Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peter Rollins on the Emerging Church

All I can say is WOW! This video is an amazing combination of a brilliant young theologian and a brilliant interviewer. She was able to really draw out Rollins for the average listener. Kudos to her.

The discussion is in regard to the emerging church movement, and Peter Rollins' involvement.

Favorite quote of Rollins' is still, "I don't believe Christians are called to believe in the Resurrection. I believe they are called to live it."

I also liked his reversal of Christian development and its comparison to that of an person. Born into family. Grow into behavior. Develop thoughts, which grow against the family....Then, the thoughts become mature and incorporate the new thoughts into the family's beliefs.

This is by far and away the best theological interview I've seen.


Todd said...

Let me start by saying I absolutely love his accent. =)

Moving on - help me out, maybe I'm missing something, but I'm more confused than blown away by a long shot, maybe you can help me understand.

First off I recall a while ago having a conversation with you about the differences between Emergent and Emerging churches. Your post says Emerging but the video and interview is all about the Emergent church and obviously links to the EmergentVillage site. My understanding from you at the time was that the Emergent church was deeply flawed and unfortunately named considering the good work being attempted through the Emerging Church.

My understanding (admittedly a limited understanding) of the Emergent church is that they largely reject the idea of Truth, and embrace reletivism and everything that comes with Post-Modernism. If I'm way off base please correct me.

With that said I went into the video skeptically, but 2 things stood out to me. The first was his avoidance of the question of whether or not he felt a person needed to accept Christ as their Savoir for salvation. The second was, what is "engaging in one another"? He talked about those monthly meeting where people engage in theater and try to leave their beliefs at the door to engage with others. How do you engage with people who are pretending not to be themselves in any meaningful way. Help me follow what he is talking about.

So I heard a completely backwards theology, that places the emphasis on feeling and experiencing and emptying your mind instead of emphasising Truth, Logic and the Word of God. He sounds more worried about being a beautiful person than following Christ. By his logic though each person could choose what a beautiful person is like since there is no reference point. That is the definition of relativisim.

Mark said...

Lots of stuff to respond to...

There is a difference between Emergent and emerging. Emergent is a movement of left-leaning Evangelicals within the emerging movement.

The emerging church is the church interested in doing church differently both in theology and praxis. Usually this means from an exit from the philosophical framework of Modernity, which most of the western church is mired in.

Emergent Village is the offical Emergent network, and they have a website. I subscribe to this website because it is "the" happening place in regard to both Emergent and emerging church discussions...See most emerging church folk don't break fellowship because of disagreement of opinion.

I wouldn't describe all of Emergent as you did...and definitely not the emerging church. What Emergent and emerging are clearly NOT is Modern. I.e. They don't need metanarratives. They don't begin with "The Truth" as an abstract logical formation; rather, Truth, as defined biblically, is Jesus.

He did answer the question. You may not have liked his answer, but he did: And that is: "You have to figure that one out yourself." Which, I think is a great answer...but if you read his books and listen closely, you can see that he believes this strongly.

Why is that a great answer? If I tell you the answer to the question you have three choices: #1 Blindly agree. #2 Blindly disagree. #3 Wrestle with it. As a pastor, I'm so unbelievably saddened by the number of people who believe something because I or someone on a radio said it.

His answer leaves the person with no choice but to actually engage God and wrestle with the issue, which is the best possible answer. This is a very post-Modern/experiential way of doing theology...and it works WAY better than the Modern "This is God. This is God's love. Any questions?"

I totally agree with you about the engaging while disengaging self; however, I've read some other stuff on this, and he's actually going VERY philosophical here. I'm not sure we're engaged with the entire conversation he's addressing. I think what he's saying is: Leave hangups at the door. Engage as a human...not as a Rep., American, male, etc. But, I agree, this part was iffy and needed more fleshing out.

And I would agree: His main concern is that we become a beautiful person; however, I would disagree that this excludes following Jesus. He would say (and I would agree) that a person who is seeking meaning in their life has a better chance of finding God and Jesus through participating in the Kingdom of God (ie - service and acts of love and righteousness) than reading a book or hearing a pastor speak.

Remember, the Bible defines Truth as Jesus. Logic and wisdom are both lifted up AND put down within the Biblical text...It's Modernity that has pushed logic and reason as supreme...even so far as to define Truth differently from the Bible! Besides, is God really logical? Not IMHO!

And no, if you listen, he is asking people to engage the family of God (the church has incredible power, authority, and posseses the Truth) in order to begin acting like the Family of God (prayer, reading Scripture, doing acts of kindness, etc...this is engaging in family behavior...i.e. submitting to the family's behavior patterns...i.e. submitting to the head of the family, Jesus), which all leads to belief and conviction (which only truly comes after experience and wrestling).

So, in the end, I believe that part of his theology to be quite appropriate!

In the end, I would add that I believe we can come in the doors either of the 3 ways...through belief (mind), through actions (hands), through relationships (heart). In the end, faith is all three working together...

One point of clarification, Rollins does NOT advocate emptying one's mind...actually, he is trying to get everyone to engage their mind in new and provocative ways.

No offense, but I think many of your hangups are rooted in the very foundations of Modernism, which many Evangelicals share...

The church has lived and moved through many different philosophical mindsets, of which Modernism is but one...What the Church must consistently do is be able to make the cultural, philosophical shifts while retaining her message...what is difficult in the transition periods is figuring out what is "Modern" and what is "Message."

To be specific, logic and reason are in Modernity supreme trump cards...however, in the Bible, they are but tools, that can be very flawed.

What has endured throughout time is that a relationship with Jesus, which is experienced and felt, is the real trump card of faith.