Monday, January 15, 2007

The Church In Emerging Culture

Sweet, Leonard (ed.) 2003, The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Grand Rapids, Zondervan)

As the title suggested, this is a book about five different perspectives as viewed by five different people on the Church in emerging culture. These five contributors are Andy Crouch (editor of Regeneration Quarterly, author and a “specialist on spirituality and campus life”), Michael Holton (editor of Modern Reformation and associate professor of apologetics and historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California), Frederica Mathewes-Green (author, from episcopalism who became an Orthodox), Brian McLaren and Erwin Raphael McManus (self proclaimed “cultural revolutionary” which lead a tribe of “spiritual warrior” called mosaic, centered in Los Angeles). Leonard Sweet is the editor of this interesting mix of people.

The book is set forth as a conversation. Each contributor was given a chapter but in the chapter, comments from other contributors were printed so within the limitations of a printed book, a sort of conversation was going on.
Leonard Sweet gave a good introduction to the book in which he laid the background for the discussion- how should the Church respond in a post modern world. He started with H. Richard Niebuhr’s book, Christ and Culture (1951) which was described as one of the most influential book of the twentieth century. Niebuhr delineates five areas in which the Church respond to culture: “Christ against culture; Christ of (or within culture; Christ above culture; Christ transforming culture and Christ and culture in paradox.” Leonard felt that while it was true when the book was written more than 50 years ago, it may be time to review Niebuhr’s concepts of Christ and culture which were based on modernism.

He suggested that we move beyond Niebuhr to another area where we can examine the post modern church response to change in the message/context/substance and in method/form/style. To this there are four possibilities (low change in method, high change in message; low change in method, low change in message, high change method, low change in message and high change in method, high change in message). Leonard gave an excellent metaphor in describing these areas by likening it in agricultural terms: glen (low change in method, high change in message); garden (low change in method, low change in message), park (high change method, low change in message) and meadow (high change in method, high change in message).

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Blogger Sivin Kit said...

while sometimes the there's a feeling of interruption here and there with the format of the book and yet it tries hard to model how the conversations really happened with the authors (and in some ways really happen in REAL life) :-)

the pdf file of the "friends in conversation event 2007" can be downloaded here

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church...

8:25 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...


I enjoyed the feel of a conversation going on while reading the book and a gentleness of spirit in the conversation.

Thank you for the pdf file


Thank you for the URL. Will listen to the mp3

10:44 AM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Check out Allelon Radio for some goodies which I think you will appreciate. Todd Hunter was my coach for at least a year. I find him worth listening to. And of course there are others

1:22 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

thanks for the radio station

10:34 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

there's a wonderful phrase in M.Green's write-up, something about defining radical as, "standing outside an abortion clinic in a very uncool cardigan - praying."

that kinda writing just stops me in my tracks. so aggressively God-like yet hardly 'aggressive' in the world the way understands.

good book.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

i agree, alwyn.

what Eugene Peterson would call subversive spirituality.

11:15 PM  

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