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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in emergent (5)

Monday
Oct252010

Hipster Christianity and poking fun at ourselves - Church planting explained...

I am trawling through reams of emails that I couldn't read during the build up to the Lausanne Congress.  I still have such a lingering sense of gratitude and feel so blessed to have been part of this amazing event!  I'll post a reflection as soon as I have a few minutes to spare. It was straight into the office at 7am this morning for various meetings...

The Congress has left another lingering memory - I have a Indo-Chinese-African-American-European type flu... Don't feel too good today!  Hence this post.  I'm siting in a meeting with my iPad writing this quick post... If anybody asks you please tell them I'm taking notes ;-)

A friend sent me a link to this great YouTube video that pokes fun at how we plant Churches!  This 'friend' happens to have planted many wonderful Churches in his ministry, and has succesfully helped many others to do the same.  I thought it was wonderful that he could laugh about something that he is so passionate about!  So, please take this with a pinch of salt.  We need to plant Churches, they need to be effective, culturally relevant and attract people!  This is just a bit of fun.

How to plant a Church (a complete primer in just 3 minutes).

 

It kind of reminded me of this new book (that I am still intending to read) - Hipster Christianity (when Church and Cool collide) by Brett Mccracken.

I have read the hilarious book - 'Stuff Christians like' by Jon Acuff which seemed to have a little more of a critical edge to it.  I laughed, but I did so in secret (if you know what I mean).  So much of what I read in that book reflected a belief I hold, had held, or wished I had not held.  Indeed, it was a pretty entertaining book for a Christian like me who is moving beyond denying some of my naivete towards a more honest and open expression of my faith.

What is certain is that I love Jesus, I know that he loves the cosmos and every person in it, and I want to find ways of authentically bringing his love to bear on the world.

So, anyone want to join me in a Church plant?  Bring the cash, I'll lead worship!

 

Thursday
Oct072010

Is God a heretic?

In Mark 2.13-17 to we read one of the many accounts in the Gospels where Jesus was judged by the Pharisees for fraternizing with sinners.

There is little doubt that the religious establishment of his day thought that Jesus was a heretic!

I was reminded of this today as I was speaking to a friend about one of my little books 'Christ at the centre - discovering the cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths'.  We were remarking how different Fr Bede's Christology was from that of his friend CS Lewis.  In fact, Fr Bede's theology developed in a very different way to CS Lewis' - I think that it may be because each of the men honoured the context in which they served Christ.  Lewis formed his faith in the University City of Oxford, while Griffiths formed his faith as a missionary monk in Southern India.  Both were committed to Jesus, yet that commitment found expression in quite different ways.

I was milling over our conversation as I was driving to a meeting at the University of Stellenbosch (where I was to give input into a new Master's degree for ministry practitioners).  My thoughts turned to two rather strange questions:

1)  I wonder how the contemporary Church would 'judge' God's radically gracious theology?

2) Would we, like the pharisees of Jesus' time, consider God to be heretic?

Here's a video I recorded while driving.

In the December 2008 volume of the Journal STUDIA HISTORIAE ECCLESIASTICAE I did a review on Richard Burridge's wonderful book 'Imitating Jesus: An inclusive approach to New Testament ethics' - Burridge makes an interesting point in his book, one that I tend to agree with.  He notes that if we read the words of Jesus (his teaching) we will see that he had a rather stringent ethic, a high set of moral standards.  Yet if we observe the actions of Jesus we will find that he acts far more graciously.  It is not a matter of incongruence, or cognitive dissonance, rather it is that the teaching of 'the law' finds it's fullest expression in a life of loving grace.

Perhaps the contemporary Church, and many Christians, have become too caught up in the stringency of 'the law' and have not held on to a lifestyle of loving grace.

Perhaps we would consider God to be unorthodox, maybe even a heretic? What do you think?

As for me, I am trying to be a little more like Jesus every day! I want His love for this world to run through my speech, my thoughts and my actions.  Some may find the company that I keep difficult to bear, the may even call me unorthodox, perhaps even a heretic!

Tuesday
Jun012010

A new way of 'being community' - Ron Martoia's ttTribe Manifesto

I have been a fan of Ron Martoia's work for some time now.  I devoured his recent book 'The Bible as Improv' (on my iPad no less!) and found it to be one of the most accessible, and clearly reasoned books on forming a Biblical faith in a world of competing truths.  Ron's style is not to skirt around thorny issues, but to approach them head on, thoughtfully and meticulously deconstructing the facts from the fiction.  His work is well researched, extremely well written, but what sets it apart from other such excellent texts are his ideas!

Ron has a passion for authentic faith and an authentic expression and experience of being in community with Jesus Christ.  I find a great personal resonance in his passionate approach to knowing Christ and making him known.  When I read Ron's books, and the posts on his blog, I get an image of someone who is not willing to live with a lie, or a half truth, or a denial of the difficulty of being in relationship with God in Christ in real world situations!  There are far too many Christian authors and theologians who skim over the tough questions and real challenges for the sake of comfort; placing a higher value on appeasing the masses than on discovering and sharing expressions of truth.

