Scot McKnight is visiting South Africa again. It’s been just over a year since last time he visited. Running a search on “McKnight” on my blog revealed some interesting things on how the emerging church scene changed since then, and Scot’s role in this from my perspective. I gave him an article David Bosch wrote about 25 years ago partly in response to the Lausanne Covenent today, and on it thanked him for the role he plays in keeping different voices together. I really respect the way in which he talks about some of the voices he differs with in private conversations.

Last night he talked with our church council on the Blue Parakeet, and I’m kicking myself for not video-taping it. Afterwards we had dinner together. Today he talked on conversion, and from tomorrow we’ll be discussing acts with him.

I’m not going to try and repeat all that was said, but this is the image that we used in the discussion:

scot mcknight conversion copyConversion is this process of moving from the context where you are to the “church”, the group where are are moving towards. This may be a megachurch or small group meeting somewhere that won’t ever call themselves church. Conversion is changing my story to be told through the lens of this new self understanding I now have, which is formed by this group.

Part of converting is a crisis that is addressed. For years now I’ve been getting more and more uncomfortable with the fact that we have been creating a crisis in our attempts of evangelism. This crisis have usually been by painting a vivid picture of how someone might just burn in hell, or in lighter forms convincing someone of the severity of his/her sins, and this warthful God that really cannot help but punish us, that is of course just. Scot mentioned Brian Mclaren’s moral question: How can a just God punish a lifetime of sins with eternal torment?

But what Scot was actually talking about in the end was how people deconvert from Christianity, how people become non-Christians. What is the crisis moments that lead to this?

In his book Finding Faith Loosing Faith he talks about a number of crisis that leads to deconversion. I’ll order the book sometime, and will mention them more when I get the book, but form today’s talk Scot confirmed one thing: Fundamentalism creates extremely good soil for atheism to flourish in. I’ve been saying this for a long time now. The crisis that fundamentalism creates is that an expectation on infallability of the Bible is created that cannot be met, and the text never intended to meet, when that realisation dawn on someone, it has the potential of leading to atheism.

Of course there are other reasons for deconverstion as well. But I’ll skip them for now. This is a model that I believe I’ll use again, and would love to know more about.

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You know what must be one of the worst things in life to do? Re-typing something! I absolutely hate re-typing! I don’t mind writing, I do that a lot, and actually like doing it. But when I loose something and have to re-do it, that’s really bad. Although usually it ends up being written better. Well, I lost this post. Saves it on a flashdisk, and I think I didn’t stop the flasdisk the last time I used it. First time I loose data this way.

So, Scot McKnight from jesuscreed.org is visiting South Africa. Attie Nel from Attie se Koffietafel got him over for Pentacost. We have a tradition in the Dutch Reformed Church to celebrate Pentacost with a series of church services over throughout the week, Mcknight is leading these in Attie’s congregation, and Attie dis the rest of us the favour of arranging a whole program full of other speaking arrangements for McKnight.

Yesterday morning I attended a lecture McKnight gave on the New Perspective on Paul. Actually it was presented to the fourth year New Testament class, Stephan Joubert’s, from e-kerk, class, but it was opened up so that the rest of us can also attend. There wasn’t a lot of visitors however, but I found it interesting to see how bloggers got together. Attie en McKnight got together, both bloggers. I visited, because of blogging. And Tom Smith also came to visit, although we didn’t talk about it, I guess also thanx to blogging.

I found out that McKnight disagree with the New Perspective, and the things flowing from it. Also with NT Wright’s idea that Paul was writing against a Roman political system, an idea very influencial in the later works of Brian Mclaren (Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change). I also found it interesting that McKnight was introduced as a leader in the emerging church, this while I can swear I read McKnight himself writing that he write about the emerging church from the outside. However, I think this he does very good, do read his article on What is the Emerging Church? if you haven’t doen that yet.

Then later I had the oppurtunity to have lunch with McKnight and some other pastors from our denomination. We had some interesting conversations on the theological influences on South Africa. Someone at one stage summarized it like this: We are Dutch people, watching American television, reading German theology and talking an obscure language which no one understand. Interesting that British theology never really had a big influence on South Africa.

