How I Came to Appreciate Lent

Here we are in Lent and I am among the heathens who did not go to any formal Ash Wednesday service, still drinking coffee, eating meat, and listening to U2’s new album non-stop.  Later, I’ll post on what I am doing for Lent.  

As most of my friends know, I come from a conservative Protestant background.  Lent was deemed a “Catholic thing”, and we all knew what that meant.  Well, actually we didn’t, that’s why we are so interested in it now.  There are many beautiful aspects of the way the Catholics (and main-line churches) celebrate their faith.  And while there are reasons why I am not Catholic (and fewer of not being a main-liner), among them, you don’t need to be Catholic to observe the practices of the Church prior to the Reformation, I am grateful for the many beautiful traditions they celebrate and practice.  Among my hopes is that they too would be blessed by many of the Protestant aspects as well. 

I think some of my evangelical Protestant friends believe that Lent was invented just 10 years ago with this emerging church thing.  It came right along with Lecto-Divina, Henry Nouwen, and the Holy Spirit.  For some, they just won’t get it.  That’s fine, there are a lot of things that I don’t get (like country music), and I am content that they practice their faith the way that Spirit leads them.

The first church I began working at observed the Advent-Lenten seasons.  It was an independent, conservative, Protestant church and its doctrinal statement is virtually identical in terms of belief to where I serve now.   Combined with the emergent books that I started reading then, it’s not that great of a mystery that I haven’t given up these traditions.  That’s interesting to me but I’ll move on.  Each year, we would have an Ash Wednesday service where we would actually perform the imposition of ashes.  We even used the palm branches from last year and mixed them with oil that was from a catalog that had a picture of the Holy Lands on it (we weren’t complete suckers).  Truth be told, it was one of my favorite services and one year, the senior pastor was too ill and I had the honor of leading it.

It is clear to me how observing Lent has blessed my celebration of Easter.  In all honesty, I was glad to leave that church but God showed us a lot during those 5 years.  Combined with the great friendships we made, the experiences we had, and connecting with some of these traditions were a great blessing to me and I am grateful to continue in some way.  An example includes the worshipful moment of doing Ash Wednesday in our Senior High youth group last night.  (Maybe I’ll mention that later.)

If you haven’t, I’d like to encourage you to do something for Lent, even if you begin today or next week. Whether it be reading a devotional, giving up something or serving in some new capacity or the many other ideas, I think you will find it beautiful in connecting it to this time where we reflect on the cost of our sins and the resurrection of our Savior.


Monday Morning Brief 2.23.09 (on this fine Tuesday)

I know it’s Tuesday, but it still has the spirit of a leftover Monday.

Highlights of the week –  All is well, I suppose.  The family is healthy and happy, Wed. night youth group went well, Lost was great, learning a lot in the Pete Enns class (I really do love my seminary).  I even enjoyed the Academy Awards this year.  Good call giving it to Heath (I was one of the 30 million people to call that).  I’m thankful things are ok.

Disappointed by 1. still stupid Aroid.  I knew when he started talking about his cousin and getting the substances from the Dominican that this would not be good.  Did you not listen to Andy Pettite?  Come clean, be done with it. 2. The Office reruns.  Are the writers on strike again?  Because even the new ones aren’t that great.  By chance, are these the same writers who were on Heroes last season?

Reading: Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher Wright.  Like Evan said on his post, it’s pretty good.  I may blog about it but I always say that and never do.  There’s a bunch of books, magazines, and blogs that I have either a bookmark in or a link for.  

Listening to: the new U2 cd No Line on the Horizon.  March 3 cannot come soon enough.  You can listen to it on myspace.  It’s one of the few reasons to go on that site. So far one of my favorite lines is: 

“Can stand up for hope, faith, love

But while I’m getting over certainty

Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady” in “Stand up Comedy”.  That Bono!

Also listening to Homebrewed Christianity podcast with Walter Bruggeman from back in October.  Oh, and the new Paul Coleman cd is growing on me.  The first track “If I was Jesus” is pretty good.

Laughed a lot About:  1. I was sitting at Border’s doing some work and a dad was helping his son with his homework.  The son was a little frustrated and said, “Dad I can’t read too good.”  I thought to myself, “Of all the days to leave my business cards of Derrick Zoolander’s School For Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Do Other Stuff Good Too”.  I’m an idiot for forgetting them.  I forgot my 4 Spiritual Laws tracts too so I hope they don’t say, “What must we do to be saved?” .  Oh wait, I have those Testamints.  I hope we’re lucky enough to get the Romans Road out of them.

