Posts Tagged ‘ ecclesiology ’

summer class – partnering with Seattle churches

Every summer trimester at MHGS I get to guide a group of emerging leaders through a selected readings course . . . for us “selected readings” means that faculty members are given some space to develop a course around an area of passion. In preparation for this summer’s learning journey, I’ve been working on this […]

A Relational Hermeneutic for K.o.G. Mission

I am thrilled that to announce that I just received my first bound copy of my book and it is available at a store near you… This book was born in the context of an eleven-year life altering experiment in ecclesial life, fleshed out in learning communities with thoughtful women and men who never ceased […]

Emergent @ CCT, follow-up

A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend a few hours with Christian Churches Together, which is a relatively new ecumenical network in the USA.  I have to say that I find these ecumenical gatherings quite encouraging.  For instance as an Anabaptist (it may be more precise to say that I am an […]

Emergent @ Christian Churches Together

This week is the fourth annual gathering of the fairly new ecumenical group, Christian Churches Together (CCT), and this year’s meeting brings them to Seattle, and are being hosted by World Vision. CCT has invited me to facilitate a couple of workshops on Emergent. From their “What We Do” tab on their site they state: […]

creation . . . comedy central

For a few days I’ve been sitting the question: “how can I better understand and enter into the narrative of church?”  This question took me back to Greek theater, represented by the masks below.  I find myself wondering whether the narrative of church is a tragic (tragic as a narrative device) subplot within God’s cosmic comedy

The great Canadian literary critic, Northrop Frye (1912-1991) wrote:

“The four mythoi that we are dealing with, comedy, romance, tragedy, and ir
, may now be seen as four aspects of a central unifying myth . . . conflict is the basis or archetypal theme of romance . . . ; catastrophe is the archetypal theme of tragedy . . . ; the sense that heroism and effective action are absent, disorganized or foredoomed to defeat, and that confusion and anarchy reign over the world, is the archetypal theme of irony and satire . . . ; recognition of a newborn society rising in triumph around a still somewhat mysterious hero and his bride, is the archetypal theme of comedy” (Frye 1957, p. 192).

Could it be that Christ and his bride are the main characters in a cosmic comedy? 

Or maybe the narrative of church is an anti-story.  An anti-story is a story that arises to contrast another story.  Any story that has a significant impact in a group or organization will give rise to similar stories (“That reminds me . . . “) as well as anti-stories.  Anti-stories aim at undermining and transforming the original story. 

What was the commonly held story of the first century Christianity?  And what was the anti-story embodied by the church? 

What are the commonly held stories of our day?  What are the Seattle, the American, and the Global stories and how are anti-stories being embodied? 

Peace, dwight


I you have visited my site before you will know that I am in the process of constructing an relational theology.  Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revoloutions) has helped us to see that anytime the is a paradigmn shift one cannot assume that the connections within the old paradigm hold true in the new.

As the theological turn to relationality continues, the foci of systematic theology, and hermentical systems employed in the creation of such theologies are being revisioned.  The circles (see Ralph Waldo Emerson) of theological meaning are being redrawn.

We likely get closer to truth if we don’t focus exclusively on propositions.  More then ever we are seeing that


soft differnce: church/culture

When I first encountered Miroslav Volf and his theological work I was elated. I found myself sharing his books with anyone around who would lend me their ear even if just for a moment.  Needless to say I don’t agree with him on every point . . . but then agreement isn’t the point.  He consistently and graciously leads me to reflect on the movement toward ‘us.’ 

Recently I came across and article of Volf’s which first appeared in North Park’s theological journal, Ex Auditu.


Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter
by Miroslav Volf

morphogenesis of church life, 2.0

Cellular Mitosis is cell division in which one somatic cell divides to produce two cells each of which has the identical genetic content (same number of chromosomes) as the original somatic cell.


An interesting question to reflect on is when a cell divides which cell is the original?  Does the original still exist?  Is there truly a parent cell?  How is it that the parent cell becomes a daughter cell?  What implications might that hold for church multiplication?


With the diploid human cell mitosis results in two new diploid cells containing the 23 chromosome pairs (46 total chromosomes) Cells undergo division after receiving a communication (chemical message) instructing them to divide. For body cells (somatic cells) cell division is for growth, repair, and replacement. There are a great number of cells making up the human body – approximately 60 trillion.


Not all cells are the same: intestinal cells divide every 3 days and are broken down by digestion, while blood cells last 3 months and are replaced by new cell division, while nerve cells usually don’t divide but last for life. 


Below is a brief description of the phases of cellular mitoses:


Interphase . . . is the cell growth phase in which a cell increases in size and carries out activities that support the organism.  It is technically not a part of mitosis.  Near the end of this phase, the chromosomes of the cell duplicate in preparation for cell division.  By the time a cell is ready to divide, there are two copies of each chromosome (the sister chromatids.) 