I know very little of Augustine, I must admit. Same with Luther, Calvin, and most church fathers. What I know of them I know from second hand knowledge. Well, in reality I’ve met very few people who actually know the giants from the past first hand, so I don’t feel that alone, although I’d like to change this over time. Someone said somewhere in the past few months at a place that I attended (I think it was Scott McKnight), that Augustine’s confession was the prototype for a conversion that went together with extreme experiences of guilt. Luther’s was similar. And this has become the prototype for how conversion stories must.

This was the classical conversion story that I’ve heard in my life. The recognition of my own total depravity, my absolute guilt, my being a worm in the eyes of God, and God then coming to take away this guilt. Recognition of sin always lead to an experience of guilt over this. Then the sin was forgiven, and God never though about it again.

In conversations on Apartheid, there is a group which I’d call that “sal-nie-langer-jammer-sê-nie”-group (translates with “I-will-not-say-sorry-any-longer”-group). This is from a song by a well-known Afrikaans band in which they sing about how they won’t say that they are sorry about Apartheid any longer. It was in reaction to this that Tom Smith and some friends started a website which said that they are sorry for Apartheid.

Let me quickly put down my thinking and then ask you to respond. I wonder whether there is a link. In this classical tale of conversion, past sins need to be forgiven quickly and gracefully, if not they lead to feelings of guilt. For those caught in this approach, the wrongs of Apartheid will lead to feelings of guilt if they make themselves part of the people who did this, and if they consider this a wrong which still must be addressed.

However, I also see some who don’t consider recognition of past, and even present, sins to be a source of guilt, but rather a source of change. In this approach guilt do not lead to redemption, but redemption lead to recognizing sins. Moving closer to God will reveal my own wrongs, my own sins, which I embrace because in time this will help me change. It’s not something bad, something which should be gotten rid of, but something good. Maybe it’s this lack of Augustinian guilt that make it easier for some to continue being sorry for Apartheid?

What’s your thoughts?

I’ve spent the past 2 days with some 15-20 reverends from the Dutch Reformed Church, Smith, Reggie Nel, Gert Steyn, the lecturer that taught me exegesis (although maybe he don’t want to be linked to that), and Scot McKnight. We started a discussion on the theology of Acts and what that might mean in practice for the church in South Africa today. The final reports was done by myself and three others that also blog, so we’ll be giving some thoughts on our reports. I’ll add the links as the posts come in.

Reggie Nel on Acts 21-28

Our group worked on Acts 15-20. Between 11:00 and 12:00 today, we identified the following as the most important theological thread for South Africa today:

Looking at our text, but also at the whole of Acts, we notice that Acts tell the story of boundries that was crossed. Of course, we didn’t notice this first, the scholars that introduced he discussion also pointed us to this.  However, what we believe is important is that the boundry crossing always caused the Jerusalem church to change their theology. When Peter visit Cornelius, the theology change. At the meeting in Jerusalem, the fact that boundries have been crossed changes the theology.

That we need to cross boundries is commonly accepted in South Africa today. But crossing boundries need to change the theology of those on the inside. The Dutch Reformed Church need to cross the racial and economic boundries (among others) that form our context, and this need to deeply change the theology of our church.

Missiologists call this contextualization. Contextualization should not be misunderstood as mere translation. Bosch pointed to this in Transforming Mission. I’ve written some thoughts on this about 2 years ago (check page 4 about of this document). Translation would imply a rethinking of symbols and language. Contextualization would imply a rethinking of theology, a transformation of our reflection on God and what that would mean for this day and age, within a differing context.

The core question for our church today: How would our understanding of God and the gospel be transformed when we cross the borders of our community? How would this changing reflection on God impact the practice of congregational and church life today?

Thoughts?