2.  Jaquin Phoenix on the Letterman show. Is it in act?  He’s a good actor but just because Mickey Rourke recovered from drugs and oblivion doesn’t mean he may recover from looking like a weirdo.


NYC Cohort Luncheon with Jay Bakker and Vince Anderson

A few days ago, I attended a luncheon meeting of the New York Emergent cohort (led by Peter Heltzel).  With the pace of life, we do not meet often enough but when we do it’s special.  We were fortunate enough to have Jay Bakker and Vince Anderson from Revolution NYC come and share with us about their work in Brooklyn, what they are focusing on, what they’ve found challenging, and they shared a bit about themselves too.  Jay did a lot of the talking but I’d like to begin with Vince. 

Vince felt called to drop out of seminary (something that God has probably called others to do but few are willing to obey), and ventured out to discover what God was leading him towards.  Eventually, he played piano and sang at a bar in Brooklyn.  His use of spiritual songs landed him the name “Reverend Vince”.  This is the best part, upon getting to know him, people figured out that this “reverend” title was more than a stage name and so they started asking him spiritual questions, sought counseling, and asked him to perform weddings, funerals and some brought him into their lives. He’s been doing that for 15 years. While I know there are some pastors who stay that long, we know it’s becoming increasingly less.  Today he serves as one of the pastors at The Revolution, he’s an activist, works at the Salvation Army and is involved in his community in a variety of ways.

Then there is Jay Bakker.  What I like about Jay is that he talks about his parents and is proud of them.  He told beautiful stories of his dad and his late mother.  As one who grew up in conservative circles, I knew about the tragic time that Baker family went through.  What I love about them, is that like me, they were flawed, but like me, they were/are redeemed by God’s grace.  If you want to talk about redemption, talk to Jay Bakker, he’s got a great story.  

I appreciated Jay’s openness with us.  There seemed to be a time when he could have written his own ticket, cashed in, played the game, and probably been on the cover of more magazines, had more books, and who knows what else.  But it seems that he is unwilling to compromise what some of that would have cost him and while he still may erupt on to the mainstream (whatever that means), it looks like it will because he went in a direction more true to himself.  I love these stories for the same reasons why I like a lot of independent music (and movies), they’re great stories of struggle, hope, and pardon me for repeating myself, but they are great stories of redemption.

They’re doing good work at The Revolution.  It’s not easy and I don’t think many people in their neighborhood know who Jay Bakker is, which is probably refreshing for him. It seems that they are not well-funded, they had a combination of blockbuster and a few poorly attended events, they are not bursting at the seams with people, but they are an active church.   They have many regulars and many visitors each week and while more people could potentially ruin the intimate season they are in now, they are studying Scripture, praying together, and seeking God’s Kingdom.  Sounds like a beautiful ministry to me.


You Saw it Here … Second Last

U2 to take over Letterman Show for a week starting March 2.  I tell you, if they took over Fox News or The View or even Hannah Montana, I’d tune in.

The other week Chrisitanity Today interviewed Derek Cooper who wrote  So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary: An Insider’s Guide.  Derek is one of our adjunct profs at Biblical Seminary and ridiculously brilliant.  Here’s an exert: 

What is the biggest misconception about seminaries?

There are generally two. First, those who attend seminary assume that one of seminary’s main purposes is to provide the answer to this or that great biblical or theological question. Instead of understanding seminary or theological education in terms of a mathematical formula to be solved, however, it is more like a tension-filled narrative that is to be lived out. Seminaries, in other words, are better at asking questions than answering them.

Second, those who do not attend seminary assume that only people called to the pastorate or some other full-time Christian ministry are encouraged or even eligible to attend seminary. The truth is, however, that seminaries are filled with students who will pursue a variety of professions after graduation. (more)

The other week Jen from our cohort emailed this youtube clip.  Meant to post it sooner but I forgot it in the draft folder.  I know you are inundated with a “million must see this youtube clip”.  This is only “must-see” if you are interested in the future … of the world.  If you live in the past, or you if you are an incredible optimist, don’t worry about it, you can click here for a rerun of the Saved By the Bell.  Otherwise, click below.


