I did this picture to remember Jess, our Border Collie for many years. We had lots of fun and great walks and good memories.
The picture evokes some of those walks ...... But also a sense of looking out at the wilds and contemplating the beauty of what is out there... Beauty to be enjoyed. Country to be explored. An adventure to be had.
When Jess died last year we buried her at the bottom of the garden, her garden, under a pile of stones in the midst of a wild patch - a sort of memorial pile of stones, a cairn.
Sometimes the Church is also thought of as a sort of memorial in a very positive way - ('do this in remembrance of me'). Walk around any ancient church and you get that sense of faithfulness over the centuries as people have worshipped and prayed in the same location. A great sense of tradition and history. The very stones cry out .....
Stones also act as a marker, a beacon. They can point in a certain direction. They were put there for a purpose - maybe to mark a trail. What they were for is not always obvious. It requires local knowledge, a sense of history.
But there is a danger of just becoming just a 'pile of old stones' - a memorial to the past. The church must always be dynamic, changing, relating to the context and the times. a message that is vibrant and fresh. Good news to all people.
I picked up a copy of Mark Driscoll's book 'Religion saves; and nine other misconceptions'
I liked the title but as I read on I was less enamoured with the content. It was a great idea:
'Driscoll set out to determine the most controversial questions among visitors to Mars Hill Church website. IN the end 893 questions were asked, and 343,203 votes were cast, and in Religion Saves Driscoll answers the nine questions receiving the most votes. in his responses Christians and non-Christians alike will find much to convict, to encourage and to shock them out of complacency'
It was democratic process of arriving at questions to address. Almost a bit of Crowd intelligence or Crowdsourcing. But the answers are not postmodern, wisdom of the Crowds, more the modernist, authoritative voice of the individual. And he is outspoken and frank.
Three questions deal with sex and dating, two questions cover the emerging church, then there is one question about Calvinists and Armenians, one covers the differences between Protestants and Catholics, and lastly the difference between old school and new school Calvinists.
But I was most interested in Question 2: The Emerging Church.
Driscoll talks about 'The four lanes of the missional church highway'
1 Missional Evangelicals
2 Missional House Church Evangelicals
3. Missional Reformed Evangelicals (his preferred position) and finally
4 Emergent Liberals who he particularly critiques - Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Rob Bell.
The first 3 positions are more or less the same... changing the church from within. He argues the last road is however reinventing the Christian faith. And to be avoided....
You can watch Mark Driscoll's video addressing the issue of 4 Lanes of the Emerging Church or look on the Mars Hill Blog
Facing different paths and wondering which direction to take
At the end of the chapter he cites Tony Jones:
'Emergent Christians. too, are pushing over fences and roaming around at the margins of the church in America. Once domesticated in conventional churches and traditional seminaries, more and more Christians are moving into the wilderness. They occasionally wander back, feeding off the structures and the theologies of traditional Christianity, but they never stick around long. Attempts to redomesticate them will fail. They've gone feral.'
In the video Mark Drscoll adds 'I think they've gone off the highway and are lost out in the woods.....'
where the wild things are, the place of adventure and fun, not just of sterile domesticated orderliness. I was left wondering which one I would prefer to travel on ? The well worn highway or the uncharted byway.....
"Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference" (Robert Frost)
I was surprised by the strength of the opinions he cites about these emergent leaders: 'Attempts to redomesticate them will fail. They've gone feral.'
And Driscoll ends the chapter even less ambiguously (and less graciously): 'This must have been what the apostle Paul was talking about when he said false teachers are 'dogs!'
Well all I can say is 'woof, woof'........
.... walkies anyone?