With Scot McKnight, Dan Kimball, and others starting their new network based on the Lausanne Covenent, it might be a good time to again reflect on the thoughts of David Bosch on the Lausanne Covenent. This was written in 1974, so Bosch knew about it, and wrote about it quite a lot. Regarding the current conversation about the term emerging, let’s just say that I don’t think the term is dead, and others are starting to say similar things, and that coming from different sides of the conversation.

I’m not gonna put references into the post, but you can follow his argument by reading Witness to the World and Transforming Mission, and checking the index to see where he is talking about Lausanne, and then his article titled The Scope of Mission publiched in the International Review of Mission, January 1984 (page 17-32). I’ll be spending some time on this in chapter three of my dissertation, which will be published on the wikispace I created for it next week, better references can be found there.

Time and again Bosch critiques the Lausanne Covenant for making evangelism primary and service secondary. This critique will be found from the late 70’s, right through the 80’s into the early 90’s, when Bosch died. Although Bosch admits the advantage of the “evangelism plus social responsibility” approach, he rejects it in the end. Now, on many occasions Bosch took the time to recognize points of Lausanne that he agreed with, but differed when it came to the primacy of evangelism part, which seem to be what is important in the current conversation, since so much of it concerns evangelism.

Interesting is that Bosch, even after knowing that Luke 4, rather than Matthew 28, was becoming the primary mission text, still seem to opt for the Matthew text. But he then points out that Matthew should not be understood within this view of evangelism being primary, but rather within the framework of teaching people justice-love. For Bosch the ultimate mission is the establishment of justice, and he doesn’t believe that if individuals have a personal experience of Chris in traditional pietistic terms they will automatically become involved in the changing of society.

Bosch wasn’t against evangelism. He wrote about it frequently and passionately. But Bosch helps us to put evangelism within a balanced perspective. Maybe all of us, no matter from which side of the emerging conversation we come from, need to again sit down and read what this great thinker of mission have written.

Those following the blog would have read about the current conversation surrounding the term emerging. Scot McKnight blogged about it today, and confirmed that they will be starting a new network commited to the Lausanne Covenant, according to him this will still be part of the broader emerging conversation, but as missional-evangelistic evangelicals. Tony Jones also blogged about this today, saying that the Emerging Church Movement is part of what is called New Social Movements, and that even if terminology dies, the movement will continue.

OK, here is a list of links from this year so far which I think is important in this conversation. I believe I missed a lot, so please comment if there is others which you believe should be added. I’ve linked almost all of these before, I’m just putting them together now.

February 25 Micheal Patton wrote a very long blog post in which is draw a diagram where different people were put in a line between conservative and liberal, where certain voices were Orthodox, and others not. D.A Carson was considered smack in the middle of Orthodoxy. This post cause a lot of reaction, from Dan Kimball, Scot McKnight, and hundreds of comments on it and the follow-up posts Patton wrote.

In June David Dunbar wrote this article in which he discussed the relation between Emerging, Emergent and Missional. In response Scot McKnight started discussing this on June 9, and Andrew Jones on June 10.

Then, a number of posts from this month:

September 1: Andrew Jones ask readers what to do with emerging, most says Dump it, and he seems to be dumping it, and opts for missional.

September 12: Dan Kimball makes a similar decision.

September 19: out of Ur reports on the end of the Emerging Church.

September 21: Steve Knight reacts on all this on the Emergent Village blogcast.

I wrote on this on June 10 and September 18.

Well, there you have it. This I must give everyone. I love the spirit in which this conversation is being had. Honest, but friendly. Differing, but keeping the conversation open. Let’s keep it up.

What links need to be added to this list?

updating my blogroll

July 21, 2008

Ever since I started blogging I’ve been tweaking my blogroll. Sometimes I want to have a lot of links of blogs I follow, other times I want those I find most valueble. Sometimes I devided them into categories, other times I just throw them under “blogroll”. Lately I took all the non-South African links of the blog, rather directing people to South African bloggers. But I just started adding blogs to the blogroll again. Generally I don’t add blogs like Jesuscreed, although I follow McKnight, I guess he get enough hits. Maybe I’ll continue adding blogs in the coming days or weeks.

Anyone out there, how do you do blogrolls?