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Out of the Closet June 26, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.

Tagged by Rob, this meme comes from Ben Myers’ wonderful blog, Faith and Theology.

For this meme, we are to make our theological confessions. So here we go…

I confess that I simply cannot stand Christian music and really wish that every Christian would learn to read music and sing in 4 part harmony .

I confess that I still do not understand what the big deal with Barth is, other than he wrote long dense books that lots of people talk about.

I confess that even if I had the Eucharist every day that I still wouldn’t think that I was observing it enough.

I confess that I call myself “emergent”, but seriously doubt that it really means anything at all.

I confess that I think that the proper Christian response to politics is simply to withdraw from such practices.

I confess that I don’t fully buy N.T. Wright’s version of the New Perspective, but am eternally grateful for him for allowing me to move past my own upbringng.

I confess that I think that mission is essential to the Christian experience, but my current mission is to do paper work.

I confess that I’ve read the catholic epistles once and have never read a single book or commentary on any of them.

I confess that if my Bible contained just the gospels I wouldn’t be all that upset.

And those are my theological confessions, more if I bother to think of them… :-)


miniPost: Update June 12, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.
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Whew, its been quite a couple of days… Mono certainly has nefarious ways of keeping you down and out. But luckily enough, things do seem to be calming down just a bit and so I am looking to get back into the swing of things here at the blog. Thanks for all your prayers.

In the Pipe:
* Emergent Series’s post on culture
* A look at prayer
* A note on the evangelical notion of “relationship with Jesus”

I’m also looking to review a couple of books for the blog here. If you have suggestions for books, please drop a comment… :-)

miniPost: Mono June 4, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.
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Hey kids, I’ve got mono and that’s the reason that I haven’t been able to write over the last couple of days. The doc said that my swollen lymph gland was “impressive”. I’m not sure how to take that exactly.

More blog as I am able, thanks for the patience… :-)

Emerging I: The Church June 1, 2007

Posted by Matt in Church, emergent.
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In order to understand the emergent movement, I think it necessary to first understand how they see the church as it exists today. Today is something of a slipper term given that the emergent movement saw its first rumblings in the 1980s. So this view of church today spreads from the late 70s through the present (think: Post-“Jesus Movement“). Continuing to disclaim a bit, this look will focus almost exclusively on church as it appears in America. (Not to be Ameri-centric, but I’ve never lived anywhere else.) Not to say that this approach wouldn’t be valid outside of the states, just that your milage may vary.

Since around the 1860s (the arrival of Pentecostalism),  there have been three rather distinct branches of Church. The first of these branches for discussion is the Catholic branch. The Catholic branch of the Church includes the Roman Rite, Orthodoxy, and certain members of the Anglican tradition. The Catholic branch of Christianity is largely concerned with eccessiology. (I use the term in a slightly irregular manner — Not only do I use it to refer to the structure and practice of Church, but also that Catholic activity is primarily centered on the church itself [in and of itself].) Highlights of the branch include a heavy emphasis on submission to the Church as a united whole as expressed through its tradition. The individual has little status in the eyes of the Church at large, excepting rare circumstances (“miracles”?) (ie: Fatima). Also characteristic of the Catholic branch is the equivalent reliance on tradition and Scripture. Catholic soteriology is Church-based: the individual receives salvation through the church. This places emphasis on the Church at large over the individual. There are, of course, significant theological differences between the Catholic branch and the rest of Christianity. However, it is beyond the scope of our present discussion to detail these explicitly, but anyone with a cursory knowledge of Christian doctrinal history will have passing familiarity.

The second major branch for discussion is  Pentecostalism. Pentecostals are by in large independent of any overhead leadership structure, leaving local churches to guide doctrine and provide pastoral leadership. Pentecostalism is primarily indicated by its heavy emphasis on the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. In this tradition, worship is primarily concerned with the exercise of the gifts. This fact tends to highlight the individual over the church as a whole. Pentecostal soteriology is based upon the spirit providing affirmation of the individual to himself and to the community at large via the presentation of the gifts. Beyond this primary influence, there is little that is characteristic of the movement as a whole (not even Christian orthodoxy). This is due mainly to its decentralized nature and its loose view of ecclesiology. Parts of the Pentecostal branch overlap with the Evangelical branch (esp. in fundamentalism) and even (ever so slightly) the Catholic branch.

