Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, pt. 5

it's been a long time since i've posted. i wanted to finish posting on this book (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches) before continuing on with other things. fact is, i found Pagitt's chapter went a bit over my head at times, so i was going to have Jak guest post for me on this chapter. but since he hasn't, and i'd like to resume blogging regularly, i figured i'd skim over the chapter (as it's been ages since i read it) and jump back into the blog world.

it's been said that this book was ordered from start to finish by most 'conservative' to most 'liberal,' and though i hate that those terms don't really tell us much, i'd have to disagree. i think if that order were true, i'd have to put Pagitt at the end. of the five authors, he tends to lean furthest from classic christianity (particularly as defined by evangelicals).

(btw, i recently heard Pagitt speak at the church basement roadshow and felt that what he said seemed pretty wild, but very cogent. he definitely strays from typical views of the gospel, but in ways that are refreshing. though i can't say i agree with much of what he says, i appreciate the breath of fresh air that he breathes into the church and the fact that he pushes people to think and challenges their assumptions.)

Pagitt states towards the beginning of the chapter that he is a contrarian, and that is clearly seen through many of the statements he makes. but i'll just pick out a few things he says that struck me.

in the section, "Theology is meant to be temporary," he says "Theology is the living understanding of the story of God in play with the story of our lives."

"There are far too many people inside Christian faith who feel the need to "give a nod" to the theology of their church or tribe, but it really has nothing to do with their lives. . . . In my views, this kind of disconnected theology is not useful nor should it be encouraged."

he writes a lot about the need for theology to be contextual, saying that we aren't to simply restate ideas of the past, but actually figure out what the gospel means - that we actually rethink the gospel not only in how it looks in our situation but to make sense of it in new ways.

overall, i'd say Pagitt would bring a bit of a shock to those from most 'traditional' backgrounds, but primarily because he realized that each of those 'traditional' backgrounds excludes a variety of other traditions: "When those from the Reformed tradition spoke of "traditional views," they were often not including the Anabaptist or Eastern Orthodox traditions (and the same worked the other way around). " it's easy to see our own theological lens as the correct one, and Pagitt shifts so far from all of them in so many ways, that it offers the corrective of reminding us that christianity exists around the world in different times and cultures through many different expressions - so much so that isolation in a particular tradition can cause the others to seem completely alien.

  • Driscoll: finds Pagitt's chapter the toughest to respond to, "One. . . I remain uncertain of his position on these issues (Trinity, atonement, Scripture). Two, his chapter is highly conceptual on how theology is not to be done." (then he spends a lot of time critiquing an author Pagitt quoted.)
  • Burke: "I find so much I agree with in principle, and yet I do not agree with how it appears he is applying some of those principles." (somewhat expected when responding to a self-professed contrarian.)
  • Kimball: "Every single time you talk to Doug, you'll generally have a new theological discussion of something he has been thinking about. I suppose that is why the basic theme of his chapter is that theology changes rather than being stagnant."
  • Ward: ". . . I really resonate with Doug and his views of theology as temporary, professional, contextual, particular, Spirit-led, and taking place in times of change." "So theology is not a done deal and a sealed canon written for us by others, that we need to swallow whole and espouse, but instead it is a living "art form" to which we as Christian practitioners are all given a brush."

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