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Thursday, December 01, 2016

perichoretic and polycentric church structure

 Ask ten random churchfolk:

 "What are the practical implications of the Trinity for church structure?"

After the first few responders offer blank stares, maybe one will catch something profound (like these folks), and as the Q man (Quentin P. Kinnison) does below in a highly-recommended book.

From a section  headed Trinitarian Implications for Church Structures: 

...From Trinitarian themes, an ecclesiology forms which expresses serious concern regarding the specia;ization of ministry.  Any specialized ministry in the church occurs within the ministry of all members--the universal priesthood of all believers.

...Viewing the relations of the Trinity as  complementary  perichoretic  subjects, Volf concludes that ecclesial structures must be viewed as complementary and egalitarian. Therefore, he forcefully states:

If one starts from the Trinitarian model  I have suggested, then the structure of ecclesial unity cannot be conceived by way of the one, be it the pope, the patriarch or the bishop. Every ecclesial unity held together by a mon-archy, by a "one-[man!]-rule,  is monistic and thus  also un-trinitarian.
In such a church, the Charismata are recognized as universally distributed and are practiced by all in a "polycentric community" where members are participative, fulfilling their calling to serve God and the community in God's mission.
-Quentin P. Kinnison, Transforming Pastoral Leadership: Reimagaining Congregational Leadership for Changing Contexts, pp. 83-84 

For more on what polycentrism might mean, see pp. 96-99 of the book.
Yes, buy it now!
 I am intrigued by how best to draw/chart out  polycentric.
 Here are some starting points from Google Images.
Or maybe  this could be attempted through set theory. See:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lord's Supper sans supper: a skeleton outside of real life, kissing grandma under a half-built bridge

Charles Kraft:

The Lord's Supper [is] probably the most potentially meaningful of the codes regularly employed within Christianity, at least when it is practiced as a full meal.

When, however, the Lord's Supper is practiced (as in most of Western Christianity) as  a skeleton ritual with precious little resemblance  to a participatory meal  (or to any other part of real life), the communication value is radically altered.  The excessive ritualization of such a code destroys its value by pushing the experience to an extreme diametrically  opposite that of the example above...enacting the drama is such a way that it was [incorrectly] interpreted as real life.

In the case of the excessive ritualization of the Lord's Supper, the communication value is lost (or at least radically changed) when it bears no resemblance to anything else in the participants' experience.  This means that our attempts to interpret the event via analogy with other life experiences are frustrated.  But since we are taught that God commands us to do it, we tend to interpret the strange, unique thing as sacred and magical.  That is, we interpret this meaningless ritual as we interpret any meaningless ritual (e.g. kissing grandma)--as required by the one in charge (in this case God) and entered into to please him rather than as a participatory experience..

...Since eating together already exists as a meaningful code within the society, all that needs to be done is to practice the Lord's Supper as a real meal (as the early church did).  This would allow the sacramental significance of the activity to develop naturally from the associations between it and real life, on the one hand, and between it and the  historical experience of Jesus with the disciples, on the other.

These [dead codes} (like poor Bible translations) are like bridges halfway across a river that require the receptors to build their own half from the opposite bank if they are to be able to make use of the part of the bridge that has been built.
-Charles H. Kraft, Communication Theory for Christian Witness,  pp 115-116

"every time the culture changes, the church becomes unfaithful..."

"Which Atonement? How Scripture Speaks Anew to Each Generation" by Len Hjalmarson

....The dominant view of atonement for the first 300 years of the Church was not Penal Substitution, but Christus Victor. Jesus death and resurrection made him Lord, and established him as sole victor over the forces of death and destruction. Jesus death was a ransom paid to the devil. The Penal Substitution view was there in Scripture, but the early church was less interested in that view. Under Anselm in the 11th century the Church changed position, and began to put its weight on the other foot. It was the legal and forensic climate of those times that provoked the switch.

In other words, it was a cultural shift that provoked a theological shift. That’s a pretty important point, because we are in a time when culture is changing dramatically, and here we are having a lot of theological debates.

We could conclude from this that every time the culture changes, the church becomes unfaithful. Or, more wisely, we could conclude that when the culture shifts God speaks in new language..

.....Scot McKnight expands on the meaning of reconciliation by listing the atonement metaphors.
 He writes:
"Atonement language includes several evocative metaphors: there is a sacrificial metaphor (offering), and a legal metaphor (justification), and an interpersonal metaphor (reconciliation), and a commercial metaphor (redemption) and a military metaphor (ransom). Each is designed to carry us to the thing. But the metaphor is not the thing. The metaphor gives the reader or hearer an imagination of the thing, a vision of the thing, a window onto the thing, a lens through which to look in order to see the thing. Metaphors take us there, but they are not the 'there.'"

