Toward a Praxis of Christian Disagreement

A brilliant post by Stephen Shields that concludes:

There are surely critical times when love for God and others may demand that we raise our voice or endanger a relationship (and even here, there is an inner calm that can pertain born of our conviction and security). But many times, we are in a position to dispassionately stay above the controversy and be the voice of reason and perspective.

This is one of those posts I'll archive and re-read for myself occasionally.

Camping 2005

We're back from a week at Allegany State Park in New York. Twenty-three Dashes and relatives invaded the park for about a week. Yikes! The week started out okay once we got past the border with our Canadian beef. The customs agent almost pulled us over before deciding that we were good to go. Forget terrorism, those steaks are a national security threat. I did better than one of my relatives, who was detained for an hour. Our normal camping pattern was broken. We did all the same things (hikes, beach, campfires) but the best part was time with family. It's rare to be able to spend that kind of time with the extended family. We laughed, even though our stories are getting really tired. In the future we should just number them and yell out "Story 14!" and start laughing. The nieces and nephews already roll their eyes. The major excitement came on my birthday, and I had little to do with it. My mother took a walk just as a sudden thunderstorm blew in right over us. She eventually showed up completely drenched but safe, giving us yet another story to tell in future years. It will be embellished as time goes by but she gave us a lot to start with. My birthday was actually just one of those days where weird stuff kept happening. There is nothing like spending time with a family where there are no tensions to speak of, and a great deal of comfort. This is all the more amazing when we realize we beat a lot of odds having been raised by a single parent. We've been blessed. Thanks to Pete for burning the popcorn, to David for teaching us alternate ways to find nourishment, to Liz for showing other women the right way to camp at night, and to Meredith for teaching us the importance of rubber gloves while camping. Thanks to David for teaching us about how to ask for more from our doctors and to Kevin for demonstrating the fine art of ventriloquism. Thanks to Fi for counting our kids at the beach while David was counting his beverages. Thanks also to the local ice cream shop for making their $1.50 small cone three whopping scoops. No thanks to the beach guards who got a little out of control with their rules. Hope to be able to camp together again. Here's proof that the Charlene and I and the kids were still standing at the end of the week.

Engaging issues

I just finished writing a couple of reviews of Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, which are sadly out of date already, given the events of the past day. The book now sits at my office, where I won't be back for a week. I wish I had it back today so I could reread it! McLaren writes:
Dr. D. A. Carson has written a critical review of emergent, and of my work in particular. Dr. Al Mohler and others have praised and quoted Carson's book in reviews and articles of their own. Unfortunately, in a number of ways their reviews misrepresent and misjudge my writings, thinking, and beliefs - and those of my friends. A number of scholars are responding to these critiques.
I do hope that he will clarify where he has been misrepresented. Although hard, I think this will benefit the entire conversation that is taking place. Note, by the way, that McLaren has given Carson's book three stars at Amazon:
I've given the book 3 stars because, although I believe the book misinterprets my friends and me on some important points, it opens up important space for dialogue - and it offers some criticism which will be constructive and helpful. The book concludes with the hope that those of us in the emergent conversation will be open to correction, and I hope readers will be assured that we welcome critique, and will seek to learn from it all we can.
On that note, I am encouraged whenever friendly critique takes place. Rather than being a breech of community, it is the essence of community (real community values truth as much as it does love, and surfaces and deals with issues appropriately). I hope we can continue to foster and welcome disagreement and healthy discussion, even when it's uncomfortable for us. When it hurts, I hope we can re-affirm our respect and love for one another but still refuse to be threatened by a movement that values truth just as much as it does love. That is the essence of true community.

Forge update

Lots of reaction to the Forge document: Jordon posts some concerns - "...we still do a lousy job of talking to each other...I wonder what kind of paper Hirch and Frost would have written had Brian's input been a part of it. This isn't about division in the church or differening theological worldviews or being American vs. being Aussie. It is about showing the world a different way of resolving our differences." Hirsch (co-author of the Forge document) clarifies - "Please be assured that what we have written is not a dismissal of Emergent and certainly not a distancing from Brian McLaren and what he stands for. I have immense and abiding respect, nay, reverence, for Brian. Our primary concern in drafting this document was to try and distinguish elements that make us different in terms of nuance and focus in order to try offset the collateral damage on the Australian missional church that has, and is, sadly taking place due to Carson's book." Tony Jones (co-ordinator of Emergent USA) responds to Hirsch - " the posting of position papers really the way that we want the global EC conversation to continue?" Points of agreement: McLaren is held in high esteem; Carson's assessment misrepresents the emerging church at points (although I think it would be helpful for McLaren to outline these); there are some differences of theology within the ec; this is a discussion among friends. The real question seems to be what type of public debate is acceptable over issues (not personalities) within the emerging church - a seemingly important question for something that claims to be a conversation. After all, McLaren's books are a "position paper" of sorts (position papers don't have to be against someone or something). I tend to lean toward more openness and public debate over ideas rather than less, so it's hard for me to be discouraged about this - but I'm open to your comments. Update: Stephen Shields weighs in with some good insights.