Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Matter Anthology v.01 is available for preorder from Shechem Press.

The Matter Anthology is imaginative theology with artistic expression. Cover by Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton.

This special anthology, which is a compilation of essays, poetry, and images that look at ideas of creative theology brings together presentations from last fall’s Matter ’09 Conference held in Austin, Texas. Subject matter of the conference was “Christian Relationships”: our relationship with God (Hebrews 12), our relationship with the church (Hebrews 13), and our relationship with the world (Romans 12).

To give a sense of the interesting content, included in the book is an essay by Julie Clawson titled, “This Is My Body — Nourishment, Sustainability, and Sacrifice as Response to Eucharist.” There’s also an essay by Thomas Turner, along with poetry by Kevin Meaux and Bill Mallonee, visual art, and drama.

I consider it an honor to have some of my pieces from the “Coram Deo” series included in this publication.

Peter Rollins, who was the key speaker at the conference, wrote the foreword to the anthology:

“When theology falls into the hands of the poet, something profound takes place. We can find that through the theological dis-course we come into contact with ourselves with all the difficulties and possibilities that entails. Through ideas like Creation, Fall, Salvation, Eucharist, Heaven, and Hell we come face to face with what it means to be human. This collection of essays, images, and poetry represents an attempt to put theology back into the hands of the dreamers. To give it back again to those who would speak lies in order to reveal the deepest, most transformative truths.”

As a side, I participated at the conference mainly because I’m interested in the emerging church movement in relation to postmodern culture. My goal was to listen carefully to the presenters in order to discern, unmistakably, what the Holy Spirit is revealing to us by those engaged in the emerging church.

In 2007 a good piece entitled “Five Streams of the Emerging Church” was posted by Scot McKnight in Christianity Today, which discusses, as he says, “Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today.” McKnight states:

“Consider this quote from an Irish emerging Christian, Peter Rollins, author of How (Not) to Speak of God (Paraclete, 2006): ‘Thus orthodoxy is no longer (mis)understood as the opposite of heresy but rather is understood as a term that signals a way of being in the world rather than a means of believing things about the world.’”

In other words, how a person lives is of greater significance than what one believes.
It’s all about one who practices the words of Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27).

With this said, how does the validity of the “emerging church movement” compare to the idea of the “true church?” As one of the great Reformed creeds, the Belgic Confession explains, the “true church” is characterized by: preaching of the Word, observing the sacraments, and practicing church discipline.

With this quote in mind I’m reminded of Richard Mouw’s article, “How to be Catholic” which is published in The Banner, July 2010. Dr. Mouw writes: “As a Calvinist, I want to be guided by the idea that it is important to strive to be a “true church.” But I also know that I cannot draw the boundaries along strictly denominational—or even theological—lines.”

This is good advice for discernment of the Spirit and the prophetic nature of the emerging church movement.

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