The final branch for consideration is Evangelicalism. Now, I will be presenting my own opinion of what constitutes an evangelical, being fully aware that this is a term that is still being debated. Evangelicalism is the largest branch in States (though it does depend on how you define the term). In my definition: there are three distinct groups within Evangelicalism: Mainline Protestants, Independents, and Fundamentalists. The reason for this division is primarily simplicity’s sake, though I think that there is more overlap between them than not. Conservative Mainliners, Independents, and Fundamentalists all share similar views of ecclesiology and soteriology as well as an emphasis in praxis. Liberal Mainliners are outliers for the present discussion (maybe, because many of them are ’emergent’?). Most Evangelicals have a lower view of ecclesiology. Mainliners (as a whole) have higher views of Church (still lower than that of the Catholic branch) which includes an emphasis on non-local leadership and a slightly higher view of the sacraments. Mainliners tend to be more politically liberal and yet less politically active. Mainliners are also typically more established in their communities than other and (perhaps, for that reason) their demographics tend older. In contrast, Independents tend to have lower views of church (even though some of them are even known to serve Communion from time to time). Independents usually have no formal overhead structure, but often belong in church conglomerates or collectives (such as the Southern Baptist convention) with similar views of doctrine and political issues. Independents tend to be more politically conservative and trend younger demographically then their Mainline brethren. Finally, contrasting even further with Mainliner are the Fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are characterized by an extreme commitment to orthodoxy (at least, in so much as the individual fundamentalist sees it). Characteristic of the fundamentalists is hard stances on the inerrancy of the Bible, Solo Scriptura (that first word isn’t a typo), and premillennial views of eschatology (esp. dispensationalism). Fundamentalists are almost exclusively politically conservative as the result of firm views on the issues such as abortion and homosexual practice. Fundamentalists tend to be very vocal in political activity. As a result of its radical doctrine, there is almost no place for ecclesiology within this sub-branch. Fundamentalist soteriology is characterized by extreme emphasis on a personal commitment to the gospel (as the local church would define it) and usually a ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ view of perseverance. (How that fits within their praxis is a question for another day…) These three contrasting subtypes of Evangelical make trying to make overriding generalizations difficult, but there are couple of things that are probably worth noting of the movement as a whole. While not all of its constituents are political vocal, a majority of them are active in political causes that are primary a result of their personal beliefs on The State and moral issues. Most evangelicals, while having individualistic views of soteriology, maintain that local community is of value especially individual participant within that community.

Hopefully, this overview of the Church at present will give us enough of a basis to discuss the Emergent critique of Church as well as how Emergents define themselves apart from this overview.  Next up, we’ll take a look at the culture that we find ourselves in. Until then… :-)

The Emerging Church: A Tiger’s View May 27, 2007

Posted by Matt in Church, emergent.

I begin this series with the following understanding:

I, Matt Lemieux, do not pretend to speak on behalf of The Emerging Church. I do not pretend to have a complete view of the movement and its content as a whole. I will restrict myself to addressing the movement as I see it. I will attempt to explain my position relative to those qualities that I find defining the movement.

With that preliminary explanation, I hope to follow this outline in looking at the movement:

1) Introduction (this post)
2) The catholic Church: Where are we now?
3) The Culture: Where are we now?
4) The Emergent Church: Introduction
5) (One Post for Each Major Strand of Emergent — Probably following Scot McKnight’s view)
6) The Emergent Church and Culture: What now?
7) The Emergent Church and catholic Church: What now?
8) Conclusion

I reserve the right to alter this outline at anytime (because it’s my writing… :-P). I will link each post as it is made and hopefully make it easier for those of you who follow along after I write the series. At present, I do not know the schedule for how I am going to write these posts. I will be following the outline from 1) to 8), but the gap between each maybe be entirely random.

I will state ahead of time that I will NOT be quoting much from primary sources. This is not to say that I haven’t read them or that I value what they have to say or add to the conversation, but I’m namely dealing with emerging as I see it.

If you have questions or comments on the overall program/series as a whole, please leave them here. Specific comments or questions about the Emergent Church or any other comments that I make, please leave those on each post.

miniPost: Blogs May 27, 2007

Posted by Matt in Miscellaneous.

If you have a blog to recommend to me to read, please leave a comment here with a link. I’m looking to broaden my blogosphere reading. My current blogroll represents about half of my daily blog reading, so you can use that as a guide to your recommendation. Don’t worry about my position or their position. Focus mainly on the quality of thought and the clarity of writing.

Recent Happenings May 25, 2007

Posted by Matt in Blogosphere.

From my readings in the blogosphere over the past week or so (I was away):

1) Jerry Falwell died. I sang an inappropriate number from the Wizard of Oz. Luckily, it would seem that I was not alone in that sentiment: Kyle Potter’s words echo my own thoughts really well.

2) Ben Myers quotes a discouraging statistic. I don’t agree with Myers on much, but I do find myself continuing to read him regularly. I think that’s the best complement that I can give him… :-)

3) Michael Bird points our attention to a new book on the Apostolic Fathers that I am rather looking forward to reading.

4) Ben Myers (see, I do read him regularly) also points us to a post by Michael Westmoreland-White (you’ll forgive me — I don’t know who that is) on the subject “What is Theology?” and I hope to have a post on his thoughts soon.

And there you have it.

So I’m Emerging? May 25, 2007

Posted by Matt in Church, emergent, Matt.
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I suppose that over the past year or so as I have become increasingly familiar with the emergent church and its varying ways and streams of thought that I have gradually been pulled in by the basics of post-modern Christianity. Now, I’ve been struggling over the past few days to try to place some definition around that admission.

