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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« 'creation is waiting' | Main | faith and belief modified »
Thursday
Apr152010

mcCarthy and me

An Emerging Manifesto

McCarthyism is the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term specifically describes activities associated with the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents.

Another type of McCarthyism is alive and living in evangelical America. In some ways it is just as suspicious, just as intolerant, and just as destructive as the aforementioned era of American history we now look at with incredulity. I know because I have been one of the casualties. Sometimes I feel like an exile from my own hometown. I have as a result become, as my musician friend Drew Nelson wrote in his song 'Stranger' --a stranger in my own life, an alien moving away from the proverbial 'city of God'.

Just outside the city gates on the way to my own Golgotha.

I have named this personal statement of faith an emerging manifesto because some people will see the document in a negative light from the onset. They have 'answers' and won't give any other dialogue a chance. They will view (as they might all things 'emerging') this document as some type of communist propaganda in the way that McCarthyism created a scare in the late 40's through the 50's. I will be caste in the mold of 'emergent' and thought of as an outsider to true Christianity and perhaps even treated as a traitor. People will be warned of this documents danger. They will speak of it without really looking at it. They might tell their friends to beware of it.

But then there are other people. People who have been moving away from the city of God for some time now. But they are not willing to be 'put away' quite yet.

They are people who see possibility. People who know change is coming and determined to gather all that we have come to know and allow it to adjust our thinking. People who might somehow see this writing as a type of freedom paper. This piece might be welcomed and thought upon and talked about. It may be like a refreshing breeze on a rather uncomfortable, sticky, humid day. It might be viewed as a step along the way of emerging faith. I write these things because some are longing for a drink in the dry and arid land of evangelicalism. The road to Golgotha might be the right road after all.

Some people can feel the changes and know in their gut that we have not arrived, that we are on a journey of understanding, and some answers once acceptable, will not stand in the crucible of the times we live in.

For me this is just a document whose time has come. I have grown weary of trying to explain or defend some of my personal emerging thinking. I had to declare something from the top in order put a line in the sand. People on one side of the line may have put this down and dismissed it already. People on the other side of the line will give it a chance.

I would rather the lines not exist but that is not reality at this juncture. 'Emerging' Christianity is a war zone. Accusations and innuendo are many. It will be that way for quite some time. Cie la vie.

So this is a beginning not an ending. I have used the Evangelical Free Church of America Statement of Faith as a guide to provide a structure that is familiar. I hope this helps dismiss some fears and accusations to set minds at ease to enter the 'playground' of imagination where new ideas are found. One must keep in mind that this is 'an' not 'the' emerging manifesto. There is and hopefully never will be the emerging manifesto. Should one be developed it will be a sham. Something that is finished ceases to emerge and becomes a dated and obsolete document. For emerging to be emerging it must morph, it must change, it must, to state the obvious--emerge.

So much is changing so fast in our generation. One only need visit a salvation army or goodwill store to see this is true. What we have bought or purchased in our lives now sits on the shelf as obsolete relics of a bygone age. An alarm clock you wind, an electric typewriter, a vinyl record. I remember when they were contemporary, useful. And now they are relics. It happened in my own life. Antiques aren't hundreds of years old anymore. Some things become obsolete in a matter of years.

This is what is happening in The Great Emergence (an insightful term borrowed from Phyllis Tickle) to Christianity.

The classic children's movie 'Toy Story' is coming to pass in our time. Certain non-negotiables will inevitably fall away in the mainstream and find their place 'on the edges' as the emergence continues. They will strive to stay in a dominate place until they are all but obsolete and ultimately irrelevant to mainstream spirituality. The trick will be to discern what is passing legitimately and what should remain forever.

If we don't pay attention to this now we will be left with a religion of Avatar...believing everything and nothing at all. Oprah spirituality will be the norm. If you walked out of the theatre feeling like you just saw something that was at once incredible and troubling you know what I mean. It was laced with meaning but terribly hard to decipher. The fact that Avatar has grossed over 730 million domestically and estimates that top 3 billion worldwide means the message is being delivered. The reality is people will be bombarded with a plethora of 'spiritual' overtones as we go forward. To ignore the situation is to hide our head in the sand. We must think this through or we will wake up empty. A house built on sand will fall. A faith built on archaic concepts will not stand.

Christianity is changing. It must or it will be shelved. To me this is good news. I still believe the best wine is poured out last in the story I have come to love and trust. God is not in His heaven, His realm, pacing, wringing his hands and mumbling 'what am I ever going to do about postmodernity, or deconstructionism, or foreign religions touching my story'. He is at ease, at peace, at shalom. None of these things that stress us out theologically are the least threatening to Him. In the end he will have his family. The exile will be over. We will sit down at table and tabernacle together.