Prophase . . . The chromosomes coil, becoming short and thick. The nuclear membrane appears to dissolve and the chromosomes float in the cytoplasm.  The spindle, a football-shaped, cage like structure consisting of thin fibers forms in the cytoplasm.  The spindle fibers attach to the centromeres of the chromosomes and to both ends of the cell.

Metaphase . . . All of the chromosomes line up across the center of the cell.

Anaphase . . . The chromosomes separate.  One copy of each chromosome is pulled to each end of the cell by the spindle fibers.

Telophase . . . The cell membrane begins to pinch the cell in two to divide the cytoplasm.  A new nuclear membrane forms in each daughter cell.  The “daughter cells” contain the same genetic information as was found in the original cell and as each other because the chromosomes in each cell are the same.   

Cytokinesis . . . In humans, daughter cells are separated by the division of the cytoplasm by the formation of a ‘cleavage furrow’ which ultimately pinches apart the cells. It is caused by a contractile ring of microfilaments (actin) and the protein “myosin”.  Cytokinesis also results in the (random) distribution of organelles such as the mitochondria, chloroplasts, etc. The end result of mitosis and cytokinesis is two cells with 46 chromosomes.


Peace, dwight

morphogenesis of church life

I’ve been giving some more thought to the connections of Cellular Mitosis with church growth and church planting.  The body of Christ appears to be a not unlike a multicellular living organism.  Multicellular living organisms contain more than one cell and have differentiated cells that perform specialized functions.  A group of similarly differentiated cells performing a function in a multicellular organism is known as a tissue, (or a maybe a denomination or a church/missional movement).


Developmental biology is the study of the process by which organisms grow and develop, (this may be useful for our study of the growth and health of the church). Modern developmental biology studies the genetic control of cell growth, differentiation and “morphogenesis”, which is the process that gives rise to tissues, organs and anatomy.


In the human embryo, the change from a cluster of nearly identical cells at the blastula stage to a post-gastrulation embryo with structured tissues and organs is controlled by the genetic “program” and can be modified by envi
ronmental factors.  Could it be that this might help us better reflect on the enviromental factors which shape the structure of our new churches?


Remember that multicellular organisms can suffer from cancer when cells fail to regulate their growth within the normal program of development.  Sound like anything you can think of? 


More later. 


Peace, dwight

the ‘becoming’ of ‘conversion’

The conversation that has been taking place over the last couple of days on this journal regarding the Orthodox, Roman, Protestant (and emergent) churches has me thinking about conversion.  Each tradition has its rite(s) of initiation.  What North American Evangelicals mean when they say “conversion” is significantly different from what South American Catholics might mean.  Western evangelicalism has often looked our understanding of conversion as the hallmark of faith, (Kierkegaard certainly nudged us in the direction of such individual piety).


Our Western Evangelical praxis of conversion bears a striking resemblance to the goals of modern scientism.  When a convincing-enough case is made the person or persons on the loosing side of the debate will come on over the winning side; they will convert: changing their allegiance, thought patterns and ways.   


The Apostle Paul’s
Damascus Road encounter with Christ is often cited in support of such conversions.  Does anyone else find it odd, that given Paul’s radical encounter with Christ that we don’t see Paul encouraging the churches to whom he wrote to convert their friends, family and neighbors?  There is very little emphasis placed on trying to convince anyone who doesn’t name Christ of anything.  Why? 


My revivalist missionary heritage has taken Christ’s final words before his ascension as our mission (often called the great commission).  The familiar words (at least to me) say:

“I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  The Gospel according to Matthew 28:18b-20


The Great Commission begins with Christ’s declaration that “complete authority” has been given to him in the way Matthew records these words it is indicates that Christ is extending his very authority to his followers: “all authority . . . therefore go and make.”  It seems important to sit with Christ’s use of authority.  The writer to the Hebrews claims that Christ is the exact representation of God – so much so that to see Jesus the Christ is to see God.  Jesus’ authority was his presence. 


When writing to the church of Philippi, Paul stressed that because Jesus was God he didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped but emptied himself of all his rights, (English translations have often read “although he was God” – “although” can be translated “because”, and more and more NT scholars are arguing this case), this passage of Scripture is known as the Kenosis passage.  It stresses the self-emptying of God, as a demonstration of Divine love, manifest in the movement toward reconciliatory relationality through incarnation.  At least from Kenosis passage authority is something like, loving presence which self-empties in the movement toward “us.”  If we were to look at Christ’s “self-emptying” use of authority our understanding of the great commission might be informed maybe even transformed.   Our “going” and “making” could like more like Christ’s “going” and “making.”


How did Christ “go” and “make”?  What did conversion look like for his immediate followers? 


peace, dwight