Wednesday, January 14, 2009


reason 2,342,656 i love living in massachusetts: incredible, non-commercial radio. almost every day i listen to wbur, boston's npr news station that produces such fan favorites as car talk and tom ashbrook's on point, wers an eclectic, indie-music giant out of emerson college, wumb an influential folk music station, that regularly features john hiatt, out of umass boston and wgbh, a classical music/npr news format station that is a perfect refuge from wbur during fundraisers. now, if we can only get a non-commercial sports talk station that is hosted by michael lewis, thomas boswell, chris collinsworth, bill simmons, chuck klosterman, ken rosenthal, rob neyer, bill james and joe morgan we'll be all set!

i read phyllis tickle's the great emergence a little over a month ago and i enjoyed it. i wish i would have reviewed it immediately after reading so that her assertions were fresh on my mind. tickle's central premise is that every 500 years or so - think pope gregory the great, the great schism, the great reformation and brian mclaren - the church undergoes a major seismic shift. she goes to great lengths to show that the last shift was inspired not only by luther's theological complaints but by the printing press, the rise of the nation state and the renaissance/enlightenment/late middle ages. tickle believes that we are currently undergoing a major shift she calls the great emergence on account of the rise of globalization, the internet revolution and the forthcoming decriminalization of marijuana.

anyway, in regards to western christianity tickle asserts that the playing field has long looked like a quadrant that included the roman catholics, the social justice christians, the fundamentalists/evangelicals and the pentecostal/charismatics. as christians have been more and more exposed to the valuable elements of other quadrants and have even incorporated practices that were characteristic of other quadrants into their worship and mission, tickle suggests that there has been a "gathering center" of believers who are leaving their old denominational designations and exclusivistic theological systems behind in order to plumb the diverse depths of the traditions and join with others on the redemptive, kingdom mission of Christ.

where am i going with? right. tickle notes that in each quadrant there are 10-15% of believers who will refuse to move towards the center and will become quadrant fundamentalists of sorts. she also notes that there currently are and will continue to be "hyphenated" groups such as preby-mergent that hold on firm to their quadrant with one hand and reach as far towards the gathering center as they can with the other hand.

as for me, i would love to be numbered among the hyphenateds by maintaining my roots in the stone-campbell movement while continuing to be an active participant in the great emergence. since i am already a part of the latter, i've been thinking about the elements of my tradition that will help me keep a firm hold on the former. thus, my great question is: what elements of the stone-campbell tradition are worth holding onto?

so far, i've decided that the weekly practice of the eucharist, believers baptism, a dedication to world mission, an openness to utilizing contemporary mediums in order to communicate the message and shared leadership are stone-campbellish elements that i would like to hold onto. if you are a part of "the movement" or have simply had a movement and would like to comment on either tickle's book or the idea of living a hyphenated christian life, feel free.

one more thing: kellie mentioned yesterday that she does not think it is the government's responsibility to provide vouchers, and thus PAY, for americans with rabbit eared sets to make the jump to digital broadcasting. i can't agree with her more. since when did the ability to watch stupid schlock like american idol become an inalienable right!? now they want to delay the conversion because people haven't listened to two years of endless commercials about the shift or don't care enough about the transition to pony up the $200. come on!!!


Landis said...

I think the autonomy of each congregation can be both a blessing and a curse. You've touched on this elsewhere, I think.

Notlob said...

Re: "wumb an influential folk music station..." not so any more.

WUMB dropped all self-references to its being a folk radio station, adopting more of a AAA format approximately 9-12 months ago.

g13 said...

it's a mixed bag indeed! i actually think the term "autonomous congregation" is a oxymoron of the first order.

notlob, thanks for stopping by. i wasn't aware of the format change. i still think they play a lot more folk music than they do AAA type stuff. whadda you think?

g13 said...

one more thing. landis, you're a part of the CCOC tradition. what elements of the tradition do you consider worthy of salvage?

Landis said...

