Monday, March 28, 2011

A New Kind of Christianity - Part 3

In the third chapter of A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McClaren tells the story of the pilgrims. Right before they left on the Mayflower for America their pastor prayed for them for their new journey. In many ways, Brian says, we are headed out on a journey to a new world in the church. He suggests this as a prayer for us: "Lord, we acknowledge that we have made a mess of what Jesus started. We affirm that we are wrong and Jesus is right. We choose not to defend what we have doen and what we have become. We understan that many good Christians will not want to participate in our quest, and we welcome their charitable critque. We acknowledge that we have created many Christianities up to this point, and they call for reassessment and, in many cases, repentance. We choose to seek a better path into the future than the one we have been on. We desire to be born again as disciples for Jesus Christ. Now grant us wisdom and guide us in our quest, and create something new and beautiful in and among us for the good of all creation and to your glory, Living God." I like the prayer - but it also got me thinking - part of the journey to a new world - both by the pilgrims and by later emigrants - like those moving to the American west - is the decision about what to take with you and what to leave behind. Usually you can't take very much with you. So that raises for me the question - what should the church take with us into the new world and what should we leave behind?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A New Kind of Christianity Week 2

The second chapter of A New Kind of Christianity talks about shifts in paradigms - that is in the way that we see the world and the way we interact with it. For example - when it was discovered that the earth was not the center of the solar system - but only one of many planets that all orbitied the sun - the paradigms shifted.

As we have moved into the shifting paradigms of the modern world Brian McLaren sees 10 qeustions recurring - his thesis is that we need to seek responses - as opposed to answers - to these questions:

1. What is the overarching story line of the Bible?
2. How should the Bible be understood?
3. Is God violent?
4. Who is Jesus and why is he important?
5. What is the gospel?
6. What do we do about the church?
7. Can we find a way to address human sexality without fighting about it?
8. Can we find a better way of viewing the future?
9. How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions?
10. How can we translate our quest into action?

So, what do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A New Kind of Christianity - Part 1

During Lent, St. Paul's is discussing Brian McLaren's book A New Kind Of Christianity. Each week I will post synopsis of the chapter we are looking at and I invite comments and discussion.

This week we are looking at Chapter 1.

This chapter is about setting the context for the conversation - there are several things that jump out.

The first is a set of statistics - In America today 40% of the population attends church regularly (once a month or more). However of those listed as "converts" or new members by churches 90% of them are already churched. So those who are joining churches are moving from one church to another - they aren't coming from the 60% who don't attend church regularly.

We are moving into a world where the paradigms are: Pluralism, Relativism, Globalism, Uncertainty and we need a new way of believing to respond to it.

Some other thinkers have identified similar thing

Phyllis Tickle in her book The Great Emergence suggests that every 500 years or so the Christian church holds a "rummage sale" and gets rid of some old stuff and reinvents itself for a new age.
At 500 it was the collapse of the Roman Empire and the move of the church into the role of administrator of Europe
At 1000 it was the Great Schism and the split between the Eastern and Western Churches
At 1500 it was the Reformation that led to the birth of Protestantism
And now it is happening again

Harvey Cox in his book, Future of Faith suggests that there are two previous ages in church:
The Age of Faith until about 300 which was characterized by diversity, energy, vitality, suffering, persecution, courage and rapid growth
The Age of Belief was from about 300 to about now - which was marked by the Christianization of the empire and the imperialization of Christianity. During this time Christianity became the dominant belife in the western world - in many ways to its own detriment
The Age of the Spirit - which we are entering into now - is trying to preseve the previous age and embrace new challenges.

What do you think?