Monday, May 22, 2006

Hermeneutica has moved, at least for now...

Blogging will now contniue through WordPress at the new address. So, redirect you bookmarks, and lets continue the discussion!

I will keep this site up and running in case I find that WordPress is not as good as I thought it would be.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So i cant handle being away from blogging....

ok maybe thats a bit of an overstatement, but if anyone comes across perhaps by accident after I said it is over, I will be picking it up again after semester is over.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

partting is such sweet sorrow

Did I say slowed down..? Perhaps I should have said stop. Yes, im far too busy to keep up with this. Its been fun, and I anticipate that I will return to the blogosphere later in the year. But for now I bid my fairwell.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Things have slowed down here and will continue to be slow for now as I work through some issues and sort out my life. Times are stressful, and I would appreciate your prayers for my family.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

quote - Bonhoeffer on community

Every principle of selection and every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (London: SCM Press, 1972), 24

quote - Hauerwas and Willimon on community

Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon have this to say about community:
When people are very detached, very devoid of purpose and a coherent worldview, Christians must be very suspicious of talk about community. In a world like ours, people will be attracted to communities that promise them as easy way out of loneliness, togetherness based on common tastes, racial or ethnic traits, or mutual self-interest. There is then little check on the community becoming as tyrannical as the individual ego. Community becomes totalitarian when its only purpose is to foster a sense of belonging in order to overcome the fragility of the lone individual. Christian community, life in the colony, is not primarily about togetherness. It is about the way of Jesus Christ with those whom he calls to himself. It is about disciplining our wants and needs in congruence with a story, which gives us the resources to lead truthful lives. In living out the story together, togetherness happens, but only as a by-product of the main project of trying to be faithful to Jesus.

Hauerwas, S. and Willimon, W. H., Resident Aliens (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989), 78

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Relating to Jesus

In Evangelical Christianity today, there is a rising emphasis placed upon the believer's relationship with Jesus. It is thought that at the centre of what it means to be a Christian is to have a "personal relationship with Jesus". Yet I have been wondering for some time now, why is this conviction not reflected in the New Testament? Or perhaps in my search I have just missed it?

Granting the perspective the benefit of the doubt, could it simply be that the New Testament documents (bio about Jesus and letters to churches, as well as a few to individuals), due to the "accidents of history", were not concerned with it? Should the absence of the notion caution our giving it such significance and centrality?

Now Im no stiff, and I have a growing connection with God through prayer, which I am comfortable terming a 'relationship' as both give and take. But in the desire to stay true to the New Testament, I am un-easy about granting it the centrality in both proclamation and theology that others are so happy to do. Perhaps in our following Jesus, this is something that we emulate of him. Your comments are greatly desired on this issue.

The Unattainable Authority of Scripture?

Amidst contemporary debate over the authority of the Bible and how it should shape our faith, I suggest we should just get on with following Jesus, and that means reading the gospels with ears to hear (and obey).

Too often the biblical writings have been turned into vice grips and sqeezed the life out of God's people. But Jesus came to give life in God's ongoing act of renewal and re-creation. Too many rules, far too many rules.. and not enough life in the Spirit...

Monday, February 13, 2006

What do we mean by "Community"?

In a Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren writes: 'Community has become a buzzword in the church in recent years. Overbusy individuals hope they can cram it into their overstuffed schedules like their membership to a health and fitness club (which they never have time to use). Churches hope they can conjure it with candles, programs, or training videos' (208). He then goes on to speak of the Anabaptists practice of 'community in creation' (208-210).

The issue I wish to raise here is What exactly do we mean by "community"? Has it simply become a word so often thrown around without careful thought as to what is being meant? And does this problem exist within the work of scholarship, the talk of the church, or both?

In contemporary everyday usage, the term refers to a group of people associated by way of some shared characteristics. Most naturaly, a community is a group of people who live within a certain proximity to one another, thus I am part of the community of Glenfield. Beyond this, shared characteristics can range from religion (e.g. the Muslim community of London) and ethnicity (e.g. the Polynesian community of South Auckland), to shared interests (e.g. the aggressive skating community of New Zealand). Even where the community is defined by something other than proximity, locality always plays a role in the defenition as seen above. If I was to make a statement about the Polynesian community, your liekly to ask which one, whereas if I was to say something about Poynesians you would not. I may speak of the skating community of Auckland, or New Zealand, but I would rarely speak of the global skating community. Even when I do, locality comes into play (hence 'global'). It seems that locality or proximity (however wide) is never truly perged from our use of the term as community is a term used to limit the scope of our reference.[1]

However, within Christian discourse I get the impression that the term is being used to point to some ideal state of human affairs or relationships. We are told that we need to 'build' community, that this is what is lacking in our church life, we are missing whatever would make it or us a community. What then characterizes community used in this sense? What are we missing?

Here we see the ambiguity of the term. Are we looking for proximity? Certain practices that we do not all yet share? Or is it some other aspect of 'community life'? If it is the latter, where do we get these characteristics from? What actual 'community' would we wish to model it on or Who would we wish to emulate as living this ideal state of affairs?[2]

If the call for community is indeed a biblical one, then we should not be looking for communities to emulate. But the term community is an english one, what we find in the New Testament is ekklesia, and perhaps what we need is not community in need of defenition but a re-worked vision of church?

E. Stegemann and W. Stegemann examine ekklesia in the NT and conclude that 'the Christ-confessing ekklesia is an assembly in which its members come together, and it is a community or group whose members are bound together even outside their actual meetings through reciprocal social interaction.'[3] Who needs the ill-defined term community when we have ekklesia, complete with instructions as to how life within this group should function (e.g. hospitality, service, assistance, etc.)??

[1] Steve Reilly protests the wide scope given the term and offers a more restricted definition: 'This abused and ill-defined term refers to associations of individuals bound together by a shared local environment, rather than by consious interests or by links defined by a single characteristic such as class or ethnicity. Its exact boundaries are unclear, but set by scale and accidents of geography rather than by choice. A community is said to be a source of identity beyond family and close personal life, but with great intimacy and more subtle obligations and and rewards than those of national identity.' 'community', 144, in Bullock, A. and Trombley, S. (eds.), The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (London: Harper Collins, 1977, [2000, Third Edition paper back])
[2] Perhaps what is being looked for is some extended involvement in each others lives, akin to what would be experienced in a small isolated town where everyone knows everyone else. But here proximity is the catalyst and what sustains the life style, something that so many Christians do not experience in regard to their fellow church goers.
[3] The Jesus Movement: A Social History of Its First Century (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995), 264