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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Thursday
Feb122009

mike and me

 

OK...I admit it. The title of this post is a shameless copy of the famous book Morrie and Me by Mitch Alblom. Albom’s breakthrough book came about after viewing Morrie Schwartz’s interview with Ted Koppel on ABC News Nightline in 1995, in which Schwartz, a sociology professor, spoke about living and dying with a terminal disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease). Albom, who had been close with Schwartz during his college years at Brandeis, reconnected with his former professor, visiting him in suburban Boston and eventually coming every Tuesday for discussions about life and death. Albom, seeking a way to pay for Schwartz’s medical bills, sought a publisher for a book about their visits. Although rejected by numerous publishing houses, the idea was accepted by Doubleday shortly before Schwartz’s death, and Albom was able to fulfill his wish to pay off Schwartz’s bills.

The book, Tuesdays with Morrie, was published in 1997, a small volume that chronicled Albom’s time spent with his professor. The initial printing was 20,000 copies. Word of mouth grew the book slowly, and a brief appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” nudged the book onto the New York Times bestseller’s list in October 1997. It steadily climbed, reaching the No. 1 position six months later.

Enough of that. And I concede, admit, and am aware that Mike and Me really don't have that close of a relationship. But still...isn't the title catchy...and isn't Albom's story good.

Recently I saw a DVD of Simon and Garfunkel’s final concert at Central Park. At one point Simon cajoles Garfunkel in reminiscing about the old days. Once ‘we used to argue all the time…but we don’t fight anymore-- now we just say, that’s your view…and I can respect that’. The crowd laughed and everyone smiled. They loved it because it showed a maturity born of wisdom and a great friendship now reunited. When we are young ‘everything seems important’ when we get older—that just isn’t so anymore. That seems to me to be a mark of post modernity and emergence. We really value friendship and hold that as high virtue. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe anything. Far from it—indeed some emergents are the most passionate people I know. We just hold onto conclusions a little more easy.

The following is a discussion that is happening on Michael Wittmer’s blog. Hold on easy. I am.

Wittmer, a theologian at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, has been wrestling through the frustration inherent with trying to 'get' or understand ‘the great emergence’. I have been trying to help him understand. The following is a portion of his blog...and my response. When taken alongside of some of the recent posts on this blog a more complete yet unfinished portrait begins to take shape.

Here is the blog and response:

What Bavinck says…

February 12, 2009 by mikewittmer

Since I already know John Calvin pretty well (having studied under Richard Muller and taught a course on Calvin several times), I’ve decided to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his birth by reading Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (Baker).

In my reading for today, I came across some quotes which, though perhaps not persuasive to many emergent Christians, should carry weight with my friend and interlocutor Kevin Corcoran, who teaches at Calvin College (being Dutch Reformed, they rightly appreciate Kuyper and Bavinck there).

Here Bavinck says that “belief that” logically precedes and generates “belief in,” and both are essential to authentic Christianity.

Bavinck wrote that “For the knowledge (cognitio) as Calvin views it includes trust (fiducia), and trust in turn is not possible without knowledge. The two do not just stand in juxtaposition, nor are they merely linked by the words ‘not only but also,’ but they are organically interconnected” (4:130).

Bavinck observed that the need to believe in Jesus was so important that in Scripture ‘believers’ is another word for Christians (Acts 10:43; 1 Tim. 4:3, 12)” (4:106).

He added that “From the very beginning this faith included two elements: (1) acceptance of the apostolic message concerning the Christ and (2) personal trust in that Christ as now living in heaven and mighty to forgive sins and to bestow complete salvation” (4:106).

Me (being Michael Wittmer): (1) is “belief that” and (2) is “belief in.”

Finally, Bavinck said that “Believing always includes acceptance of the witness God has given of his Son through the apostles as well as unlimited trust in the person of Christ. The two are inseparable. Those who truly accept the apostolic witness trust in Christ alone for their salvation; and those who put their trust in Christ as the Son of God also freely and readily accept the apostolic witness concerning that Christ. The two together, subjectively speaking, constitute the essence of Christianity.”

