weaving my theological web

part of being Post-foundational is a move away from thinking in “foundation stones” – building block that become unmovable or unquestionable over time – and moving to more a “web” of meaning or interpretation. The advantage of the web-mentality  is that it is flexible and you can adjust one part of it without the entire project crumbling into ruins.

I like this switch a lot.   Of course, no system or structure comes without it’s complications, glitches, and obstacles.

A web is not a liquid existence. It still needs to be anchored somewhere. It has to be connected to something.

I am fond of saying that I want to be innovative, but in a way that honors the original idea and provides continuity with the tradition. This desire means that I am not floating from thing to thing as if I was un-anchored. We are all, at some level, tied to both the original vision and to the modern manifestation. The first asks for accountability and the second one calls for integrity.

navigating between the original vision and the historic progression is demanding. It takes time, a little bit of research, and a whole lot of grace. In fact, I see why some people don’t want to do it. It would be easier to either A) be conservative and just set the foundation stones in place and then never need to move them or ask the original questions again or B) be destructive and/or pragmatic and just do what works now without consideration for the road that brought us here.

I have noticed a pattern lately in my conversations. There seem to be four ideas or movements that I use to anchor my web of meaning / interpretation to.  I ran this by a couple of friends and it has led to some really interesting conversations.

I am a post-conservative, emergent, progressive with charismatic leanings. – this allows me to be in conversation with process thought as well as interact with post-modern thinkers. More

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The table of the Lord: eating together

In the gospel story the Last Supper is the calm before the storm.

If we were filming it as block-buster movie, the Last Supper is where we transition from the wide-screen shots  to a narrow focus – from  fast cut action sequences of arguing with Pharisees to slower calmer exchanges with the devoted and the trusted.

There is a narrowing, a focusing, that happens at this point in the story. It gets tighter, it gets smaller, it gets quieter, it gets more focused. Everything draws in – the story takes a breath. More

Islam and the Fringe

Last weekend the LA Times had a review of Miroslav Volf’s upcoming book  on Christian and Muslim theological concerns. It is well worth your 5 minutes to read. Volf is a renowned Christian thinker and is supremely well respected in my circles. For him to be addressing this topic is noteworthy in itself – regardless of what he says about it. But when one hears what he says about it… it is truly noteworthy.

For Miroslav Volf, an Episcopalian professor of theology at Yale’s Divinity School, (the name of God)  is a direct route over the “chasm of misunderstanding” and hatred that has separated Christians and Muslims for centuries… In his thought-provoking new book, “Allah: A Christian Response,” Volf attempts to explain how the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are, essentially, one and the same.

Here are three things, from a uniquely Christian perspective, that I would like to see addressed:

  • The name of god – Is Allah the same as Jehovah and is that the one Jesus called “Abba”?
  • If so – are these 3 legitimate covenants with the same God? (1 with Issac, 1 with Ismael and 1 with Yeshua)
  • Can we figure out how to stop A) converting each other and B) killing each other More

hearing God’s voice

I believe that we can know God’s will. I believe that God speaks. I believe that we can hear from God.

That has not changed. What has changed is how I picture that and thus participate in it.

I used to teach a weekend class called “a Map and a Compass”  that focused on reading the Bible and hearing the voice of God’s spirit. It got great feedback, bore lots of fruit, and gave our congregation(s) a common language with which to engage in dialogue and mutual learning.

I don’t know how much of it I would change if I taught it these days but I definitely would add something major to it. It is more that a word picture or a metaphor – it is an actual understanding that I was lacking More

End of the (gullible) World!

The minute the earthquake in Japan happened, I told several friends that two things were coming: 1) talk of the end of the world  2) talk of God punishing Japan

But I was not prepared for was the quality of the sample that was to come. This article details the prophetic take of Cindy Jacobs [it opens in a new window] .  She is an authoritative leader in Intercession Prayer circles and someone that I am very familiar with and had even quoted during my college years (the mid- 90s).

“In the early nineties, the Lord gave me a prophecy for Japan that it was a “sickle in the hand of the Lord” that will be used for great harvest. The physical geography of the islands look like a curved sickle with the handle being the island of Hokkaido in the north. One could also say that it looks like a curved sword. Where Japan has historically been a sword of war across Asia.” More

the C.S. Lewis Bible

I referenced C.S. Lewis earlier this week. I am always surprised by how much people like C.S. Lewis.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that I own and have read almost every book that is out. When I was an evangelical youth pastor, he was my go-to voice for apologetics and devotional material.

I bought the “Year with C.S. Lewis” the week it came out (ironically, at the Borders bookstore that had just opened in my town). I took a year off reading the Bible for morning devotions (I needed a break) and spent my quite times with his thought of the day. I have bought a dozen copies over the years as gifts for friends that I thought might like it.

So I just found out that they have released a C.S. Lewis annotated version of the Bible. More

the Tao of C.S. Lewis

I was sitting in Comparative Theology class listening to a presentation on Taoism and something really struck me. It was a quote.

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.  (Tao Te Ching, chapter 1)

Now, I am not under the impression that all religions teach the same thing and I am not interested in downplaying real and substantial differences.  But there is an aspect to our Christian tradition called the apophatic tradition that is important if often neglected – and it ties in here.
I had never heard of the apophatic way (Via Negativa) before seminary. I was raised with and trained for ministry in the cataphatic tradition. It was all positive, presence, blessing. In fact, if those ‘good‘ things are absent, I was taught to ask “what is wrong”. More

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