the shape of the church

April 13, 2008

today has been a day of afternoon coffee, quick trips to the local market, dinner with junior highers, and hanging with an old friend at a burger joint.  it’s also been a day of rapid heartbeats, tired eyes, a persistent cough, and first contact with what my immediate future may hold.  a good day overall, but one that won’t leave me completely comfortable.

i ran across this article on open source theology (see sidebar).  for some reason it keeps running around in circles in my head.  Andrew P touches on all the issues i care about–church, scripture, poverty, community, change–but i am unsure whether i agree with how he draws the connections.  the source of this ambivalence lies in an earlier post, we have to go back, but not to square one.  what is at stake is not the evangelical commands of poverty, chastity, and obedience; rather it is the relationship of our following of Jesus to Jesus’ first disciples’ following.

shane claiborne’s irresistible revolution, the jumping off point for the article, proposes a radical, prophetic shape to our following Christ.  it looks like dropping out of the system and trying to live out the kingdom here and now, a premonition of the way things are going to be in the end.  without ever discounting claiborne’s model, andrew p suggests that it cannot function the longterm shape of the church.  the church is not always prophetic to this degree, not always negatively defined by the status quo death-money-power institution.  he offers a vision of the church more shaped by the resurrection new life revealed at Easter than by Jesus’ confrontation with power.  the two models are not mutually exclusive, for both contain a prophetic and eschatological witness.  but there is enough space between the two to provoke some serious thought.

read the two articles, check out shane’s book (if you haven’t already), and let me know your thoughts.

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drinking coffee again

April 9, 2008

for the past few days i’ve been sick–that cold, that ache in the body, that dizziness whenever i stood up, and that insatiable desire to lay on the couch and play with my itunes. because i was sick, i haven’t allowed myself to drink any coffee, only tea. but i’m feeling better today, so i broke out the coffee, just for me.

while i’m sipping this stale coffee (it tends to sit in its canister on the counter for a month or two because cindy and i don’t want to become addicts; we relish but do not depend on it), i’m musing about the church, filing out seminary applications for next semester.

i think the crucial questions facing christians today is, what will the church look like? the explosion of novel approaches in the last two or three decades (seeker-sensitive mega churches, emergent congregations with their candles burning, their novel liturgies, and theoretical ramparts, the neo-monastic collectives hanging out with poor people and spending a lot of time together, to name a few) alongside the vehement, occasionally vein-pulsing arguments and polemics filling both pulpits and even academic journals–these attest to the weight of this question.

but, in truth, it’s a much more heavy questions than that. because the church, the way we follow Jesus together, is essentially bound up with what it means to follow Jesus at all. and this is what should give us pause; this is what should make us think.

how, in the everyday logistical details, do we follow Jesus together?