Shane Claiborne posted “When Jesus and Justice Kiss” at the end of January on the Sojourners site.  

“I just got back from a trip to Australia where I was saw folks fall in love with Jesus, the real Jesus, for the first time… and with the innocence of a kid at the altar in a big tent revival, fell on their knees with tears going down there cheeks for they found had found their Lover. It was a revival.”    

“(We) …set up a shanty-town, cardboard slum on the steps of Parliament to bring attention to the folks being displaced around the world …”

“Can you imagine if our North American Christian conferences had a witness on the streets like that? In the middle of it all, I had one person come up to me and say – “if this is what Christianity is, then sign me up.” In this notoriously non-Christian country, I was proud to be part of a witness that showed folks a Christianity worth believing in, good news they could see and touch and feel.”

I think I’m find some more service project weekend ideas here.

The Monday Brief 2.16.09

Highlights of the Week– 1.  Going out for Valentine’s was fun.  Nathan likes our babysitter and Susan and I went out for dinner and a movie.  It’s not a cliché if you never go.  2. Started our new class with Pete Enns.  I am only a novice at theology but I love that my seminary brings these great profs.  3.  Connecting with my senior pastor  4. Grateful to be on this staff.  5. For those interested, the sermon I preached last week is available here (Thanks Eric).  If you are in my seminary cohort, you heard most of this message before.  I did take a number of suggestions and “softened” some of it  Thanks.  6. Loving Lost.  7. Pitchers and Catchers reporting but though I am excited to play fantasy baseball this year, I’m growing increasingly frustrated with …

Disappointed by – 1. the A-Roid Scandal, the other 103 names on whatever that list is, Mitchell Report, Bud Selig, the government, and almost everyone connected with MLB.  2. The stimulus package.  Sounds unimpressive to me but I don’t know economics. 

Enjoyed listening to – Homebrewed Christianity Podcast interview of musician Bill Mallonee of the Vigilantes of Love.  I only remember him because my friend and true indie artist Andy Zipf mentioned that he liked him and they were both in a Paste music contest last year.  Last week’s relevant podcast.  Went back and grabbed some Ray Lamotagne.  I love Trouble but have been listening to Till the Sun Turns Black.  

Reading – Preaching the Whole Bible as Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy, a handful of magazines and a bunch of blogs. 

Youth Ministry Update –  1.  Week 2 of our They Like Jesus But Not the Church went well. Excellent discussions but we can’t fit it all in.  2. So far we have 8 students for our mission trip and 4 adults.  This year we are going to be building cabins for a camp that hosts those with HIV/AIDS outside of Nassau, Bahammas.  Prior to which, we will be headed to YS’ DC-LA.  We have a lot of work and fundraising ahead of us.

Looking forward to – 1. An easier couple of weeks (or so they seem from this perspective). 2. Going to the Amidst the Powers Conference in Toronto with Evan and … who else wants to go?  

What the Bible Says About Tattoos

During youth group this week, there was a moment during our discussion of the lesson of “They Like Jesus But Not the Church” (by Dan Kimball) where I would have liked to have pursued but the rabbit trail would have taken too long and lately, I’ve been easily sidetracked.  Fortunately I have a blog and today, I need a diversion from my school work. 

We were discussing tattoos and whether getting one was contradictory to the Bible. I asked are tattoos sinful?”  and received somewhat mixed comments.  “What if you got a tattoo that said ‘Jesus Saves'”?  and one responded to the effect of “Yeah, that would be lame and so it would be wrong”.  (I cannot tell you the pride that swelled my heart.  Apparently someone has been listening).

Most of you reading are not strangers to the faith and as you know it all started when God and Abraham were discussing the covenant and they were talking about some kind of sign or seal or mark. Thus, God asked Abraham to get a tattoo but Abraham knowing that was wrong asked God if circumcision would be acceptable instead.  God sarcastically smiled and agreed that would be much better.  And here we are. 

For those of  you who don’t know me, I don’t have any tattoos (yet) so aside from the one I made my wife get of my name inside a heart on her arm, I don’t have a tattoo culture that I feel I need to maintain.  Not that one can be objective in the matter but the tattoo discussion probably matters to others more so then me. 