I suppose there is something that I find wondrous and mysterious about not being able to completely define the movement that I call home or even describe the basics of that movement. Yet, there is also I think something to be unnerved about the fact that there really is not a firm understanding of the underlying theology of the movement. For instance, what does an emergent soteriology look like? Now, I think that every can agree that there is a fairly plain and common eschatology and missiology amoung those in the emergent movement, but what about beyond that.

I have spent the last few weeks trying to get a hold of as many different intro’s to post-modern Christianity that I can in order to try to make better sense of these issues. I hope that I’ll be able to return to many of them and blog my thoughts.

Anyway, this is all to say that over the next couple of weeks I want to spend time looking at my own views and the views of the movement as I see them on display both in text and in the blogosphere.

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog… May 20, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.

So yeah, I recieved the following text message today from friend and fellow-formerly-lapsed-blogger Roberto (check the sidebar — I’m lazy at the moment):

You don’t blog anymore and you know it :) …

And yes, I must admit that I don’t blog anymore. There are several reasons for this: none of which I have the time nor the where-with-all to tap out at the moment. The observant reader will note that I haven’t posted a new entry since September. (The even more observant reader will note that there hasn’t been an original post here since even longer in the past.) For this, I am sorry and apologize.

Oh wait! No I don’t… To the five readers of this blog, I remind you that this is MY blog. If I haven’t written anything here, it’s probably because there wasn’t anything worth being written by me at the moment or that I had other better things to attend to. If you know anything about me, then you’ll probably understand this a little bit better than I can explicate in a single blog posting.

All that being said, I am officially announcing the end of this blog.

Whew, now that that is done with, I would also like to announce that there is now a completely new blog, this one. The address will not be changing. The feed will remain precisely the same. The authorship will not change nor be added to any time in the near future. The content will remain the same as well. The only thing that will change (and indeed has already changed) is me, the author. Perhaps, in the near future, we’ll look into what those changes might be.

Matt Lemieux
A Post-Modern Anglo-Catholic Anarchist (whatever that may mean)

The Mini MEme September 25, 2006

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.

This meme comes courtesy of Roberto of New Perspective fame… Though I must admit that I originally saw it on Nothing New Under The Sun, a simply superb theo-blog.

Anywho, onward to the actual meme:
Name a piece of Art that you love.

The Godfather

My pick would have to The Godfather, the film directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on the novel by Mario Puzo. Simply a masterpiece of American Cinema, this is a film that simply takes its own time to tell the story that it desires to tell. Add that with the fact that it happens to be one of the most manly films ever. How could you possibly go wrong? (*cough* GF3)

A Line of a Song or Line of Poetry that Reaches Your Core

Isn’t it love
This rain that falls on the sinner and the saint
Isn’t it love
This well that won’t run dry
Isn’t it love
These mercies are made new every morning […]

Isn’t it love to look down from the sky
And see your only son on the cross asking why
And somehow let him die that way
And not call the whole thing off

All for a man here in Kalamazoo
Who loses his bags and his way sometimes, too
But that was something that you already knew
And still you died for me

From Andrew Peterson‘s Isn’t It Love, originally from his Clear to Venus album, but most recently (and the best cut I think) from his Appendix A. You have my permission to buy every record Andy has ever made and any ones he will release into the future. In fact, buy several and pass them around to your friends.

An Experience in Nature that was really special and/or Spiritual

Not that I am one to “commune with Nature” all that much… However, I would have to say that there is the place in the North Carolina mountains called Sterchi Lodge that I can’t help but have a spiritual connection with. I’ve traveled there for several retreats, all of which were memorable for one reason or another.

Lake Junaluska might become a close second some day if I ever get to spend enough time there doing something other than business.

The Movie(s) that Changed the Way You Saw the World

I’m going to cheat and throw two films up here. I feel justified since they are related.

Most recently, I would have to say Hotel Rwanda. This film is about Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan native who managed a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. Paul was instrumental in allowing over 1200 refugees flee the genocide that gripped Rwanda at the time. This film solidified my resolve to help the people of Africa (and the rest of the world) in any way that I could. One cannot walk away from this film without being affected to change. Psst… Surely Amnesty International is not the only folks that have caught the modern day parallel (Darfur).

Relatedly, I will select Schindler’s List, a film about Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who ran ceramics factory in Poland and the modern Czech Republic. Schindler was instrumental in allowing over 1200 Jews escape the genocide that gripped Europe at the time. I must admit that I wasn’t old enough to fully appreciate this film the first time I saw it. It is one of the few films that I spend the last half crying through. It introduced me to the notion that film could impact the way that I saw the world. I suppose that is a touch “meta” to the meme’s question… :-)

A Piece of Music that Makes You Cry

As much as I love music (both to listen and perform), I have never cried at a musical performance or recording. However, I always get a good kick in the gut when the church sings Amazing Grace. I sang four verses from Amazing Grace at my maternal grandfather’s funeral. I can’t say that I ever cared much for the man, but in my mind that is forever where Amazing Grace will be found, at the graveside of my mother’s father.

This concludeth the meme. If you are reading this line, consider yourself tagged to complete this meme at your blog or place of posting residence (*cough* TWebbers). Just remember to drop a trackback or comment with a link.