Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, pt. 4

i'll return to the blogosphere now to finally finish up this set of posts on Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches.

Dan Kimball fits neatly in as the middle author of this book with his chapter on missional theology.

(though, before getting into his chapter and theology i must point out that as much as he's known for his speaking and writing, he is most well-known in emerging circles for his wild pompadour hairstyle: see picture.)

while Kimball says that he would still consider himself a "conservative evangelical," he is concerned about the reputation of that term in our society.

in practice, his interpretation of being emergent consists of rethinking how we do church in light of cultural changes. "We must rethink leadership, church structure, the role of a pastor, spiritual formation, how community is lived out, how evangelism is done, how we express our worship, etc."

theologically, he focuses on the nicene creed, believing that there are a few basics beyond the creed that are standard orthodox beliefs, but is "comfortable in saying both 'I don't know' and 'this I know'" to most issues beyond the creed.

his church's (vintage faith church) tagline is 'a worshiping community of missional theologians,' as a community that comes together for worship, steps out into the community to serve (instead of remaining isolated), and where all are seen as theologians (not just the academics).

i like Kimball a lot, especially his passion for working to make the church a more approachable place for folks who don't usually go to church (i posted previously on his book They Like Jesus but not the Church), as well as his emphasis on core beliefs (like the nicene creed) instead of 'majoring on the minors.'

a quick run-through the responses:

  • Mark Driscoll: Driscoll starts by saying that he met Kimball, "when he and his very cool hair picked me up at the airport," and says that he appreciates Kimball's emphasis on Jesus but that a nicene creed Christianity is not enough because it doesn't answer certain "current issues." he goes on to outline a computer-speak concept of christianity, splitting into different 'versions' from 1.0 to 4.0 christianity, saying he "fear[s] that less thoughtful Christians will agree on the need for the kind of Christianity 1.0 that the Nicene Creed provides, but will refuse to also upgrade to the Christianity 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 as needed." [comment: i won't even begin to post my thoughts on his various upgrades to christianity.]
  • John Burke: Burke agrees with Kimball throughout his comments, and commends his focus on core theological questions answered, "so that we can decide if we will truly follow Jesus, not just in profession, but also in practice," leaving the rest of the issues as ideas to wrestle with after we've got the basics covered.
  • Doug Pagitt: Pagitt and Kimball are longtime friends, yet Pagitt disagreed with Kimball's view of the creed believing that the creeds are "cultural theological responses," and even the core issues as defined in the creed are ones that we should still struggle with. "To suggest that these creeds constitute some sort of timeless doctrine of the finality is to put a pressure on the creeds they were never meant to withstand."
  • Karen Ward: a large part of her response is quoting things Dan said that she agrees with. the first that stood out was how he defines the emerging church as "those who notice culture is changing and are not afraid to do deep ecclesiological thinking as we are on a wonderful adventurous mission together for the gospel of Jesus." the other one that felt very true to what i know of Karen was "his view of his role as 'a pastor and leader in a local church community, on a mission striving to be true to Scripture, but also engaged in the culture and thus enjoying wrestling with theological issues our culture raises.'"

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