Or does it? I loathe it when people say that Christians ought not to get tattoos.  Or the classic moment when we discover someone in our church has a tattoo, the comment I often hear is, “She must have gotten that before she got saved”.  I always want to say to my “born-againer” friend, “No she didn’t. She’s been a believer her entire life and she just got that tattoo after our mission trip.”  Usually this sidetracks to a safer conversation of when salvation actually begins.  See how I get on these rabbit trails?  I repent and turn back to the discussion on tattoos.

This is what I don’t want:  It’s my conviction that God is not any more glorified by my tattoo-less body.  Nor is He glorified by your six-pack abs, nor is He as apathetic to the extra weight that reflects our gluttony and lack of self-control.  He is not glorified when we look down on those who have piercings nor is He impressed with the connection of nose piercings and Jesus’ piercings from the cross.  To put it kindly, I think some of us may have missed the point on this. 

My problem with tattoos is that my tastes and preferences change throughout the years.  For me, I’m afraid that I will regret it later.  This is similar to the reason I haven’t bought a Blue-Ray disc player and why I feel justified because I was one of the 6.7 billion who didn’t buy a Microsoft Zune.  Further, it’s why I made my wife sign a pre-nuptial agreement before I headed into the lucrative career of youth ministry (or was that her idea?  I should ask her about that.  Anyway, where was I?)  Oh yeah, if only some of us could be as faithful to our tattoos as to the people we promised to love.  Sorry if that sounded cheesy, my wife went and saw “He’s Just Not That Into You” for Valentine’s Day.  Anyway, this has nothing to do with my point.

I know there’s someone out there in cyber-world that will bring up Leviticus 19:28.  It’s part of a pretty good chapter.  Like forbidding fathers to sell their daughters to prostitution.  Which is a problem here in north Jersey.  We call it Prom Weekend and on the other weekends, we call it life as a present-day high school student. Please don’t tell me Leviticus is outdated and not applicable.  But forget teenage sex, let’s go back to talking about something more vital – tattoos. To some, it seems clear that the Leviticus passage is referring to avoiding the pagan practice common in that time period, to others it’s there in plain english, don’t mark the dead, don’t mark your own bodies.  As you recall, this is why God cursed the human race with “ink poisoning”, “graphite poisoning” and “magic marker rash”.  In our sin, we have countered with washable markers and temporary tattoos but give the good Lord some time, and He’ll trump that.  He’s too good – too good.

Years ago at a previous church I was at, this was a brief discussion that occurred after our senior pastor said something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter about your past, yours sins, etc, whether you got tattoos, Jesus can …”  and thus tattoos was presented as something to repent of.  This offended one of the choir members who had several tattoos.  As he mumbled his frustration, he had the misfortunate of sitting next to someone who had two Scriptures memorized.  One was Leviticus 18:22 and the other was this one, 19:28.  The following week we had a church picnic and I wrote Leviticus 19:28 on my tricep.  Arguably it would have looked better if I had better defined triceps, but I also wished it was a real tattoo.  My life requires me to a fan of irony.  But the offended choir member enjoyed the laugh and I’m pretty sure God and Moses high-fived each other as they sat on their Harely’s watching the Earth Channel on the Crystal See Network.  

But that’s not where I was going with this.  Pardon me as I begin again, or rededicate myself to the post.  My preferences do change, but certainly this is not a reason for YOU not to get a tattoo.  However, if you have to ask me to be sure you want to permanently mark your body (yes, I am aware of the extremely costly laser tattoo removal process hence for us not wealthy people, I maintain the use of the word ‘permanently’), then you might want to consider what I am saying.  For those of you who know that you know that you know that you know, I know someone you can place your trust in.  He uses clean needles and I’m told he’s a very talented artist.  Oh wait, before I give you that tract, err, business card, let’s consider what the Bible says about tattoos.

(insert the sound of pages flipping here)

Nothing there – ok here’s the card.

Reflecting on Colson's comments regarding Obama, abortion and postmodernism

Chuck Colson wrote on his breakpoint post yesterday (No God Condones What) that the breakdown of today’s society is based on postmodernism:


At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, President Obama seemed to signal that he has seen the light and is abandoning his radically pro-abortion agenda. At least, that’s the only reasonable conclusion one could make after hearing the President, who says he’s a Christian, also say: “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.”


