I've been a quiet observer of PXnty, while also being engaged in a cool
start-up ministry of a local, Episcopal Parish. I first heard Brian
McClaren speak while attending an annual youth pastors conference--and sort
of witnessed the birthing of the EC. This was 1999 in San Diego. What
struck me then was the role liturgy and ritual were playing in this new
reformation, and the interesting awareness that these were 2nd and 3rd
generation evangelicals learning to light candles, honor silence, accept
ambiguity, while still being passionate--and expecting some kick-ass music
and big screen visuals. Today, these folk still inspire me. The next step
for reformation is for those of us with life-long commitments to mainline
life to let go of our traditions, our rituals, even our pensions, and
realize that every age and expression needs reform. This is all really
hard--and amazingly interesting. Check in with Rob Bell--and see the s***
he takes. Look up Eugene Cho. Unbelievable pastor--who also has founded a
global movement fighting extreme poverty. What these guys have--and what I
wish for--is the freedom that comes when you let go of trying to defend
whatever "orthodoxy" you have inherited. That freedom is worth pursuing.
Thanks for your email last week. Because of a busy travel schedule and a huge response from our readers on the last eBulletin I have spent the last week just trying to catch up. We really hit some kind of nerve or generated some kind of excitement (depending on the reader) with this publication. Our reader response was nearly 3 times the highest we have ever received in the last five years.
Thanks for the tip on Rob Bell and Cho. I did look them up and I find it very interesting and seems to reflect one of the challenges I believe that EC movement must someday face. I noted that in Bell's website that there was no mention of substitutionary salvation or even that Jesus was God. I only read the first page of the church’s website and one of his articles, but clearly that is not the agenda for the church or for him. Cho on the other hand is still sticking with the basic story, albeit spoken with some new metaphors and illustrations. From Cho’s blog:
" God has descended. God has come to us. God, through his Son, Jesus, has moved into our neighborhood and into our hearts. Jesus who was fully God – yet chose to become fully human and in great love, chooses obedience – even unto death – so that we might be reconciled."
I think that same split may be one of the major challenges of the EC movement and it will be interesting to watch. I have been doing that more since the Phoenix event. After several conversations with some of the attendees and after following up on some of their blogs, it is not clear to me that they see themselves as part of one group. The divide seems to foster (or fester) around: 1. the belief that Jesus was God, died for our sins as part of God’s design or 2. Jesus was a prophetic teacher (with degrees of uniqueness) who was teaching us by words and example how to experience the Kingdom of God here on earth, in our lives. Or as one person put it to experience salvation (to be made whole) in the present.
It appears to me the Brian McLaren and of course Borg have moved to the second story and there were still plenty in the room (tent) who were hanging on to the first story. Can they all be part of one movement? Can they live happily in one “tent?” How much will these former evangelicals let go or can they agree to disagree and just live happily ever after? It appears to me to be a rebirth of the Arius/Athanasius battle even though most of the attendees would have no idea what that means since few of them were schooled in graduate seminaries, not that this means anything.
I would like to chat with people like Rob Bell about this. I don’t want to debate or get into theological B.S. I just want to know how he looks at this or if it is important. How big is the tent and would I, for example be included.
I know you must be frustrated as are many clergy across the country tied to their denominations, their health care, pensions and church buildings. Episcopalians have a particularly difficult situations with Bishops who vary from wide open to ultra traditional. It is clear to me that the institutional/corporate model is collapsing, however. I just hope my meager UCC pension will last for a couple more decades.
Thanks for writing. I hope to hear back from you.