“If Christ were only a historical person who by his doctrine and life had left us an example, historical belief in the witness handed down to us would be sufficient. However, in that case Christianity would never mature into true religion, that is, into true communion with God, and Deism would be right.”

“Conversely, if Christ, in keeping with the pantheistic view, were not the historical but solely the ideal Christ, belief in an apostolic witness would be totally superfluous, and Christ would be nothing other than the life of God in us, but then there could not be true communion between God and us either, for such communion presupposes an essential distinction between the two” (4:107-8).

Me again: I’m not saying he is a pantheist, but Peter Rollin’s refusal to admit belief in the historical resurrection of Jesus looks similar to what Bavinck is refuting in this last paragraph.

My initial response for Mike...

Mike,

I like Bavinck’s statement “For the knowledge (cognitio) as Calvin views it includes trust (fiducia), and trust in turn is not possible without knowledge. The two do not just stand in juxtaposition, nor are they merely linked by the words ‘not only but also,’ but they are organically interconnected”--but feel it is a bit incomplete.

We also need to proclaim ‘fidelity’ which indicates a unity with Christ, a oneness in covenant with him, illustrated in marriage…and 'viseo', which I understand as ‘living into the dream of God’ as Jesus envisioned that dream.

We also need to leave ’space’ for what has to be known in order to ‘trust’, ‘pledge’, and ‘dream’ with Christ.

Even an autistic child can have trust, loyalty, and dream with a parent while they have a cognitive challenge in respect to understanding what their parent does for a living, or how much they owe on the house, etc.

If I heard right… this is what Smith (philosophy professor at Calvin) was getting at in the afternoon panel discussion at the symposium for Worship and Arts…and I agreed with him then as well.

It must be frustrating, (recall jell-o to the wall illustration) to get ‘emergents’ (which is not a boxed set group) to make ‘a stand’. But the reason it is hard is because– by the very nature of ‘emerging’– it is virtually impossible to nail them down. It is impossible (and hence frustrating) because it is fluid and there simply is not and most likely will not be one ‘doctrinal’ statement. Within emergence there is a wide spectrum of conflicting views or ideas. And that’s ok.

In other words, I can be labeled ‘emerging’ and not have the same views as Kevin Corcoran (philosophy professor at Calvin) . We are comfortable with that. Perhaps I do have the same view. We are comfortable with that, too. We may be labeled to be in the same tribe…but in reality there is no tribe. Friends trying to make their way to heaven.

Mike and Me--can be friends after all.

 

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Reader Comments (1)

Daryl,

I read those Mitch Albom books when I was in college. Wept like a baby!!! Anywho, you said "When we are young ‘everything seems important’ when we get older—that just isn’t so anymore." That's been my experience. It is not, however, the experience of everyone. And that's okay. I think of it like this. Our beliefs as Christians fall somewhere on a series of concentric circles. In the center are those beliefs that all Christians share--Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant. They are summed up in the Apostle's Creed. Outside the center, and moving toward the periphery, are beliefs that though important are not central. For example, whether you believe in infant baptism or dedication, whether you believe in evolutionary creation or Creationism, whether you believe in women's ordination, whether you believe in monogomous, homosexual unions or not, or, finally, whether you believe that intellectual assent to the content of the Apostle's Creed MUST temporally precede one's life being transformed by Christ--all of these, important though they are, are not cenral or essential to the Christian faith. I myself can't imagine getting to heaven and having God say: "Okay, Corcoran, what was your view on infant baptism?" and me offering my answer only to hear God say: "Wrong answer, son. Off to hell you go!!!" I think some people still think "everything" is essential or impotant or, if not everything, than too many things.

Keep it up!
Kevin

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Corcoran

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