Friday, April 28, 2006

Which Hell?

I had found myself prepared to dismiss much of the emerging church discussion. Some of the voices and thier distance from orthodoxy led me to turn my back. Then I had lunch with one.

On Tuesday, at the National Conference on Preaching with Pete and Scott, We went to eat with Doug Pagitt, a leading voice in the movement and the pastor of Solomon's Porch, kindof. As it happens, he and Pete played basketball together in undergrad and I am so very thankful to have been included. Three hours later, we finally re-entered the conference.

Doug is fascinating, both in his sincerity of pursuit and in his courage of conviction. While we differ in our views on the early expressions of Christianity and the roles of scripture and authority, it was a wonderfully stimulating discussion and at times convicting. I have held a silent belief that those on the edges would take us back to discussions of myth and would fade from the scene, but Doug changed my view. We cannot merely form our positions and step away. We must engage.

He forced me beyond my categories and it stirred things up both in my home and in my early morning Greek class. Some of the emerging leaders are challenging the ideas of orthodoxy and the expression of a single form of Christianity. Doug would be more comfortable to speak of various Christian expressions appearing in differing regions during the first few centuries. I would have been more comfortable to speak of heresy error. He would attribute the efforts of the early fathers to silence early dissenters to both fear of loss and an overt influence of Greco-Roman philosophy. In Greek on Thursday, a Latin reference led to a linguistic question I honestly thought would last only a few seconds. It lit a spark in Dr. J and I was surprised to find yet another passionate voice in facing the issues of postmodernism and the nature of truth and authority (Dr. E later that morning; I already knew about Dr. K).

It seems we have all been wanting to ignore the gospel of Judas--some have even ridiculed it. But our emerging friends are paying close attention and even embracing the questions. To those on the outside, confused by the Da Vinci code, they look like heroes. This is a discussion we must enter. An arena that cannot be ignored. As Dieter Zander echoed on Tuesday, I don't think postmodernism is the destination; it is the change to a new culture we can not yet see. If we're not careful, we will lose the ability to help frame the discussion as we move into this new place. I asked Doug about ideas of separation and judgment. He quickly went to my real question--"Do you believe in Hell?" He replied, "Which Hell--the place of the dead in the Old Testament, the chasm of Abraham's bosom or the lake of fire in Revelation?"

I fear in Doug an absence of any source of authority outside his community. He fears in me a reliance on boundaries set for a different age and a blind trust in the authorities of the past. This is a conversation that must be had. And it must be had with brothers and sisters who are sincere in their pursuit of Christ, even if we wouldn't always agree on exactly what that means. I've know for a long time that we came to seminary to prepare for the postmoderns. It seems I'm too late. Doug, if you see this, then thank you. I would love to follow up with another lunch someday--on me.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Verizon Update

At last, it only took three hours to get the router working... As it happens, most of what was on the Verizon site was invalid as was most of what was online. I have a great router even though an hour with Linksys tech support couldn't fix it either. Verizon does this strange thing with MAC cloning that lets you bypass the modem without them having to actually alter anything and it only took me two nights to figure it out... But it's working!!

I have another surgical procedure tomorrow. They're stretching (actually, breaking) my esophagus first thing in the morning. Last time, I ended up in the ER for several hours, so let's pray this one goes a bit better.

Cody, we'll chat about U2 sometime (and I'm listening to a lot of Coldplay lately). But I can't rat out my friend! Feel free to send me the research, but I'm still going to be a fan--I just won't worship them (wink)!

Prayer rquest: Craig Hamlow wants me to come speak in Alaska the same week I'm going to the Catalyst conference in Atlanta (that I've been excited about all year). He's praying it will fall through! Personally, I'm torn.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Verizon and Stuff

Sorry we're so behind, but our internet is down at home. We tried to change providers in March and found that we had to cancel our other account first (apparently we're the first ones to ever change providers and they don't feel the need to tell you they can't take over the lines for you). So, now that that's done, we spent 1.5 hours (honest) on the phone with Verizon Monday. After speaking with 8 people (honest) to see why we still had not been connected, someone said they had a hardware issue and had bumped our service ready date--without telling us, of course. However, they assure me that they may send emails out to people who don't have service. Anyway, we should be up by Monday. Somewhere in the middle of all that, the Verizon Fiber Optic people came by the house with a really sweet deal. Now it's kind of a race to see which Verizon branch (that doesn't speak to the other one) gets us set up first. Of course, the FiOS people haven't called back yet. Surprise! There. That felt good. I'll repent later.

UPDATE: 4-20-2006
Lo and behold, we had service last night when I got home. However, the modem they send is not configured to work with a router and Verizon forces the installation of proprietary software (after i was connected, I found out how to avoid that). SO, I worked until 2 trying to configure the modem to work with our router. Verizon has instructions, but they are incomplete (They leave things out, like the password you need to log onto the modem. Fortunately, you can find it through Google). But it still isn't working. Once you re-configure it, it cannot be hooked directly to the computer, so if the router setup isn't working (and it isn't), then you can't get online to do more research. You have to reset the modem and then reconnect everything. Not fun. I gave up and will begin again tonight. I'll probably have to reset my router and lose my encrypted connection to my laptop. Oh well. The good thing is it's a lot faster than they actually promise--a nice bonus since they force you through the beginner's installation and don't allow an express install (unless you think to Google it and find out about the online set-up which I didn't think to do).

But, I'm in a great mood and the trials of this week (not this one--the one I can't blog about) have actually been energizing and even encouraging.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


We're heading to East Texas this weekend for our spring retreat. We call it the crossover weekend because we bring the 6th grade and start building relationships with them--I hope to eventually link to the promo videos our interns (Seth's blog is here but he uses his hidden student worship team blog almost exclusively now; Allie doesn't have a blog...yet) made because they're just funny (look at the Emerald Nuts TV spots and they'll be even funnier). Of course, I don't have them yet, so, here are some tidbits:

1-Someone on our team--whom we all know but whose name I hate to put on the internet--accidentally forgot to finalize our bus contracts and found out about it on Friday. It made her (oops, it was a she) nauseous but made us laugh. we've given her plenty of grief and many encouraging and clever comments so she's doing much better now. Remarkably, she solved the problem even though every bus in north Texas is rented out for the race weekend. Now we just need drivers for about 17 vans!

2-We segment the 8th grade on this weekend and talk about s-e-x. The goal was to replace our old purity weekend with something the parents would have an easier time talking their kids into. We did a much better job communicating that this year. We've got over 80 8th graders coming and it's going to be very cool (I think this might be a popular topic). And the parents know exactly what we're talking about (explicit content warning on the flyer and everything). I'm still a little gun-shy (and wiser) from last year, but I'm committed. Lisa and Tim, you'll appreciate that the guy time/gal time is almost identical to what we used to do with high schoolers.