Well said! We are prone, when we don't recognize the way language and symbols work, to mistake the menu for the meal. It then becomes nearly impossible to actually talk about how and why we do theological work, because we are too busy defending our symbols. And atonement debate is mostly theology – not Scripture, but language that interprets what we read in the Scripture, and language that represents the dominant understanding in our faith communities.

And what do you know? Both major views – the early and the late -- can be found in a single New Testament passage in Colossians.

Penal Substitutionary: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

 Christus Victor: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (This is the next verse, Colossians 2:16)

 The dominant view of atonement for the first 300 years of the Church was Christus Victor. In the 11th century, and in the legal and forensic climate of theological thought, the Church began to put its weight on the other foot. Cultural shift provoked a theological shift. But God is the Lord of both culture and theology. When the culture shifts, old questions are asked in new ways. In response, God speaks in new language. God speaks to a new culture in new ways through the Scripture because a new culture HEARS in new ways.

To be more provocative, the voice of the Holy Spirit did not highlight the penal-substitution (PS) view for the early church. What was it about the context of the church in those days that required one approach (Christus Victor) more than the other? And is there something about our own changing world that now requires a return, or at least a much greater emphasis, on the earlier view? Might it even be possible to hold the two views side by side, like a pair of glasses, and see in 3D? Or to ask the question in reverse, why are western evangelicals so stuck on one view, to the extent that holding other views as equal provokes an emotional reaction?  ...
 continued here 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nurses rock...and lead!

Here's  “Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley, a column I submitted to our local newspaper (The Fresno Bee)'s "Valley Voices" column.  They didn't print it.  Can you guess why?  I have a theory.

They have printed me before; see a previous column they printed here:

Search ResultsSearch Results

"Some Confessions from a Christian Pastor"

Anyway..  Maybe the powers that Bee will see this and change their mind.(

PS: Video  below of me  speaking to nurses as they graduate; related to this article's theme (click the "backstory link" if you don't see video embedded below):
video backstory

“Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley” by Dave Wainscott
Dave Wainscott is pastor of Third Day Fresno, and adjunct instructor at Fresno Pacific University.

Nurses are crucial to vital, visionary leadership in our valley.

But not all nurses see themselves as leaders.

Indeed, not all nurses are always leaders.  But all nurses are sometimes leaders; and any great nurse can and will lead successfully and courageously, if…no, when… summoned for a season into leadership. Such leadership may even extend far beyond the walls and halls of their hospital or institution.

As a pastor in our valley for thirty years, and thus one who has logged countless hours at hospital bedsides catching close-up vignettes of nurse/patient interactions, I am in awe of the selfless care…and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

 As one who also teaches nursing students in the RN to BSN program at Fresno Pacific University’s various valley campuses, and thus one who has personally witnessed the astounding extra-mile commitment of hundreds of local nurses, I am in awe of the tireless tenacity…and profound leadership….that nurses provide.

As one who was has occasionally needed the services of nurses and hospitals myself,  and thus one who has willfully surrendered my healing and very life to capable nurses, I am inspired beyond words, and must brag to our valley about the relentless self-giving …and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

“Are you an angel?,” I almost asked  a nurse aloud once.  As I was finding my way out of the fog of anesthesia that accompanied a procedure, the first thing I saw upon re-entry was the unfeigned smile of a nurse, and the first voice that nurse gently calling my name.  She acted as if she had nothing else to do in that moment.  As if I was helping her.   I was not client or customer; not an annoyance or another number, but her current sacred opportunity to extend grace and practical help. It seemed her only calling in that moment was to ensure that I was oriented, alright and welcomed back to reality with extraordinary encouragement. You can see how for a split second, the thought crossed my mind that she was literally angelic.

As much as you may appreciate along with me that nurses can be helpful and even life-savers, I am aware that some are not finding my thesis that nurses make stellar leaders immediately obvious.   I invite us to consider the same thesis, as articulated by Grossman and Valica, in their exceptional book, “The New Leadership Challenge:  Creating the Future of Nursing” (F.A. Davis, 2013):

“One of the areas in which nurses are most skilled is communication.  Nurses know how to listen.  They know how to encourage people to keep trying when there seems to be no hope of success..They know how to encourage others to respond openly.  And they know how to avoid barriers to communication.  Therefore, nurses are particularly advantaged when one examines this element of leadership.
book link
The public puts a great deal of trust in nurses, and the credibility of nurses is strong in the eyes of patients, families, legislators, and the general public.  Nurses who are providing leadership would therefore do well to take advantage of this trust by communicating their vision at every opportunity.
Such opportunities are, in fact, more available than many nurses realize: serving on a committee at one’s institution or in one’s professional association, speaking at a conference, writing for a professional journal or local newspaper or organizational newsletter, meeting with a legislator, talking with patients and their families, being interviewed on a campus radio station, holding office in one’s professional organization, campaigning for a candidate or a  particular cause, confronting a healthcare team member, networking at professional meetings, forming alliances with other health care professionals, seeking and using a mentor, and so on.  We are limited only by our own imagination and our willingness to take risks.” (Grossman and Valica, p. 14)

I don’t know about you, but that exhortation resonates with me. I wish you could feel firsthand the endless potential  that Drs. Stacy Manning, Stacy Wise and Peggy Avakian  (directors of nursing and health care programs at Fresno Pacific) and I, see in “our” brave nurses.  I’m sure other local educators of nurses agree.

