more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.

 

The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.


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Friday
Mar282008

An open letter to my home town--updated

The following article is from Scot McKnight, October 2, 2009 on Rob Bell. It was written far before the fire storm that has broke out recently over "Love Wins" and betrays a bit of the angst that many evangelicals had towards Bell or anyone that was speaking outside the box before the book was released.

The article is followed by a metaphorical 'letter' I wrote in 2009 explaining what was happening to me. What astounds me now (May 14, 2011) is that this is happening to Rob Bell in a very public way

The McKnight post:

Yesterday I posted a recent interview with Rob Bell about what an “evangelical” is, and I said I’d weigh in today. I don’t think Rob Bell has defined “evangelical” but given a set of statements that are true about the use of the term in the media (political conservatives, sometimes anti-intellectual) and that are reactive and corrective to that stereotype. We need to avoid falling for how the media define terms, and it is a constant temptation in sound byte format to make our point — and that usually blocks perspective and dimension.

I’m dubious that Rob Bell is even attempting to define “evangelical” in its fullness. I would not equate this interview with what Rob Bell believes about “evangelicalism.” 

Furthermore, he defined “evangelical” by appealing to justifiably important elements of one part of the term “evangelical” — its socially active pursuit of justice and compassion and the good. 
But what he said about “evangelical” is not enough, and it fits in with a trend, a rather flippant one, of folks thinking they can determine what an evangelical is or not. Before I get to the trend, a good definition.

To define “evangelical” we need to pay attention to those who have made it their life study to come to terms with this movement, and two scholars have done just that: Mark Noll in the USA and David Bebbington (The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon And Moody (History of Evangelicalism)in the UK. They agree on this:  

an evangelical is a Christian Protestant for whom the central ideas are the leading authority of Scripture, the necessity of personal conversion, the centrality of the death of Christ on the cross as a substitutionary atonement, and the importance of a life of active following Jesus, seen in such things as Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, and deeds of compassion and justice.

That is the standard definition of evangelical. This definition summarizes those who care about getting this term accurate. It is not a definition designed to exclude some of whom they are worried. It’s big tent definition, but it bears no ill-will toward others. 

Now my observation today: I’m seeing a baffling desire by many who almost never talk about any of the above four ideas (as central to what they believe) but for some reason want to be called “evangelical.” They make a point to say they are evangelical. To be committed to justice or compassion as the central pursuit in life does not make one an evangelical, though evangelicals should be committed to justice and to compassion — and shame on those who aren’t. But what makes an evangelical is a commitment to the above four ideas (Bible, conversion, cross, discipleship). 

My question: Why do these folks want to be connected to the evangelicals?

Now let me back down just a tad: no one is the final judge on who is and who is not an evangelical, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a general ballpark definition like that of Noll and Bebbington that deserves serious respect. I’d call on all those who say they are evangelical to measure themselves accurately. And I’d especially call on those being asked by the media to offer clear and accurate definitions because only such folks can correct — over time — the stereotypes.

 

A prelude prior to the letter

Dear Scot McKnight,

I want to respond to your question from a personal perspective. I want to stay connected or 'in' the evangelical church because these are my roots, my family, my friends. To be set outside their camp because I am entertaining other perspectives within the realm of Christianity hurts. But I don't want to live in a less than forthright manner. While it is true that I would rather not risk losing them, not to mention my job and career and post as a pastor, I will and have. But it doesn't feel right, or just, or kind. It seems wrong. It has been costly to all of us, I, most of all.  

You ask, Why do these people (people like Rob Bell and myself) want to be associated with evangelicalism? Well here is the answer. Because we were born there. It is our roots. Have you ever seen 'Fiddler on the Roof' or the modern version of 'The Jazz Singer'? Roots run deep and things do change.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—  that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh... They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

From outside the circle.

