teammates credit.
He is now telling the story of the Ebay atheist. Go to here to read the story. He co-founded Off the Map with
Off the Map is a virtual organization. Hemant visited churches and blogs his experience. What made this story provocative is that Jim is not trying to convert him but hiring him to convert Christians. Jim wanted to have Hemant’s church experiences to teach Christians how atheists and non-Christians view Christians.
This story got a lot of publicity. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, lots of radio. Since that time both Jim and Hemant were offered to write a book. Hemant wrote his own book. Jim found a new atheist, Matt Casper to co-author a book with him. Jim and Matt went to ten churches, anonymously and reviewed them.
Jim is talking about one church that stood out –
Out of this comes the book, Jim and Casper Go to Church. You can find the book here.
Jim is doing a disclaimer that he is not an expert on any of this. He had been a pastor for twenty-five years and even though it was not him, he empathizes with pastors. He is particularly interested in ordinary Christians. He likes unmotivated and uninterested people. He is very interested in moving people. How do you get people to change is very intriguing. The book project was just about taking an atheist to church. He didn’t prepare him, he didn’t try to explain church, he just took them. Jim wants to learn more about why people like Jesus but don’t like the church.
He is now talking about how we (Christians) have taken on a meta-narrative of being the world’s moral police. History gives us a perspective on where we are in relation to this large story. So, Jim took
Jim does not know hockey so if he went to a hockey game with someone who knows hockey the person knowing the game would have a different experience than attending with someone knowledgeable about the game. This was Jim’s experience attending churches with Matt. He is giving the story of visiting Joel Osteen’s church – you can read about this in the book.
Jim asked me to give a short summary of what we (VCC) are doing in Shoreline.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote “the church is only the church in so much as it exists for others”
David Bosch quotes “Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion” and that “this new community should not severe itself from the world”
Drucker – something is going on right now that within a few decades a massive reorganization will happen. Usually the church is at the forefront of resistance to the change. There is a lot of discontinuity going on right now. This becomes the work we are involved in and we either see it as an opportunity or an obstacle.
This book has nothing to do with Christianity and Atheism. It is more about modeling how to create a dialogue with people with whom you disagree. Reorienting to see how people see Jesus.
Ray is now telling the story of
Ray models how to be accountable to women in ministry. He is telling the stories of the different women he is the assistant to in the DMin programs that BGU is involved with. This is astonishing because Ray is brilliant but recognizes his limitations and puts women who are gifted into places of leadership and then assists them.
Ray’s 10 questions – model analysis guide
- What’s unique about the context of this ministry?
- What’s the history, where did the vision come from? Vision is a holy discontent with things as they are. Ministry begins with a capacity to see. You look at things as they are and ask why, I dream dreams that never were and ask why not.
- What do they actually do? What’s the program? Where do they actually do what they do, what, where and when.
- How’s it organized? How are they structured? Is it a sustainable model?
- Who’s the audience? Who are they trying to reach?
- How do they pay for it?
- The skills, what is the organization learning that they are trying to teach their staff? What’s the tool kit?
- What’s the theology of this model? Is it a Philippians’ or a Colossians’ model? One hermeneutic clue – pay attention to Jesus. The public Christ and the personal Christ that came unglued in 1920. Modernists coming out of WWI were devastated. Christians killing each other in
Europe. Modernism decided to go into social work. Evangelicals went to the personal Jesus. We are going on 100 years of this separation. The irony and sadness is that in the 1800’s it was the Evangelicals that were doing social work. Like the founders of the CMA – AV Simpson. Salvation in the Slums…Rescue Missions began in the streets of the cities …Niagara conference of 1889…so many movements are in reaction to something else rather than just being innovative…Reformed churches operate top down – creation and redemption theology are their – the holiness tradition you start with the Jesus in me…revivalism and social reform – the holiness movement coming out the 18th century vs the holiness movement of the 16th century were two very different christologies. Calvin tithe pays for church services – tax money pays for public service. So Christians have two kinds of tithes, common grace is a city wall, a hospital, an education system etc…saving grace pays for Christian ministries – for Calvin God owns all the money and you are called to steward it in two buckets – no difference to Calvin – it is an ecological theology…in the holiness of Wesleyan Pentecostal – Jesus in me is the starting point (Neihbor writes about this) a personal conversion.
- The strengths and limits of this model? (not good or bad) is this a bicycle or a 747? There are things a storefront (a bicycle) can do …there are things the large church (747) can do…every model creates space for a different model to be next to it. If you can read a supermarket you can read a community…send students into a supermarket and ask them how the store has changed…how is it the church in the neighborhood doesn’t understand how the community has changed but the supermarket without the Holy Spirit understands the change – the mega church creates the need for boutique churches …exegete your neighborhood in the supermarket
- Take away – what are the transferable concepts or principles for my context?
