Saturday, July 17, 2004

Welcome to 21st Century Reformation

Ok here goes. Let the blogging begin;
First, I have another blog:

That blog is more about how people don't think too good and the relationship between America's Mis-education and its effect on the current political scene. I really do think if we continue to be willing to believe conspiracy theories and hateful speculations about other groups of people that we could find our streets filled with politically and extremist driven violence.

This blog, on the other hand, is directly about the solution, which in my mind is the reformation of the church in America. Currently, wonderful changes are happening in the church in some corners. Some of these changes are happening in people's minds and hearts but are failing to produce the fruit that good implementation of these ideas should generate. Basically, the church is beginning to understand that being the church is about entering the "story" of the bible. To have a set of beliefs is not the defining characteristic of being Christian, though I contend this is very very important and foundational, but the key to being an effective people is to see the bible as a story to enter into. I like to explain this as an epistemological shift. Epistemology is the study of how people learn or what is knowing. The shift is that the church is realizing that to have the right "ideas" does not mean you know Christianity or the Christian faith. To know Christianity is to know it by your own personal doing or experience.

A simple way to understand this is to compare knowing gymnastics to knowing mathematics. A person is said to know mathematics when the person can properly manipulate the symbols and abstract ideas about numbers and come to the correct conclusions or answers. But "You don't learn gymnastics that way"!! A person knows gymnastics when they learn, through coaching and practice and often thinking deeply about their doing, to actually perform the activities of gymnastics. If a person can answer all the physics questions about doing a double back flip but cannot even do a cartwheel, we would never say that person knows or has learned gymnastics nor would we ever call this person a gymnast. Because the way you know gymnastics is simply different than the way you come to know mathematics. Well, the church has through the centuries come to think of Christianity much more like mathematics than gymnastics but this is not the biblical way to think about the life of faith.

Greek and Hebrew Education

Today, in the church, and for good reason, there is much talk about the rabbinic method of learning and how the Hebrew educational methods relate to discipleship and living the Christian life. This is indeed where the understanding of the answer to our problem can be found. The deep root cause of the current impotence of the church lies in our academic or Greek method of education - the academy. I do not want to go deeply into these ideas here today but suffice it to say that the Hebrew method of education starts by seeing knowledge as a skill for living (wisdom) and the Greek method sees knowledge and wisdom as the ability to manipulate ideas. The Hebrew approach views the life of faith like learning gymnastics while the Greek approaches questions of faith like one would approach mathematics.

So how does that relate to the "21st Century Reformation"

I would suggest that what Rick Warren and others and the post-modern theologians are all attempting to teach the church is to approach the Christian faith more like gymnastics and to "learn by doing" and less like a mathematical problem. This change is wonderful, and I would like to use my time, energy and money to promote the necessary changes in how we do church which will both unite the church and help the church return to her rightful place of effectiveness. As we learn to do church and enter the biblical story in earnest, then we will again be the "salt and light" of our land.

God Bless,



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