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Wednesday, August 23, 2006



Sounds like it was a great meeting. I still have to read that book one of these days.

I think that person with the older congregation can probably learn from the book without feeling like they need to change everything they do.


It is great that this conversation is going on. I believe it's important and timely. The thing about a rambling post Brodie is that there are so many points I'd love to pick up! But I'll limit myself to two points here on the success due to numbers issue, and perhaps I'll post over at Hippocritic some other thoughts.

Firstly, I've noticed that those who have the numbers often use them, albeit implicitly sometimes, as a divine endorsement of their methods and/or doctrine, rather than recognising the growth for what it is - the blessing of a gracious sovereign God in response to our heart cry for Him and in spite of our mistakes, sinfullness and pride. Not that this is a new phenomenum: Charles Finney did it way back in the 18th century.

The counterpoint is that when we're in something small we're too happy to find excuses for the lack of numbers. And while numbers without a corresponding "commitment, or depth / length of relationship" isn't worth much in the eternal scheme of things, the fact is that we have a heavenly commission to reach the whole world, and that world is B-I-G! If we're not growing numerically (due to rebirth not relocation), then we must seriously ask ourselves if we're actually connecting with our culture in a meaningful way at all.

Anyway - that's my 2p!

Jim Gordon

I am enjoying overhearing these post-meeting conversations about the Baptists, Coffee and Emerging Church confab the other night. (which I attended and more or less behaved at!)
Thanks for drawing some of the thinking together, and pushing the discussion along. I came across a quote which seems to articulate something of the desire for ecclesiological integrity that I sense in many of those the book is about, and in those at the meeting Tuesday night. I've no comment on it - except it is wisdom from half a century ago, from the hierarchical head of an established church - Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury. Speaking of the Anglican Communion he wrote with restrained optimism, which I suppose is like a wistful realism:

'Its credentials are its incompleteness, with the tension and travail in its soul. It is clumsy and untidy....it is sent not to commend itself as the "best type of Christianity", but by its very brokenness to point to the universal church wherein all have died'.

There is something unnerving, even disarming, in such unabashed ownership of imperfection and provisionality, undergirded, as Ramsey passionately believed, by One who demonstrates that perfection of weakness through self-giving love, which in the end defines the nature of the church, and by rendering recognisable the face of Christ,establishes a normative criterion for ecclesiological integrity.

By the way, Owen Chadwick, Ramsey's biographer, once described him as 'looking perplexed, like a lion at a barbeque who had suddenly turned vegetarian for philosophical reasons.'

Thanks for the blogs Brodie,


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Hi Brodie - thanks for keeping this going and your comments on my site - I have responded there.

It was great to have your contribution the other night - not least because you brought the insights of someone who had swum in this sea a bit further and deeper than the rest of us. Accordingly you were able to bring correctives and insights we could well have missed.

The culture issue is a real one and I mention in my blog the work of James William McClendon, a 'baptist' theologian who interestingly has had some influence on McClaren. In the third volume of his systematic theology called Witness, McCLendon offers an approach to culture that recognises that the church is indeed shaped by culture and recognising that needs to respond by saying Yes to the places in which God can be discerned, No - where that is not the case - and seek to model in culture alternative 'resurrection practices' of community.Not sure that this is far from what I am reading in some expressions of the Emerging Church.

PS where on earth did you get that photograph - I think I was about 30 (for me some time ago)when it was taken but glad that having seen me the other night you thought that there was still a resemblance.


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