Saturday, May 19, 2007
We began this morning (after breakfast) with two songs. Corean played the baby grand and we sang an old African American spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” Ray then asked if anyone had questions or reflections on our time yesterday. The first question was how did Ray choose the people for his mission trail. Ray began by talking about Barnabas (his choice for the first century). Ray identifies with Barnabas as Barnabas was a reconciler. This led to a discussion about the difference between Truth churches (churches that insist on right doctrine), churches which are bounded set – you must believe the way we believe to belong, and Grace churches, or churches that operate a bit more centered set. Grace churches are secure in what they believe but that is not the criteria for belonging. Good discussion.
Next, a discussion regarding homosexuality and the church. Ray talked about the difference he sees between advocacy and co-belligerence. He explained that under the U.S. Constitution homosexuality is not illegal therefore he would absolutely advocate for gay rights including civil unions. As a Christian he does not believe this is God’s design (but neither is a child born with a missing limb) so he would not be co-belligerent meaning he is with you on one issue (rights) and will stand with you there. This doesn’t mean he loses his ethic (whether it be heterosexual or homosexual).
Next, we discussed who were the current day Gnostics? This discussion went a way I was not expecting. Gnostics remember wanted nothing to do with the earth, they had special knowledge and everything was about escaping this body and our desires (sounds a bit Buddhist) but the point of Christianity is (Ray speaking) God opens the Scripture with his hands in the mud, creating humanity out of the very dust of the earth, and then closes in Revelation with his hands in the mud creating a new heaven and earth cleaning up all the toxic waste humankind has dumped and right in the middle of the Scripture we actually find God incarnating into a human body – nothing could be farther from Gnosticism than this God of Christianity. The other issue Ray raised was one I need to think about. The early church had such a strong view of the physical resurrection of the body that they would never think of cremation. Today we live in a culture that does not want to deal with the dead. We have so disconnected ourselves from death he feels that cremation becomes a way of staying in denial. Hmmm, I understand what he is saying…I don’t think we as Americans have a very good theology of death, and it is also very, very expensive to bury people. Ray talks about cemetery tours – he sees them as our “great cloud of witnesses” that we should take our children to and teach them about the people that went before us. He raises an interesting perspective on death and dying.
A highlight for me, Ray’s quote. “I no longer pastor a church in a community I am the pastor of a church for a community.”
We then looked at the heresies of the early church. Heresies are exaggerations of the truth. Heresies actually helped the church as it forced the early church to wrestle with truth. Here are the list we covered this afternoon:
Ebionites – They tried to Judaize Jesus – Issue – Was he just Jewish or is he more?
Montanism – Montan is the Holy Spirit – How do we hear the Holy Spirit pre-canon?
Marcion – Old Testament God and New Testament God opposed – Christian anti-Semitism
Arianism – Is Jesus subordinate to God? - Is Jesus similar to or the same as the Father?
Modalism – One God three roles – Is Jesus human?
Adoptionist – God adopted Jesus – Is Jesus God?
Nestorianism – The hypostatic union – How do the two natures of Christ fit together?
Eutichius – The Divine nature is shrunken version of human – One nature – the opposite of Nestorianism.
Our last session before breaking to watch the movie “Luther” was a discussion on the doctrine of Sacred Space. (the bell just rang for dinner will continue later).
Friday, May 18, 2007
First of all I slept on what I guess would be the third floor -- from the second floor we went up these narrow, small steps to a room with two beds built into the wall. I think they were built for the Bakke's grandchildren. I had a good night's sleep. I got up by 7:00 a.m. for coffee, oatmeal and an egg casserole. Visited with a few people and then we began class at 8:00.
Corean Bakke (a trained classical pianist and music master) led us from the baby grand piano in a couple of hymns that she composed and wrote. The house was built with acoustics for Corean's piano and it is beautiful...
Ray began the first lecture with the question, "what is history?" Answer, the written record of the past. He then asked, "who wrote history?" someone in class answered, "the winners". He then asked, “why the title of the course was Global Christian History, the answer because most of what we have been handed has come through a very Western lens. We are living in a time where the marginalized peoples that did not have the scholarship to write history are challenging the perspectives. Example, American Indians and Latin American natives. After an overview and stories of this then the we moved on to why we should study history. So we began the day by getting perspective on history and how it has been recorded.