I will be home again.

Countless people have asked me if I would ever plant a church again. I never answer that question easily. If I could be part of a church with fewer pillars that was comfortable with morphing without being tossed by every gust of wind...then I might.

 

A Place to Begin Again: An Emerging Manifesto

God

I believe in one holy and sovereign God who eternally exists, who from love and for his glory created all things out of nothing and pronounced them good. God is at one time male and female yet without gender.

Revelation

I believe that God has revealed himself in the verbally inspired Scriptures of the Old Testament through the overarching story of a people he created and called to Himself in love.  They came to be known as 'the Israelites'. These scriptures often known as the Tanakh (Jewish scriptures combing the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) speak of their story. The prophets in particular reveal God’s pathos, and express their struggles to understand who God 'is'. It is a grand story that finds a climax in perplexing silence that lasts over four hundred years prior to the breaking in of the words of John the Baptist.

In a final, surprising revelation, God expresses himself in human form being found in Jesus Christ who sought to illuminate the way for the people of God. This revelation is spoke of in the books contained in the New Testament. They find form as witness, commentary, and/or explanation of His message.

Humanity

I believe that God directly created Adam and Eve in his image, but they lost their original place when they ate of the tree which opened their world to evil and it's cancerous effects.  As a result of the decision to eat of that tree they were exiled from the garden. The reason is simple; evil could not exist in God's dimension. Now every human that draws the breath of life is born under Adam and Eve's legacy, that is, under exile. What was once made for eternal was destined for temporal as understood in the final inglorious act named death. Death is the state of being temporal or temporary and is the great adversary of human life.

Jesus Christ

I believe that God became human to reestablish a tarnished reputation amongst the people of the world and to make good on His word, His promise to His people, who are referred to through many metaphors including familial terms such as His bride, His children, His beloved, His wife. This human was given the name Jesus and the title of Messiah or Deliverer.  Jesus Christ functioned as a prophet in his expression of the heart of God, as a priest in His purposeful lying down of his life, as a conqueror in His effectual power to destroy the effects of evil, and deliverer by giving people a new way back into God's presence.

Jesus accomplished what Israel could not by being faithful to God's promise even until the end. He, being God, understood that He constituted a new family with Himself as the cornerstone, the symbolic and spiritual mother and father of a 'new people and new creation'. He became Isreal the beloved of God. His resurrection on the first day of the week speaks of that new age and day. When Jesus arose bodily he established a means for reconciliation of Himself and restoration of His children whom are born of the life giving Spirit. The Spirit is the Voice of creativity which hovers over the existence of all of life. There is only one set apart, that is, holy, spirit which exists and is the spark of all that is. When God in heaven interlocks with the Jesus of earth the spark ignites and new life results.

Salvation

I believe that the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, a crucial time in the Jewish story, to establish the church; that he uses the revealed and particular story to give new life to those who believe (assensus, fidelity, fiduciary, and viseo) in Christ; and that only and all who trust solely in Christ’ are united with Christ, adopted into the family of God, forgiven of their sin, indwelt and illuminated by the Spirit, and given assurance of their right to come into the presence of God and find place at the table of God, a symbolic means of expressing family and welcome. They are in the church which is essentially the family.

The Church

I believe that the one, holy, and universal church is the body of Christ on earth.  The church originally named as assembly, but in these days understood as manifest through time and space, is present on the earth in history during this age, and is future in the coming age. It consists of all who have received and found place in Christ. Successive assemblies gather to celebrate the good news proclaimed through the preaching of the word, prayer, fellowship, and the ordinances of baptism signifying new life and unity with Christ and the Lord’s Supper symbolizing participation in the emerging story of God and deliverance from the effect of evil in the age to come. The assemblies disperses to proclaim that same gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to a fallen world which must hear this particular and distinct story in order to be released from captivity.  The church emanates from the union of God explained in this one particular story. The church makes disciples of Jesus who embody the kingdom and family values of loving neighbor, serving those in need, and caring for creation and so anticipate the redemption of all things at God's return.

The Return of Christ

I believe that Jesus Christ will personally, bodily, and gloriously return at any moment to consummate his covenant by delivering this world from the legacy of death and giving rebirth to the legacy of life. When Jesus symbolically grasps the cup at the wedding feast the kingdom comes in all its glory. God will raise the dead who have stepped into His story through the resurrection of all things in Christ physically, inviting them to place at the final banquet of God, a feast of celebration, and a sign of eternal peace and good will.

 

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