Monthly Archives: October 2006

experience and the Bible

N. T. Wright invests some thoughts about postmodernity in his book about the authority of Scripture… here are a couple of quotes that I am thinking about…

on experience as authority
“… though this has never been accepted within official formulations, many church leaders now speak of “scripture, tradition, reason and experience” as though the well-known three-legged stool had now been upgraded by the addition of another leg of the same type as the other three.” (Last, p.100)


“Adding a fourth leg to a three-legged stool often makes it unstable.” (p. 101)


“Indeed, the stress on “experience” has contributed materially to that form of pluralism, verging on anarchy, which we now see across the Western world.” (p.102)

then after all that, he offers a different approach…

“We could put it like this. “Experience” is what grows by itself in the garden. “Authority” is what happens when the gardener wants to affirm the goodness of the genuine flowers and vegetables by uprooting the weeds in order to let beauty and fruitfulness triumph over chaos, thorns and thistles. An over-authoritarian church, paying no attention to experience, solves the problem by paving the garden with concrete. An over-experiential church solves the problem of concrete by letting anything and everything grow unchecked, sometimes labeling concrete as “law” and so celebrating any and every weed as “grace.” (p. 104)

finally, I add this quote…

“When, through letting scripture be the vechile of God’s judging and healing authority in our communities and individual lives, we really do “experience” God’s affirmation, then we shall know as we are known” (p. 105)

quotes from The Last Word

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basic idea

over on my course blog, i posted this very basic idea

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resources I’ve used so far

Here are some resources that I am using to try to learn about this topic:

Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (details forthcoming)
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (details forthcoming)

While standing in the philosophy section of Barnes and Noble, I was looking through these volumes. I bought these to update my library and found myself following the “links”and reading scores of articles about the terms, times and people of postmodernism, my journey began in earnest. And while I like to visit Cambridge more that Oxford each spring, I like the Oxford dictionary better.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” (on line)
When you print this article on postmodernism, it is fifteen pages long, so don’t kill too many trees (did I really just write that?) I have not, to be honest read the article word for word. But in scanning it I saw many of the same points, yet in more detail than in my earlier reading, as the dictionaries. The click to the article pays of with the first sentence.

“Postmodernity and Theology” in Christian Theology by Millard Erikson, Baker, 2nd Ed. 1997
This is the second edition of the text I used (1st ed.) in seminary and have used over and again. When Laci asked me to get it for him last year, I noticed the new chapter on postmodernity. I recently read this chapter and found it helpful as Erickson gives a thorough but concise survey of modernism which is really essential to understand that which postmodernism is against, anti, after…

“The Vanished Horizion” in The Universe Next Door by James Sire, IVP, 1997
After having read several pieces, I was ready for this. Sire is thick and puts a lot on a page. But he presents the material in such a way that one can see the progression from what was to what is now. Some of his arguments at the end of the chapter seem a bit pat, but… they seem to work too… very helpful to me in synthesizing much of the material I had already read.

The Last Word by N. T. Wright, HarperSanFrancisco 2005
Since authority and knowledge and truth are such important topics in this realm of inquiry, I suggest the follower of Christ read this book. Wright gives an interesting perspective on the authority of Scripture and how it must be understood in context of both the time it was written and the time it is read.

Paul by N. T. Wright, Fortress Press, Mineapolis, 2005
Apparantly to some, this is a controversial volume, but I’ve thought it helpful, there is just a little within that is applicable to this conversation in “Jesus, paul and the Task of the Church” where Wright draws us a picture of how the church should act and work in the face of the changing culture?

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why this blog?

well, my work is with post moderns… several, maybe most of my colleagues are too… so a dialogue between texts and people who are post modern may prove helpful to an old modernist like me

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serving post moderns is launched

this blog will be a conversation about serving post moderns… it will investigate post modernity and those who think according to it to the end that they may be understood better and therefor, served with the gospel

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Jesus Camp

Last night I joined a few people at the Virginia Film Festival and saw the documentary “Jesus Camp.” I was troubled at several levels by this documentary. Here are some things that are bugging me:

Why did these people allow such access to their private worship? Are they so foolish to think that a documentary would further the cause of Christ or their cause? Did they think that Jesus would be served? Did they expect thier context and culture and theology to be explained? I differentiate because while they may be well meaning and devoted to God, their stuff really shows through in this film as being ill thought out. Thought? hmmm…

It irks me that both the film and the “moderators” (who were really commentators from UVa… lots of balance… yeah, right) failed to differentiate between groups as terms were thrown around: Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Pentecostal. Giving the Religious Studies prof her due, she did, when I asked, define the terms for the audience… she did clarify that Fundamentalists (over against fundamentalists, that difference will have to be another post) would never be caught dead in Jesus Camp as they have some very differing views. THIS IRKS ME because people ignorant of the different branches of Evangelicalism are being portrayed and represented by the figures in Jesus Camp. If Evangelicalism is an apple pie (‘cuz it is American – ugh) then the guys of the Jesus Camp ilk are one bit of apple in the pie (if that)… one of my colleagues there thinks they are a whole slice… I disagree, if they are a slice, then a very thin sliver of a slice, indeed. Jesus Camp DOES NOT represent the vast majority of Jesus followers.

Now that I have ranted, here are some places you can go to see and hear more perspectives… first… the trailer

next, ABC has a report you can view that will give you a taste of the film and it furthers my thesis that Jesus Camp is a picture of all followers of Jesus. Again, I contend, it is not.

last, one of the people portrayed in the film is a preacher by the name of Ted Haggard, he has responded on a sponsored web page that they apparently paid to have Google show it first when you Google “Jesus Camp”…

Okay, I doubt if this blog has seem the last of this topic… Unfortunately.

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