Definitely the weekly observance of the Supper, although I'd like to see it done more liturgically. I'd also add to that the ideal of attempting to "go back to the New Testament" and be willing to change anything that gets in the way of living the gospel. That is, to me, a worthy goal of the CCoC traditions. Unfortunately I can come up with more elements that I'd scrap.

g13 said...

thanks for the input. i don't know how helpful the ideal of going back to the new testament actually is. on an abstract level i like the ad fontes principle a lot, but in reality i think this principle has led us to ignore the vital importance of contextualization.

i can also come up with quite a list of things i would like to scrap. fortunately, as we move towards the gathering center we have the opportunity to discard outdated, non-useful and untrue practices as we embrace practices that have been developed by brothers and sisters in the other traditions.

let's start restore-mergent landis! you know you want to do it!

Landis said...

Do you want to hear irony of ironies? I'm being interviewed for a CCoC Saturday. (Hint: it's initials are the same as your alma mater.

Resote-mergent? I'm all over that!

Landis said...

Um, rather restore-mergent.

g13 said...

i'm glad you're interviewing for l.c.c. i think you would do a great job...and you could invite me to guest preach.

i also think we should start attending quarterly meetings at rh together. up for it?

Landis said...

Thanks, Jeff. I'm up for visiting RH quarterly. Let me know.

Anonymous said...

g13, i like your list of Stone-Campbell principles, but you left out "manifestations of the Holy Spirit similar to Cane Ridge."

Wait a minute...the movement left that out as well. Friggin' cessationists!


g13 said...

um...that's because i'm not all that interested in people barking up trees. that kind of behavior is acceptable in kentucky, but is considered excessive in other parts of the country.

as for cessationism, i think there is quite a bit of diversity on that topic within "the movement."

i think restore-mergent is the perfect venue for our stone-cambell t-shirts. what do you think?

Anonymous said...

I take it by diversity within the movement you mean, one prof between my 3.5 years of undergrad and 2.5 of seminary? That's George Bush-style diversity.

And i'm not talking about barking up trees, nor am I talking about yodeling ladies in front of Best Buy. Just the good ol' stuff that's clearly in scripture, but the movement found a way to explain away.

As for the t-shirts...i'll need some sketches.


g13 said...

funny that you bring up the yodeling lady. i just told that story this morning at breakfast (and, subsequently, promised my mates that you and amy would visit sooner or later).

of course i'm joking about barking up trees and the emotional tendencies of kentuckians. i am curious though whether only one of your professors was a non-cessationist. is dr. lowery a cessationist? dr. castelein? dr. goofy?

i'd be surprised if the first two profs are cessationists in a theological sense. are you referring to doctrine or practice (assuming of course we can separate the two)?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so i'm probably stretching my numbers a bit...I'd catergorize it more Profs who've verbalized belief in it (Castelein) and profs who plead the fifth (the rest).

Dr.'re not right. I so want a "heaven-rewind" of him coming into class late and you burying your head in the Hebrew grammar book. Do you think God will let us still laugh at other people's expense in eternity? Or will our new bodies allow us to do it without sinning?

Assure your mates that we exist, we long to come back to Boston and hang, and we'll get it figured out eventually!

"I'm 87...yodel-la-ee-yodel-la-ee-yodel-la-ee-hoo."


g13 said...

just to clarify: you believe that dr. castelein is a raging pentecostal and the other professors have a poorly defined doctrine of the Holy Spirit?

that's interesting.

"it was in bloomington that i learned to rivet and it was in bloomington that i learned to yodel!"

Anonymous said...

I'm saying Castelein didn't back away from glossolalia or prophecy, and I had profs at KCC (i'll grant LCCS a temporary reprieve) that would make back-handed comments regarding, it's all inference but:

1. if you believe in it, you don't mock
2. if you believe in it, and don't want to get fired (e.g. Jack Deere @ Dallas Theological), you keep your mouth shut (Jack obviously didn't)

Or maybe they all really believe deep in their heart of hearts and are too proud/chickensh** to admit it. I mean, really, it's not like one is coming out of the closet. It's biblical for crying out loud...

Perhaps this should be my final stance: In retrospect, I had many "educated" instructors who wanted to put finite boundaries on an infinite being. So maybe cessasionist is too tough...they're just victims of the Enlightenment.