So I could only surmise that the President now concludes that “no God” would condone the 1.6 million abortions performed each year in America—1.6 million innocent lives destroyed.  But I’ve checked the White House website, and it’s very clear that God’s disapproval hasn’t changed the administration’s agenda one bit.


Here’s what the White House website says: “President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Administration.”


Well, in one way I’m glad I wasn’t at the breakfast this year—I was speaking instead at Moody—because I’m not sure I would have been able to stay in my seat.


How can a President of the United States say that “there is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being,” when he himself favors a woman’s right to have an abortion under virtually every circumstance? How can he say that, when, as an Illinois state senator, he voted against the Illinois Induced Infant Liability Act, which would have protected the lives of babies who survived late-term abortions? When he even had the audacity to describe the act as “One more burden on a woman . . . I can’t support.”


President Obama is a highly intelligent man with a huge job on his hands. I know what the White House is like, and I pray for him fervently every day. But how does such an intelligent man make a statement like this without understanding its implications for his own pro-abortion policies?


The only way to explain it is to understand the intellectual environment, called postmodernism, in which President Obama and his peers have been raised. Generations of Americans have now been taught that truth is subjective. You have your truth, I have mine. And, even worse, I can’t “inflict” my version of truth on you. The law of non-contradiction has been suspended.


So politicians can tell us over and over that they can’t allow their personal faith to affect their views on public policy. Or they can take two completely opposing positions at the same time: like believing that no God condones the taking of innocent life and at the same time, condoning—even promoting—the taking of an innocent life.


The problem isn’t simply President Obama and his views on life; the problem is a postmodern culture which believes that truth is merely a matter of opinion, and that therefore the sanctity of innocent human life is simply an expression of one viewpoint among many.


I have argued for the last 20 years that postmodernism would lead to the unraveling or our society. The fact that so few noticed the contradiction in what the President said and the policies he pursues tells me that we’re far along in the unraveling process.”



Now first, there is a lot I appreciate about Chuck Colson but it’s these statements that frustrate me because I do not find them to be fair.  Call it whatever you want, but the modern evangelical culture, or the infamous 1950’s or the “Good Ol’ Days” were not the days of the Garden of Eden. 

Second, I am not an Obama fan-boy (but I will support the president).  My convictions are pro-life but I do not want to villianize every person who either believes in pro-choice or has had an abortion.  And while I wish everyone would be pro-life, I think these typical statements made by Colson have failed as a starting point and only serve to rally like-minded individuals. At the same time, I wish those that are pro-choice but also hate abortion would at the very least, participate in pursuing ways to limit the number of abortions.  

Colson is a brilliant, well-educated righteous man.  I do not presume nor dare to correct such a godly man, but with all due respect, postmodernism is not the problem, the selfishness of the human condition is .. and this is not new. 

This is part of the problem with how we as conservative believers engage the world.  It seems to me that we refuse to actually engage the world.  It’s like we’re saying, “We’ll play basketball with you, but we’re not going to acknowledge this 3 point line thing, or this shot clock thing because we used to not have it and we liked the game better then.” 

Yes I know this analogy is not sensitive to the complexities of culture but if we are serious about engaging others, we need to do more then point the finger.  I’m not going to make it another four years if all I am getting from my conservative leaders is negative sound-bytes and pessimistic daily readings.   

My input is that we need to get realistic of how “good” days of old were.  Second, then, we should forget about them (because they are not a standard of entitlement).  Third, engage the culture we are in Christ-like ways.  Fourth, learn to handle the disappointments in Christ-like ways (I could use some extra grace on this one) and lastly, be believers who are committed in pursuing the Kingdom over personal preference or agenda.

Monday Brief – 2.9.09

Highlights of the week –  1. Nathan said “dada” a couple of times.  Though I don’t think he has any idea of what it means or that I am “dada”, but it was nice to hear.  2.  I was grateful that my sermon was well-received this week. 3. There were some real good moments during and the days after our Pastor-Parent Night.  Some really connected by what we’re trying to do and I’m grateful for that even those these can be tough nights. 

Disappointed by – 1. A-Roid.  Seriously, if you’re still taking steroids in 2003, then you’re stupid.   I write as an angry baseball fan not as a rational person.  2. Further disappointed by the lack of Christian love I see in some.  We cannot argue for the need of Scripture if we are arguing in such a way that completely undermines Scripture.  I write as a frustrated Christ-follower not as a pastor who is towing the company line.  3. Disappointed by my own lack own personal failures.  I write as a humbled child of God not as a self-righteous “prig” (to borrow a word from Lewis).

