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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brueggeman, W. (1978) The Prophetic Imagination. Fortress 

My impression is that we have split those two items much too easily but not without reason. The liberal tendency has been to care about the politics of justice and compassion but to be largely uninterested in the freedom of God. Indeed, it has been hard for liberals to imagine that theology mattered, for all of that seemed irrelevant. And it was thought that the question of God could be safely left to others who still worried about such matters. As a result, social radicalism has been like a cut flower without nourishment, without any sanctions deeper than human courage and good intentions. Pp18

The point that prophetic imagination must ponder is that there is no freedom of God without the politics of justice and compassion, and there is no politics of justice and compassion without a religion of the freedom of God. Pp18

The prophetic community might ponder what the preconditions of doxology are and what happens when doxologies that address this One are replaced by television jingles that find us singing consumerism ideology to ourselves and to each other. In that world there may be no prophet and surely no freedom. In that world where jingles replace doxology, God is not free and the people know no justice or compassion. 26

Task of prophetic imagination is to offer symbols of hope that are adequate to contradict a situation of hopelessness; to bring to public expression those very hopes and yearnings that have been denied so long and suppressed.

Jesus is remembered and presented by the early church as the faithful embodiment of an alternative consciousness. In his compassion he embodies the anguish of those rejected by the dominant culture, and as embodied anguish he has the authority to show the deathly end of the dominant culture. Quite clearly, the one thing the dominant culture cannot tolerate or co-opt is compassion, the ability to stand in solidarity with the victims of the present order. It can manage charity and good intentions, but it has no way to resist solidarity with pain or grief. So the structures of competence and competition stand helpless before the one who groaned the groans of the hurting ones. And in their groans they announce the end of the dominant social world. The imperial consciousness lives by its capacity to still the groans and to go on with business as usual as though none were hurting and there were no groans. If the groans become audible, if they can be heard in the streets and markets and courts, then the consciousness of domination is already Jeopardized. 88

the formation of an alternative community with an alternative consciousness is so that the dominant community may be criticized and finally dismantled. But more than dismantling, the purpose of the alternative community is to enable a new human beginning to be made. The primary work of Moses was to make a new human beginning with the religion of God's freedom and the politics of justice and compassion. 96

prophetic ministry does not consist of spectacular acts of social crusading or of abrasive measures of indignation. Rather, prophetic ministry consists of offering an alternative perception of reality and in letting people see their own history in the light of God's freedom and his will for justice. The issues of God's freedom and his will for justice are not always and need not be expressed primarily in the big issues of the day. They can be discerned wherever people try to live together and worry about their future and their identity. 110

Prophetic ministry is to evoke an alternative community that is not a two day a week affair but constantly seeks to penetrate the numbness and despair so that new futures can be believed in and embraced in a world that has grown weary.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Brewin, K. (2004) The Complex Christ. SPCK  

One can always tell that an institution is in trouble when infighting starts and those at the top begin to lose sight of the outside world, focusing all their energies on internal wrangling; seemingly determined to pull the house down around them rather than lose face. Pp3

In all emergent systems we see that the cycle of sensing, learning, adapting and changing is one that is going on constantly. It is not parachuted in every four years for a bigshake-up, but permeates the whole organism and is continually effecting changes quietly in the background. Many who have written about the application of this form of change to organizations have referred to the tradition in Japanese Industry of Kaizen, which emphasizes a process of continuous small-scale improvement. There are no grand meetings where the board members decree how the company is going change. Rather, each member of the company and each within it is encouraged to continually reflect on any small ways in which they could improve their work or work place - and the cumulative effect of these tiny incrementalchanges over time is large-scale transformation. Pp81

"…the principle of using gifts as a way of starting conversations about faith is one that Christ rejected, and we should too. Not that we should close all soup-kitchens; it is just that they must not be used as a means to a different end. but as an end in themselves." pp.120

"It is my belief that the Emergent Church will be, as Christ himself was, a force for re-evaluating dirt boundaries, and as a result of these re-evaluations, become a place of refuge for those who have previously been labelled as 'dirty'. pp137

Need to acknowledge that there is part of Judas in easch of us. For we are all Judas when we try to co-opt Christ into our own agenda. We are all Judas when we try to force Christ's hand. We are all Judas when we try to box Christ up for ourselves and control other people's access to him. We are all Judas when we pretend that Christ is located in one place or one person and that all who come to God must come in a particular way in a particular style. And we are all Judas when we try to compel Christ into revolution. Pp 162


Gibbs, E. and Coffey, I (2001) Church Next: Quantum Changes in Christian Ministry. IVP 

No prepackaged 'gospel presentations' and 'seeker-sensitive' worship services will constitute adequate responses to the challenge presented by the post-Christian, neopagan, postmodern generation. The church's witness must be self-evidently altruistic among people shaped by a culture that is profoundly suspicious. For the postmodernist, 'all principles are preferences - and only preferences - they are nothing but masks for the will to power, which is the ultimate source of what we call "values"

The church in the postmodern era must be prepared to witness with vulnerability and humility from the margins of society, much as it did in the first two centuries of its existence. Pp35

Churches throughout the western world find themselves increasingly marginalized from society as they endeavour to relate the good news to people whose assumptions and attitudes have been shaped by modernity and postmodernity, The post-Christian, neopagan, pluralistic context of the western world presents cross-cultural missionary challenges every bit as daunting as those we would face in any non-western country. Pp41

The Gospel and Our Culture Network provides the following twelve empirical indicators of a missional church:

1 It is a church that proclaims the gospel.
2. It is a community where all members are involved in learning to become disciples of Jesus.
3. The Bible is normative in the life of the church.
4. The church understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death and resurrection of its Lord.
5. The church seeks to discern God's specific missional vocation for the entire community and for all its members.
6. Christians behave Christianly toward one another.
7. The church is a community that practises reconciliation.
8. People within the community hold themselves accountable to one another in love.
9. The church practises hospitality
10. Worship is the central act by which the community celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God's presence and God's promised future.
11. The church is a community that has a vital public witness.
There is a recognition that the church itself is an incomplete expression of the reign of God." Pp56

The use of the term 'belonging' does not imply that the unbeliever is spiritually incorporated into the body of Christ, for that cannot occur apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We must recognize that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, we do not belong to him. Here I am using the term 'belong' to mean full acceptance as a human being made in the image of God, even though that image is marred by sin.

A sense of belonging places seekers in the position of observer participant so that they can learn what the gospel is all about. They can observe at close quarters how it impacts the lives of individuals and shapes a community. Pp194

If believers are to make an impact in todays fractured and disoriented society, they will need to learn survival skills and themselves be transformed by the message they seek to communicate. Discipleship simply means the imitation of Christ (1 Thess. 1:6). Through the first-century Thessalonian believers the gospel spread as imitators of Christ became examples to others, so that in every place their faith in God became known (vv. 7-8). Eugene Peterson sums it up in his paraphrase, 'The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore -you're the message!"'

A disciple is one who embodies the message he or she proclaims. It was to people who were themselves disciples that Jesus gave the Great Commission to disciple the nations. Pp 223


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gibbs, E. and Coffey, I. (2001) Church Next – Quantum changes in Christian Ministry. IVP 

"In societies where there is widespread suspicion of exaggerated claims, ploys for power, manipulative marketing techniques and organised religion, the church will have to adopt different communication strategies to avoid suspicion. It’s stance must be less confrontational and programmatic and more relational and contextual. We have a lot of unlearning to do if we are to relate to a growing segment of the population that has either given up on church or for which church has never been part of its life." pp189


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