Saturday, August 07, 2004

Radical Transparency - "Opening the Oikos"

Radical Transparency - "Opening the Oikos"

The BIG new method thang that the 21st century reformation is about is observation. I know this sounds a bit strange or esoteric but this emphasis on the observed reality and basing knowledge on observation is the big revolutionary shift.

First as i write, realize that these ideas are not yet mature. The process is just beginning and the purpose of blogging is to create the dialogue and learn in community. So let the process continue.

Let me explain. In the protestant reformation, (remember I am a Reformed Pastor), the battle was initially about the corruption and superstition of the church. As the war took shape, Luther discovered the proverbial nuclear bomb that won the war in unwavering commitment to Biblical doctrine. Luther was not alone. The reformation storm had been brewing for decades. Many things had come together, the printing press, humanistic criticism of the church (Thomas Moore and Erasmus), new translations of the bible etc. Things appeared on the surface to be about indulgences and patronage and corruption. Then, Luther says "No, it is about theology". Luther hits a home run by discovering the real root cause of the churches failures. If we can rediscover the bible and grace, the souls of the masses will find courage in their love for God. Then, the church will be transformed from within. Luther found the reforming principle of his day and saved the church.

Today, the questions that are arising are quite similar. What is difficult is that we do not have the hindsight to say, "Of course, commitment to the bible is key". The reformation generations took a long time to coalesce their ideas into a cogent worldview which would win the day and change the world and the church. In hindsight, it seems obvious but it obviously wasn't so clear as it was happening. So too today!!

But the crisis is similar. Is the church losing its power and its influence due to a practice that is not compelling? In fact, this is not even a question anymore. It is just a statement. The church is losing its relevance because its practice is not compelling. FACT. And like in the reformation the answer is in a deep worldview or theological question.

Many will say, "NO, NO, NO!! It is theology that is the problem. We want a practice without dogma." Wake up, Erasmus. Even this position is based on some answer to a philosophical question. We are Christians first. To be a prophetic people, we do not look to sit around the campfire and sing, "Imagine no religion". Such immature sentimental thinking will not win the day. But on the same token, the prophetic word of the 16th century cannot again be nailed to the church door with much effect. No, the answer must come again from heaven to the soul of the church if reformation is to come, and I believe the word has something to do with "observation".

The Kingdom of God is not a set of beliefs or a system of ideas but an observed life. The path to this observed life is faith, but the goal of the Christian life is to possess an observed life.

The means of learning how to enter the Kingdom, the observed life of Christ in our personal and corporate context, is to observe our life and the life of those we long to emulate. This learning through observation is the rabbinic learning method of the New Testament as modeled by Jesus. Again, the key to this method is observation. So both the goal of our faith and the means to that goal is observation based.

Here, observation of life in time and space is in direct contrast to the method of learning which has for 1000 years ruled in Western Civilization. The greek academy is not based on observation but on ideas and the relationship between ideas. Such learning is done so to speak "with our eyes closed". Such learning takes place within the four walls of the classroom. The goal is to build and communicate a "house of ideas". This method is based on a particular epistemology which believes that abstract knowledge is the only absolutely true knowledge. This academic model and its intellectual precision is based ultimately in the Greek obsession with geometry and the later monastic and Augustinian mysticism (i.e. neo-Platonism). Well, this is the root of the problem. The key to revolution in the church is an epistemological question with an epistemological answer. The key is "observation".


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