Youth Ministry Update – continued to hear positive feedback about our winter retreat following our student leadership team meeting.   We mentioned a couple improvements that we all agreed we can make.  2. This week we started Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church.  It’s based on a video curriculum and it’s pretty good.  The first week’s video was a series of clips of what university students thought of Jesus and what they thought of Christians.  Obviously it supported the theme of the study.  The other clip showed was in regards to the “Christian Bubble”.  We had good discussion regarding that. 3. Working on our mission trip to help rebuild cabins for those suffering from HIV/AIDS in the Bahamas. 

Reading – Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldwsorthy  and a couple other things, current issue of Relevant magazine and current issue of Leadership Magazine. 

Listening to – I’ve been on quite a Bob Dylan kick lately.  Also have gone back to the Arcade Fire (both Funerals and Neon Bible) and Jars of Clay (Good Monsters).  Yeah, I suppose there’s a bit odd but paradox keeps the mind from getting bored.  

Also this week I – 1. Enjoyed a few moments of the Grammys like Radiohead’s performance with the USC marching band.  2. Found something even more boring then hockey – the Pro Bowl.  3. Read an interview with Lebron James that he wanted to be the first athlete to make a billion dollars.  I can get past many things with professional athletes but as cool as Lebron is, that was lame to say. 4. So I rooted for Kobe on Sunday when they played against each other. 5. I renewed my commitment to joining our fantasy baseball league by looking  at one of those baseball magazines at Borders – pitchers and catchers report this Friday.

Ask Not if Pete Rollins Believes the Resurrection, Ask If he’s Made a Good Point.

Pete Rollins was asked if he believed in the resurrection during a time of presentation and discussion at Calvin College (which by the way, I think it’s great that Calvin invited him).  He blogs his answer and many are still talking about it.  Like many, I read it on my RSS Feeder and my first thought was, “Here we go again”,  second was, “He really does this paradox thing well.”  I loved Thomas’ (who just had a post picked on The High Calling blog) post about it yesterday and it’s been brought to my attention a couple of times now too (and I suppose I may have brought it to a few people’s attention as well).

Thomas got me thinking though.  After the Mid-Atlantic Conference he sat in my living room and we conversed and he was gracious enough to listen to my questions.  I’m not name-dropping here, he talks to anyone.  Anyway,  to one he responded, “I think it’s crazy if people take me too seriously.  I’m just trying to add a point here and there …”  Now maybe that was an understatement, but I appreciated that he didn’t say something like, “People need to wake up and listen to what I am saying …” and act as if he had it all figured out.  Because he writes/speaks from that humble posture, I think it’s wise to, at the very least, consider the point he’s trying to make.  Like the point that Bono was making when he dressed up as MacPhisto (the devil-character he created on the Zoo TV tour, he wasn’t endorsing the devil but quite the opposite).  In fact, if Rollins has a problem is that this thought is not original though he just does a great job in echoing it today.  Paul says in I Corinthians 13, that “…  but have not love then I am but only  a clanging cymbal.” 

I do not know really the context nor the person who asked the question.  For all I know, it could have been Sam Harris or John McArthur or Brian McLaren or a student  or professor.  It could have even been one of Pete’s friends planted in the crowd to give us something to blog about it.  In my history of attending conferences, numerous times there has been the person that wants to “expose” the speaker as a heretic. Then there’s the guy who needs to ask these questions in order to trust the speaker.  I’ve been that guy, may we be given wisdom for the journey.  But to the former, I remind you to be careful that you do not resemble the Pharisees that were trying to trap Jesus (like in John 8).

Now I’m told that Pete does believe in the literal, physical resurrection (so there are two of you reading this that are relieved), but what if he didn’t believe or stops believing it one day or stops one day and believes it again on another?  While I want to say that it would be an utter shame if he didn’t believe it, I think another shame is to miss this point.

Regarding his statement, I believe his argument is valid.  What point is it to believe in the resurrection if we don’t believe in all the words of the One that was raised?  What point is it to believe in the One that encompassed perfect love if we don’t share it in witness in the forms of words and action?  What point is it to believe in the abundant life, if we ignore those barely living and dying around us? 

