Looking back at this post from a few years back made me think of an upcoming event that I’m privileged to be part of: Co-Creation 2012, an urban gathering in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina this April 12-15. Why did this remind me of that? Because the old gang from World Future Society 2008 will be getting back together – Brian McLaren, Diana Butler-Bass, and myself, joined by Paul Smith. Now I should emphasize that I’ll be there more in a support role, while this terrific trio will be bringing wisdom from their three unique perspectives – that of change management narration (Brian McLaren – see this), action research (Diana Butler-Bass – see this), and Integral developmental theory (Paul Smith – see this). They’re going to share, in plain language, where the Church and larger global faith communities are at, right now, and where we’re going. Most importantly, they’ll be sharing the inner and outer journey tools we can use to follow Jesus into a preferred future – co-creating with God. There will also be music, dance, workshops, and great food within walking distance. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to register right now.
Of course, not everyone likes change, or deep wisdom that defies convention, as we’ve been exploring on the blog this week. What follows is a reflection on this from 2008:
You know you’re doing something worthwhile when all the right people are denouncing you.
A couple of weeks ago Herescope denounced Jay Gary, Diana Butler-Bass, Brian McLaren and myself, who will be hanging out at the World Future Society‘s annual conference in D.C. We’ll be talking about “The Future of the Religious Right” and of global Christian faith in general, but the Heroscope team sees our work as promoting “new theologies and practices,” and “disparaging…of biblical prophecy.” Somehow, they suspect that all this winds up “creating an evolutionary convergence” where we all sing Kumbaya and venerate Gaia and Easter bunnies. As if that’s a bad thing!
Moving along: I’ve already told you the kind of flack The Shack has been getting recently with the heresy-hunter websites. Well, as Steve Knight reports at Emergent Village, now our ‘ol pal Mark Driscoll is in on the action too (you can watch his eight-minute YouTube rant on the E.V. link). Apparently he’s mighty uncomfortable with the sacred feminine, relational depictions of God, and the idea of the Trinity (and thus, human relatedness) as mutually submissive rather than chain-of-command hierarchical. Sigh. Co-publisher Wayne Jacobsen blogs his response to the question “Is The Shack Heresy?”
Of course Frank Viola has had his share of critique concerning Pagan Christianity–not all from shrill heresy hunters, but certainly enough of it. Tim Dale over at Karis Productions produced this pretty funny spoof response:
I have two observations about all the shelling and attack from this past month: Most of the people above are friends of mine, and for the most part, we can all laugh this off (in the cases of Frank and Team Shack, they can laugh all the way to the bank, as these books have really struck a chord with most readers and have become best-sellers)–even if we don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Others, though, are not so fortunate–heresy-hunters can cost people their livelihoods.
I don’t have the privilege of knowing Peter Enns, but his story has been all over the blogosphere recently. As Christianity Today reports, Enns has been suspended from his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary for writing his 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, which takes a hard look at the messy, complex, and human aspects of Scripture from an evangelically-informed text criticism point of view. The Board of Trustees said:
“That for the good of the Seminary (Faculty Manual II.4.C.4) Professor Peter Enns be suspended at the close of this school year, that is May 23, 2008 (Constitution Article III, Section 15), and that the Institutional Personnel Committee (IPC) recommend the appropriate process for the Board to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his employment at the Seminary. Further that the IPC present their recommendations to the Board at its meeting in May 2008.”
I understand that confessionally Christian schools are not as enamored with “freedom of thought at any cost” like their liberal arts counterparts; I get that evangelical higher learning institutions are trying to maintain a precarious balance between intellectual integrity and nurturing creedal faith commitments. All the same, Enns is not Bishop Spong or something–he’s asking questions about Holy Writ that the rest of the Church (and world at large) have been asking since the 19th century. Like it or not, those who read and love the Bible are going to begin pondering its more troubling aspects with greater honesty and ideological flexibility.
Heresy-hunting is far from the world’s worst problem. (Next time, I’m going to blog about sex trafficking. Please try to refrain from throwing yourself off a building.) Nonetheless, it is a downer. As I mused last year, sometimes I wonder why I even bother participating in this kind of ‘dialogue’–it all seems so insular. Sometimes I just want to throw my blog into the ocean (so to speak) and becoming a wandering hermit…with my wife and child, of course. But for now, I suppose I’ll leave everyone with an easily-rebuttable maxim: If you don’t have something kind to blog, don’t blog anything at all.
Mike Todd’s The Shack Film casting call
John MacArthur launches Nothing Must Change tour
Portions of this post were originally published on April 8, 2008