Next we reviewed
Ray made the comment at the end of this session that Evangelicals think church history began with Luther – they take the attitude anything that came before was Roman Catholic and Orthodox and we don’t need it. Basically a very arrogant view.
We broke for lunch then walked the Mission Trail. Ray has staked out a trail on his property and has a stake in the ground that represents one person from each century of the 2000 years of church history.
We began this trail at the Trinity Tree. A cedar tree with one strong trunk that quickly separates into 3 parallel trunks with their own branches. I will write some of Ray’s thoughts on the doctrine of the trinity.
“Trinity is more than the Christian name of God as Father, Son and Spirit. Our earthly families of mothers, fathers and children mirror the “heavenly family”, and deeply root my idea of the significance of relationships and community. From this biblical idea, I understand that the primary life of God is in working relations that flow into the mission of creation, redemption and reconciliation of all things. Moreover, for me to be a functional Trinitarian Christian means I live simultaneously in three time zones...Because of the Trinity, I see all working roles as equally sacred. While early images and vocabularies limit us, I do see no hierarchy in the members of the divine Trinity, and therefore I understand the Father, Son and Spirit to be equal in what they as God have done in creation, or will do in our salvation. My doctrine of vocational calling anchors here also. I believe that for each of us, be we male, female, clergy or laity, our calling as individuals is equal. And, like the members of the divine Trinity, I believe each of us will also mutually submit one to another as Christians and family members.”
Ray designed the mission trail together with a chapel and grotto to remind him of that “great cloud of witnesses” who have crossed all boundaries of this world, to pass on the good news of the Gospel…We are provided a brief biography of each person representing their particular century. We stopped at each stake in the ground and Ray explained why he chose each person to represent their century. The mission trail took about three hours.
We came back to the house and Corean gave us a talk on the Liturgical colors of the church year (we have just been talking about wanting to change out the colors at VCC to fit with the liturgical season) and with each season she has a desription:
Advent – blue, pink and purple – season of expectation
Christmas – red – season of hope
Epiphany – orange – season of manifestation or time of regognition
Lent – black – season of testing or struggle
Easter – white – Alleluia
Pentecost – red – Holy Spirit
From May to Advent is called Ordinary Time – Corean doesn’t like that description but divides it up into
A sage green – new growth
A mature green – season of empowerment
We finished with a Christmas hymn that Corean composed and then broke for dinner.
Tonight’s movie is – The Kingdom of Heaven – about the crusades. Tomorrow night – Luther. Today was a beautiful day. The clouds have set in and it’s beginning to rain. Our reflection is to think of our own spiritual autobiography…where are our roots back generations in faith and to reflect on the people of the early church period and pick five people we feel connected to and why…
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Introductions were made tonight. There are about 16 of us, both doctoral and masters students. We officially begin tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and 8:00 for our first session.
The women (6 of us) are staying here at the house. The guys are staying offsite in some friend's homes in Acme. Time to sign off.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Rich and I head home this morning. This has been a fantastic time. We had time to hang out together. We spent time catching up with old friends. We also met new friends. I especially had a great time meeting some women face to face that I have been corresponding with over the past few months.
The conference highlights for me:
- Seeing Amy
- Meeting Adey, Ellen, Cindy, Diane and many more…we didn’t have much time together but I can’t wait to see how we will connect and work together in the future
- Lunch with Kevin Rains, Keith & Kathy Seckel and another man from KY (I am so sorry I met so many new people I can't remember your name)
- Hugging Dave Nixon
- Bert’s address: “Kingdom…Spirit…
- Eloise – your prayer and encouragement was unbelievable – the Spirit part of our tradition is something I never want to lose – I had never met Eloise before and at the very end of the evening she prayed the kind of prayer for me that let me know God is very present and knows my heart – wow – she nailed it for me and it was so life giving
- Spending time with David and Doug. A few months ago (during the Missional Matrix) Kelly said “When you Pray Move Your Feet.”
David Ruis’ new album, When Justice Shines will inspire you to do just that. Go here to purchase the album.
One last reflection…why I love the folks that makes up VCC, our faith community. As mentioned in my last post when Rich and I left
Monday, May 07, 2007
With the addition of a graduate program into our lives we are realizing we have to take time to rest. At the end of the month we are going away again for three days for complete fun and relaxation. We are going to Las Vegas with our friends to celebrate his 50th birthday. Looking forward to that...
This year the conference will be interesting - celebrating 25 years as a movement. Looking forward to meeting up with old friends and meeting some new friends I have been interacting with via e-mail. Winn and Donna are also here. It is 85 degrees today!