I believe the Spirit uses that answer even if Pete denies the resurrection to promote the resurrection!  Let me ask it in this way. Can we not gain from his point? I say from my perspective he’s wrong on that point while he may be right that I neglect the needs around me, thereby demonstrating his point!

Let’s forget about this hyper-caffeinated, Irish philosopher for a second.   How important is the resurrection to us as believers?   We may be quick to say that it’s the central tenant of our faith but is it? Here’s something interesting to me, I wonder how many more people would believe in the resurrection if we did in fact care more for the marginalized in the many, many ways they appear.  Is this not a great conversation?

Reviewing Metavista: Bible, Church, and Mission in an Age of Imagination

Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination by Colin Greene & Martin Roinson

Who Will Like This Book (or might not) – Those that want to see church, culture and history from further out.  Whether you feel you are educated enough in it or not, if you have a high appreciation for history, you will really appreciate it.  If you are not into the emerging church authors (like McLaren, Jones, Pagitt, Keel, etc.), I think it would be beneficial to hear these words from those that do not identify with the movement.  If you are a friend of emergent, I think this book is very beneficial as well.  Having been in the emerging discussion, this is among the things that are humbly encouraged, read a lot of other stuff  (emergent plug – none of us feel we’ve cornered the market on pomo thought).

Who Won’t (or might not) – Those who have less appreciation for context and require Biblical proof texting; those who don’t understand where the history of philosophy fits in; those who think that the timeline of Christian literature went from the canonization of the New Testament, a few church fathers, Calvin, then John Piper while ignoring the millions of other voices throughout the past several thousand years  (I write that last one to a specific caricature, don’t mean to offend).

What I Found Difficult – I really enjoyed reading this book and I didn’t see skimming as an option.  Because of this, there’s a lot to read here.  Perhaps it was my attention span but I really wanted to remember what I read (what a new idea), so it was just one of these books where you really needed to take the necessary time and read.  Thus, you may not like it, if you’re not able to commit the time to it. 


What I Loved –  I was a fan from the introduction.  Seriously, it’s one of those books that if you love the introduction, you’ll probably like the book.  I didn’t feel let down as I continued reading the book though it was grappling with extremely difficult topics.


While reading through it, I appreciated all the quotes from those like Augustine, Kierkegaard, Brueggemann, Newbigin, Caputo, (even Bono is quoted), and many others.  I felt it connected me to the thoughts and ideas of so many others.  For those like myself who have a scattered interest in a lot of things, I appreciate books that contain histories and summations from the greats that have come before.


There are so many books to read, so many to recommend, I’d like to sell you on this one. 

Here’s a preview and table of contents:

What is metavista? – “… a relatively unclaimed space or clearing” (xxix).



1. Modernity: Legacies that Remain

2. Postmodernity: A Matrix of Meanings – This chapter begins, “In his book Postmodernism for Beginners” Richard Appignanesi suggests that the postmodern is something unavoidable.  His candid assessment is that the modern is always historically at war with what comes immediately before it” (25).

(Why I like it –  As been told to me countless times, I too keep trying to convince people that the idea of postmodernism is more than a philosophy but an age, specifically a response to modernism.)

3. Metavista: Discerning the Rules of Engagement – deals with many issues from voice, representation to power.

4. Metavista: Naming the Post-modern Condition – consumerism, post-colonialism, secularization, individualism (to name a few).


Part 2

5. Cultural Engagement and the Refiguring of the Scriptures – narratives and indwelling

6. Constructing a Biblical Theology for Cultural Engagement – demonstrates that postmoderns can be Christians ;-)

7. Metavista:  The Political Capital of the Bible in Cultural Engagement – umm, well, Greene likes Hauerwas.   Though this book is written from a European perspective, I think this chapter is helpful for American readers (especially Christian conservatives) interested in politics and culture.


Part 3

8. Deconstructing the Secular Imagination – the strength and weakness of secularization and its effect on religion

9. Imagining the Missional Community – Includes some big topics of the Modern West’s Christendom such as evangelical renewal, programmatic responses, emergent church, and offers humble conclusions.

10. Reimagining a Counter-cultural Life – one of my favorite chapters in the book.

11. Towards a Hermeneutic of Imagination – public theology, missional imagination and the pride of Biblical Seminary, John Franke is quoted here.

12. Conclusion and Beyond – calls for a new manifesto