Yesterday was a good, long day. It ended with Amy and I sitting in our hotel room watching CSI: Las Vegas. That was good.
But, lest I miss a lot of details and great thoughts, let me start from the beginning.
I got up and went to a Book Club on Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy.The room seemed to be half full with guys from the NPC. That has been the pattern whenever he's speaking. A lot of pastors maybe came to this convention to see what the emerging church is about without having to align themselves with the teachings of radicals like McLaren.
The Book Club was good. Bob and I have been discussing this book for a couple of months and talking out the consequences and implications for it in our context at the church, so it was good, though, to see what other pastors are resisting/struggling with in his books.
"The gospel of the Kingdom is 'God's will be done on earth, not getting it over with quickly.'"
Our Learning Community was on Humanity and it was hosted by LeRon Shults, from Bethel Seminary in Minnesota, and Kara Powell, from Fuller. This was a great discussion on what it means to be human. In a new, non-individualized paradigm, individual theories of salvation and blessing maybe aren't as helpful. This Learning Community time emphasized two things: our need for self-revelating relationships and the relational nature of God and humanity. It is clearly illustrated in the Trinity that God has eternally existed in perfect relationship. There was a lot of talk about faces and knowing a person. I was moved by the reference to the Aaronic blessing: "May the Lord bless and keep, may He make his shine upon you, may He lift up His countenance upon You..." Numbers 6:24-26.
Next, I went to a seminar led by Richard Foster on Using the Scripture in Spiritual Formation. At the outset we were led in prayer/meditation on Psalm 57:1. This was a powerful centering exercise. Foster said a couple of things that I will quote without comment.
"The fires of heaven are hotter than the fires of hell."
"Spiritual disciplines are the indirect route to the character of God."
Next was a learning community about Scripture led by Brian Walsh and Brian McLaren.
(I did get McLaren to sign my copy of Generous Orthodoxy just for fun.)
McLaren biggest beef with the modern evangelical church is the fact that the Bible suffers greatest at the hands of its friends. Sometimes, in his experience, Bible knowledge seems to be directly related to the meanness of said Christian. I liked what short discussion there was on the nature of the canon and why it is closed. I've wondered about that and still do.
Brian Walsh spent some time in Colossians showing us that the plausibility of the Scripture in the world is the plausibility of the fellowship of the community who came to live by the Scripture.
Well, after that learning Community Amy and I went out for dinner, drank some beer and walked back up Broadway. We ran into a couple of pastors who had questioned some of the things Brian said in a seminar. I stopped and told them that I thought intertraditional/intergenerational dialogue was helpful. We spent the next 45 mins hearing why the emerging church is wrong from a conservative Baptist perspective.
Finally we made it to our hotel and watched CSI. And that was our long and tiring day.