Today Ron released his 'Transformational Trek Tribe Manifesto' - it is a challenging series of invitations for authentic Christian living.  As I read it my perceptions of the Christian faith and Christian living were challenged and reshaped.  It is only 12 pages long, but perhaps these are among the best 12 pages I've read this year.  There are some points that I am still digesting, considering, and praying through.  I guess that is the way it should be with challenging thoughts!  You may not agree with everything that Ron writes in the ttTribe Manifesto, but it will certainly challenge you to seek a deeper, more sincere, and more authentic faith life in Christ and the world.  I invite you to read it!

I will be making this required reading for my students!  Once you've read it I would love to hear your feedback and comments!

Monday
May032010

Connected by the strong bonds of God's grace - Sivin Kit a good friend.

I am blessed with many wonderful friends!  I relate to many of them because we share at least one common interest.  There are a few others with whom I feel a closer affinity because we share some deeper and more significant common values.  Then there are those among whom I am privileged to be counted, because we share a common approach to our faith in Christ.

My friend Sivin is one such friend.  

Since we first met in Malaysia in 2007 we have stayed in good contact.  Here's what I wrote in reflection of our first meeting:

Yesterday I made a new friend, Rev. Sivin Kit, he is a theologian, and pastor, and to our amazement we found that we have so many things in common! Rev. Kit kindly collected me from Kuala Lumpur at the end of the MPC to bring me to the 'Seminari theoloji Malaysia'. He is a past graduate of the seminary, and now serves as a Lutheran pastor in KL.

As Sivin and I talked I was amazed to discover just how many things we have in common as persons (for one thing we're the same age, but for another we are both avid bloggers! Please take a look at Sivin's blog here: Sivin Kit's Garden. Sivin is also the co-ordinator for 'emergent Malaysia', a network of pastors and laity that are engaged in the conversations of the emergent Church movement. He knows so much more about both the theology, and the ideals, of this movement than I do! What is more, Sivin hosted Brian Mclaren on his visit to Malaysia (I even got to eat in the same restaurant as they ate!) Thanks Sivin for your hospitality, friendship, and patient engagement with me!

Sivin and I remain close.  We have a common desire to follow the person and ways of Jesus.  

Of course there are as many ways to following Jesus as there are people, since true discipleship of Christ is expressed and discovered in a loving relationship with Jesus as savior and Lord. For each of us this journey has meant that we've had to go beyond some of the boundaries of conventional expressions of the Christian faith.  Of course the aims of these careful explorations in faith are pretty similar to those of conventional Christian communities, i.e., to forge loving obedience, to seek true transformation, and to encourage authentic and courageous living with Jesus and those who Jesus loves (in that last part of the sentence you can read 'Jesus loves everyone, not just Christians 'like you' or Christians 'like me'.  Heck, Jesus has a special love for people who do not yet recognized His love!').

Many find such a radically inclusive Christian position offensive.  Others feel unsettled at attempts to discover new depths in authentic Christian living.  For some the thought of uncertainty that is brought about by change is simply too much to bear.

And so, there are times where we are misunderstood.  There are other times where we face rejection for our approach to the Christian faith. I have come to expect this.  As I've said elsewhere, I don't expect people to be able to understand my theology in its entirety - even I don't understand myself fully!

Thankfully, we are not alone on this journey.  There are millions of believers, all across the globe, who are not satisfied with 'mere Christianity'.  There are many faithful servants of Christ who are serious about servanthood.  Many believe that it truly is God's intention to transform the world, and not only to fill the Church. And so we stand together in a loose affiliation of discovery.  We are bound less by a common set of truths than by a recognition that God's gracious love for the world is mystery of grace that requires a tangible response.  We are frail and imperfect servants of a gracious and powerful God!  Our contexts differ, and so do our responses - but our desire is largely the same; faithfulness to Christ and His Kingdom.

Here's a wonderful video of my friend Sivin Kit at the Transform conference (with Brian Mclaren). It gives a great overview of Sivin's ministry and context.

From this video you'll see that Sivin and I have one other thing in common...  the ability to film while driving!

Please visit Sivin's blog here - you will find hours of wonderful reading.  Many incredible resources, and enough challenging thoughts to sustain both your mind and your soul!

Tuesday
Feb092010

Are social justice and evangelism mutually exclusive in the Christian faith?

Among evangelical Christians there seem to be some basic differences, perhaps one could even call them divides.  One of the more common differences relates to what the intention of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus is about.  

Some would suggest that the intention of the Gospel is to 'preach truth' to people so that they are convicted of their personal sin and so make a commitment to Christ that saves them from eternal damnation.  The outcome of that process in this life may be a transformation of behaviour.

Others, such as myself, believe that the thrust of the Gospel has to do with connecting people with the saving power of Christ that not only deals with their personal sin, but also empowers them to engage with structural sins in the world around them.  Why do persons steal?  Frequently it is because they have need, or they have been poorly socialized.

So, are these two approaches mutually exclusive of one another?  Here's a great video from Skye Jethani, the editor of the Leadership Journal and a founder of the 'Out of Ur' blog on this topic.  I'd love to hear your feedback!