Chicago Emerging Baptists

This site is intended to allow a forum for those in the NextGen Network of the Chicago Metro Baptist Assocition to continue their dialogue online and produce a resource for those interested in emerging topics.Please join in the conversation.

Monday, June 25, 2007

From my sermon last Sunday on Daniel 8, where it says that because of the little horn "truth was thrown to the ground" (v. 12).

Throwing truth to the ground is the very definition of the postmodern Zeitgeist. We live in an era when the very concept of truth is brought into question. Truth is relative, something that's merely created by a community. And when one community claims to have absolute truth they inevitably use that as an excuse to oppress and exploit another community, so the thinking goes. Totalizing truth is always totalitarian. It is, as postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault calls it, a 'regime of truth'. In other words, truth will hurt and control people. No one has a right to affirm that their truth is true for someone else. Therefore, truth itself is thrown to the ground.

And I'm afraid this thinking has crept into the church. A growing number find sermons to be passé and modernistic; offensive even. Theology, they claim, is entirely an art and not a science. Many buy into this notion that doctrine is dangerous; that any dogmatic assertions about God, Man, Sin, Christ, Salvation, etc… are arrogant and inhibiting. "We have our communally constructed truths, but they're fluid and adaptable and we would never try to impose them on someone else." It's true – truth has been used to beat people over the head and to make one feel self-righteous. It's true – many have been overly ambitious in their claims to exhaust the depths of God and to put him into nice, neat little categories of thought. But those truths do not negate the existence of truth. God is big, ineffable, infinite, incomprehensible, independent, non-contingent, timeless, possessing aseity… a being sui generis. These are all systematic theology terms that say that God cannot be contained in systematic theology textbooks. There is mystery. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of [his] law" (Dt. 29:29). There is much we don't know/can't know, but God has revealed certain things to us that correspond to reality as it is in him. They are true and they can and must be put into propositional statements that guide and control our thinking about God and his world. We've got to beware of extreme forms of postmodernism that can seep into the church and turn our faith to mush.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Daughter is going to love Lightning Bugs.

I was lounging in the backyard tonight reading Leonard Sweet's book, The Gospel According to Starbucks and as the daylight began to fade away (my reading light too) I decided to take a pause from my reading, close the book, sit back and reflect a bit on Sweet's work.

As I sat, pondering, a lightning bug flew near, illuminated bottom and all…then it hit me…not the bug…the light bulb…over my head I mean…errr….

Noël is going to love Lightning Bugs.

I can just imagine her face now…"Wow Daddy!"

And why shouldn't she be amazed, they're amazing little buggers.

Growing up I remember my mom telling us, as we awed over the fiery creatures, when she was a youth her and her siblings used to capture them, toss them to the ground and smear them with their feet to write out their names…(my uncles' ideas I'm sure but c'mon, where's the anti-cruelty society when you need them?)

I remember one night, as a young adult, driving to Tulsa to go on vacation with a friend, right at dusk, when the conflagrating Coleopterans emerge from their (where do they emerge from anyways?) I was driving down the interstate when…WHAM one unfortunate Fire Buttom met his (or her) end by smashing into my windshield, leaving a wondrous orange smear across the glass of my 1994 pickup. I "wow-ed" over this for the next 10 to 15 miles!

But no, this blog entry isn't about the old adage: Sometimes you're the windshield…sometimes you're the bug. This entry is about being amazed.

While Sweet's book may just be the Emerging Churches (or at least Sweets) attempt at the Purpose Driven Life I have to admit that so far I like this book.

The thesis of Sweet's new book (actually came out in January of this year) is that Starbucks has taken "an old, unexcited standby – hot, dark liquid in a cup – and made it an EPIC beverage that millions of people feel they can't live without" (pg 22). Sweet gleans from the business that has us opening our wallets for $4 a cup coffees, which we even stand in line for, to draw out his EPIC life (Experiential, Participatory, Image Rich, Connective) principles and encourage us to live our lives not according to duty and guilt but to live with a "Grande Passion."

So far I've gotten just as far, in the book, for Sweet to introduce EPIC, I'll be reading (and hopefully finish) the book over the rest of the week and let you know what else I stumble upon.

But for now I just wanted to tell you all that my daughter is going to love Lightning Bugs…amazing.

The first few chapters of this book have my wondering: what are the things in our lives that used to amaze us so much, they amaze our kids, but we're so busy or so involved in "something else" that we're missing? (And now I have My Favorite Things running through my head…) What are the little things (Lightning Bugs) or the big things (standing on the western shore of Maui knowing the next thing out there, way out there, is Japan) that WOW us but we're too preoccupied to be amazed?

"Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded." – Habakkuk 1.5

My daughter is going to love Lightning Bugs…