Allow me to use this public forum to offer heartfelt thanks for the thankless job that nurses routinely bless us with.

And allow me a throw-down; a challenge, to any nurses reading: step out, risk well;  trust and lean into your “angelic” leadership instincts.  Precisely because of your self-effacing “I’m not a leader,” you may well be summoned to a next-level leadership in your city, valley and beyond.
Lead on.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump and Jesus both seem to love racist walls, and both called a woman a dog

If that title wasn't clickbait, I don't know what is (:

                                But it's true.

Don't worry....

 It's all explained in a fantastic section of A J Swoboda's  book
 "The Dusty Ones: How Wandering Deepens Your Faith."

Click  here..


 and start reading with "A Gentile mother.."

  You won't be sorry.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven? (Rob Bell says no). Cats? (Bell says no). Ferrets? (Bell:yes). Penguins? (TBD as soon as you take David Crowder's survey)

I'm find a hidden gem from Rob that, though published, has never been quoted on the interwebs or Googled.  Let me change the course of history as soon as I hit "publish" on this post.

The first time I found a Bellism that had been missed, it  had to do with his "watermelon in the garden" thesis.

This time it has to do with a  question I once tackled years ago, in a former life, when I had a "Dear Abby"/Ask Dave column online.  It's THE question; one that has dogged many: do dogs go to heaven?

Here you go, hidden in  back of the teen edition of "Love Wins":

Of course, we know his theology on cats (they apparently don't make it, as God didn't even make them) from this clip. (:
Gee, for someone being accused of being a universalist (which he denies, watch this), it's nice to know he can exclude.  (:
-Cat and DogTheology
-Another overlooked  and unGoogled classic:the credits/copyright  page of David Crowder's book.  I wonder how many think they've read ever word of the book, and never caught this life-changer.
And it has to do with a bias  towards penguins.

Bono and Peterson's Psalms film follow-up

Of course, the recent film of Bono and Eugene Peterson on the psalms  was fantastic.
But one can't help what cutting edge quotes were left on the cutting room floor;
what  takeaways between takes were take away.
(I remember reading about a Disney film where what some saw as the best seven minutes of the film were cut, as they didn't fit the flow).

I knew there would be some leaks (re-leaked below) .
But I didn't know I would get my  2004 question of the first questions in my first post on this blog ("Does Bono read Brueggemann?")..,
                                  and I didn't even have to meet Bono to ask him.

First, from Scot Calhoun's post, "Behind The Scenes: More From Bono & Friends On The Psalms":

David Taylor’s two meetings with Bono left him thinking Bono was “frightfully intelligent when it came to the matter of the Psalms. He is a serious student of them -- their history, their poetry, their themes, their various uses. I was thoroughly impressed.” Knowing Taylor is an associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Seminary, I asked him what impressed him so much.

During our conversation in Montana, he anticipated where I would be going with a certain line of questions. I mentioned the pattern of praise and lament psalms at one point, to which he interjected, with a chuckle: ‘Orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. Guess which one I’m good at!’ Those three terms, as you probably already know, come from language that biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann coined in his research on the Psalms. That terminology isn’t exactly common knowledge. I was amazed not only at the fact that he was familiar with the terms, but also at the careful manner in which he handled them.”
When they met again in July, “it was patently evident Bono had more to say,” Taylor remarked.

“Prior to our chat in New York City, I learned that he had spent the early morning re-reading the Psalms alongside various biblical commentaries and notes that he himself has taken on particular Psalms. I also found out that he had spent some time with a friend in a lively exchange about the Psalms, to get ready for our conversation. By the time I got him in the early afternoon, he was buzzing with excitement about certain themes related to the psalms of ascent, that section in the Psalter that runs from Psalm 120 to Psalm 134. Bono felt that there was something significant, not just for the Christian or the pilgrim (per the context of the Psalter) but also for the artist, in the themes that emerged in this collection of 15 psalms. The themes include a concern for peace, protection, cities, mercy, thanks, security, laughter, hubris, rage, tears, humility, searching, unity, blessing and so on. Bono had something to say about each of these themes. It was striking to see how his reading the Psalms involved a scholarly, personal and artistic lens. Aware of the near-constant demands on his time, I was impressed with how seriously he took our conversation, not least because of his longstanding care for Holy Scripture. I sincerely appreciated that kind of preparation and attention.” -LINK
From the filmmaker:

