The Church Emergent in a Post-al Age
Lecture presented in Seminari Theology Malaysia (STM)
5 March 2007
The following are my notes:
Brian shows a picture of a hurricane damaged Honduras. There was a bridge in the centre of the picture but on both sides of the bridge, the roads have been washed away. The river instead of flowing under the bridge is now flowing on the right bank of the bridge. Brian uses this to illustrate a unpredictable, rapid changing world.
Ideas in the world are always undergoing evolution and revolution.
1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Always means be prepared to answer questions at all times. Questions asked in 1977 are different from questions in 2007. Often those at the grass root ministries have to give answers. The scholars tend to be slower with their answers.
Brian then shared a timeline
*Prehistoric world (2500 BC)- invention of writing changed the world. (A revolution.)
*Development of the ancient world (Sumerian, Egypt, etc)
*500AD, Roman Empire destroyed. Church came to power and replaced it. (A revolution.)
*Development of the medieval world.
*1500AD, development of the printing press. (A revolution.)
*Development of the modern world.
Marshall MacLuhan said that any new development entails loss of something old. Each revolution means we lose something old.
The splitting of the Eastern Orthodox Church means we lost the depth of prayer. The splitting from the Roman Catholic Church means we lose some of their tradition. The Reformation suffers from what they have lost from the Orthodox and Roman traditions.
We live in three worlds:
The themes of Postmodernity
We have to distinguish between genuine Christianity and our (individual and various culture-encoded) versions of it.
We need to see truth and goodness where they exist in postmodernism
We need to magnify the importance of faith
We ought to be more fair
We need to be more experiential
We need to address the postmoderns’ existential predicament.
We need to listen to the postmoderns’ stories
We need to tell our stories
We need to address issues we have never even thought about before
We need to avoid coercion and pressure
We need to see the postmoderns in here, out there, and everywhere
We must rely more than ever on art, music, literature, and drama to communicate our message
We must believe that the Holy Spirit is out there at work already
We must be seekers again
We must reassess the value of community and rekindle the experience of it
(The Church on the Other Side)
Part Two: Postal Theology
What is theology?
A systematic outline of truth, in the form of proposition, extracted from the biblical text through techniques to create a timeless biblical worldview.
What is theology?
An ongoing creative enterprise of making models of the universe based on beliefs about God.
The theology of model making.
Emerging theologies aim to be…
1. coherent (hanging together, making sense when the many parts are integrated)
2. contextual (sensitive to its cultural and historical situation)
3. conversational (never attempting to be the last word and silence other voices, but rather inviting ongoing dialogue in the search for truth)
4. comprehensive (relating to all of life)
5. global (ending western hegemony)
Some examples are:
Euro-American theology- Truth vs Emotion (based on philosophy; Plato, Aristotle, Rome, Auschwitz)
Latin American theology- Justice vs Injustice (based on liberation theology; Adam Smith, Karl Marx)
African theology- Truth and reconciliation (reconciling theology; interacting with tribal anthologies and colonial past)
Asian theology- Pluralism vs Relativism (theology among diversity; interact with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous religions)
Also eco-theology, feminist theology, etc.
This is what many of us who attended the Friends in Conversation: A Quite Revolution of Hope conference is looking for: for Brian to articulate and explain his theology and the rationale of his way of doing church. It is my hope that our Malaysian conversation will examine his theology of model making and his emerging theologies.