Sincerely,

Daryl Underwood


Exile: An open letter to my home town 

“And after it rains
There's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there
its just imagination they lack

Everything's the same
Back in my little town”—Paul Simon in “My Little Town”

In the song “My Little Town” Paul Simon laments the inability for his roots to change with the changing times. Across the wide spaces after the cleansing rain there is a rainbow most certainly signaling something of a treasure somewhere out there. But not here, not in my little town laments Simon. Here the colors turn black after the rain. Why? Because there is no imagination. The townspeople lack the ability to wonder, to question, to seek, to move forward. They are quite satisfied with the way things are here.

And they don't want to rethink it.

And I come from a little town called Evangelicalism. I was born and raised there; it has its own way of thinking. I wouldn’t say or dare go so far as to sing that there is “nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town” of Evangelicalism but it is definitely slow to move and a bit unaware of the rest of the world. Like most little towns they do like to keep things the same. As a result I was a bit trapped there. I decided to move down the road and began to ask questions about other ways of doing things and some of the folks wondered about me.

“Does he think he is better than us? Why does he have to be so unsettled anyway, we have a great little town? Is he one of us anymore or one of them, those people out in the world?” and I lost some of my small town friends or we are just losing touch.

To this town and their musings I want to be clear. I do not consider myself better in any way, I am not chasing cars or chasing other stars or simply not very grateful or appreciative of the small town virtues.

No, none of the above is true.

In fact some of the simplicity of the small town comfort me and ground me. I am not any smarter or modern, or seeking fame or fortune, or emerging while you are so stuck in a rut, and I most emphatically do not disdain my heritage; it is really quite rich.

But I sense the stares and whispers when I am near. And this from my family or townsfolk.

I still want to stay in the family of Christianity. You see, some of the problem with my little town is their reluctance to accept the way anyone thinks unless it lines up with their thinking. They say they love you, accept you, etc. but their actions don't back it up so well. If you are not evangelical or fundamental you probably aren't "Christian" or so it seems.

But I needed to ask questions…and this was discouraged in the small town. And the questions became too loud to ignore. They spoke all the time and when I began to ask others, to talk about it, I found myself a bit tedious to them. They liked me, I grew up there, but they didn’t like what was happening to me. The questions lingered. It was time to move on before my questions alienated everyone in the small town.

But like any son I would like a blessing from my roots. Only time will tell if it will come. I suppose the people in evangelical-land don’t feel they owe me anything. We are right here in the town you came from and you know where to find us. I understand they hear stories of what I am up to and there are mixed reviews, some hope I’ll get over it, others secretly hope I will fall flat on my face so that I realize the error or arrogance of my way. And a few may actually hope it works out. As for me, I just would like to come home to hang out with my family and friends without feeling like I am some kind of deserter or outsider or bad person. And the purse strings, well I know they stay in town. But I imagined it might be different.

At any rate, I want to spread my wings again. And honestly, I would like a blessing to do so. I am not the enemy. New always comes and can never stop happening. But it doesn’t mean the old wasn’t a place to build character. And we never forget our roots.

 

Reader Comments (3)

Daryl,
Just ran upon your blog today, and I like it. I find your thoughts on this post, and on other posts about God and the Old Testament to be quite interesting. I "bless" what you're doing and wish and pray God's blessing on it right now. We all need each other, and we need much more thinking outside the box.

I think in doing that we might arrive to a better understanding of what's up on our way to seeing God's goal of the kingdom in the new creation realized in Jesus.

One danger can be that when we think we have an answer or kind of a handle for now on something, then we can easily tune out what others say which may not line up with that. And we end up missing out alot or at least something that is valuable or worth thinking about.

I'm adding you to my bloglink. Hope others will give you a read. I certainly don't exclude you or think you have nothing to offer, because I know better than that.

Blessings on you and Deb, and your family,
Ted

April 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTed M. Gossard

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the comments, I had been reading your blog recently as well...you have so much to offer still. I appreciate you adding me to your blog roll. May you find peace along the road.

Daryl

April 28, 2008 | Registered CommenterDaryl Underwood

Thanks, Daryl.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTed M. Gossard

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