Through the windows behind Bono, I can see Hughes Bay opening out onto Flathead Lake, and beyond it, the snow-tipped Mission Mountains. Bono leans forward at the table, hands gesticulating. What he admires about Eugene, he says, is Eugene’s capacity for stillness. It reminds him of U2’s former chaplain, Jack Heaslip, who, it seems, had perfected the art of laziness. But it wasn’t “lazy to do nothing,” Bono insists.

It was laziness in the sense of an unworried carelessness. For Heaslip, this translated into an ability to be present. This presence had an expansive quality about it. To be present in this way meant that you had “all the time in the world” and the future neither threatened nor demanded that you leave the present moment for the sake of a “better option” or a more “useful employment of time.”

When Bono first walks into the Peterson home, he carries under his arm a copy of Seamus Heaney’s book of poetry, Human Chain. Bono hands the book to Eugene, only to be told by Jan they already own it. Bono laughs when he hears this. And he doesn’t appear embarrassed the redundancy of his gift. Bono tells me that Eugene reads the way he listens to music, so it’s to be expected that he’d already own the book by the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet.

In speaking to Bono’s assistants earlier in the day, I learn that gift-giving is one of Bono’s “love languages.” It is one of the peculiar ways he tries to communicate care to people. One could be excused for thinking that this behavior is a form of showmanship. “It’s simply what famous musicians can afford to do, because they’re wealthy and surrounded by an army of ingratiating assistants.” That’s possible, sure, but it’s a rather cynical way to read a sincere gesture.
At the beginning of our time together, I see Bono greet each member of the small film crew by name. Three hours later, at the end of the visit, Bono thanks them each personally, again by name. The “by name” part does not escape my notice. The larger-than-life personality that I’ve witnessed on television is here, in the Peterson’s home, replaced by a generous, somewhat-awkward, often deferential person.

...As a competitive runner in his early years, Eugene could still be a man “in a hurry” in his latter years. But he isn’t. And his non-hurried way of being, part by nature, part by choice, means that he has time to pay attention—to people, to place, to creation. As he tells me later in the day:
“I guess what I would like to convey through my writings, mostly, and through relationships, is that creation is a huge thing, and that our faith has to reflect the basicness of creation to what we’re doing. The minute you leave the place, the contingency of place, you lose the story. You’re thinking about mystical things, or dogmatic things, or religious things, but this is where it all happens. I think we’ve been pretty deliberate about making sure that we’re staying in touch with the things, with the stuff, with the rocks and the birds, whatever. That doesn’t come just at the end of your life. You have to start pretty early.”

...Halfway through my on-camera conversation with Bono and Eugene, before transitioning to our discussion of the psalms, I ask them if there is anything else they wanted to say about the calling to friendship.

His eyes drifting over to his writing desk, Eugene says, “You know, as you ask this question, I hadn’t thought of this before, but I think my friendships now are carried on mostly in correspondence. I write a lot of letters, and they’re people I liked but I didn’t really know, and then through correspondence, I feel like I know them. And they know me.”

Bono wonders whether Eugene types or writes his letters by hand.
Eugene chuckles to himself. “I used to handwrite my letters,” he says, “because I thought it was more personal, but I got a letter from a guy in South Africa, 10 years ago or so, and he said, ‘If you reply to this letter, please use a typewriter. I spent two weeks deciphering your last letter.’ So I felt that writing letters by hand was just a matter of pride. It didn’t work.”

I turn to Bono to see if he has anything else to add. Not surprisingly, he does. The trick, he tells us, is to hold on to your friendships through difficult times. Especially in America, he thinks, people move around a lot. The U.S. Census Bureau figures that a typical American will move 11 times in their lifetime. Under these circumstances, Bono suspects, it’s very hard to hold onto friendships. But “it’s really important,” he says. “So I don’t take it lightly.”

As I observed Bono and Eugene’s exchanges on that Sunday afternoon in a small town in Montana, I saw the virtue of hospitality at work. In this particular relational context, it meant the habit of paying attention and the habit of generosity of spirit. It is a gift to me to have witnessed this exchange, for many reasons, yes, but not least because it rebuked my own poor relational habits and it inspired me to want, yet again, to be a better friend.

Link: Bono, Eugene Peterson, and the Vocation of Friendship


 See also:

This from Charlie Peacock's ArtHouse blog...on the wives (Peterson's and Taylor's.  Too bad, not Bono's_ behind the film


Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation