Friday, February 29, 2008

2nd Post from the Pastors Convention

Picture here is Shane Claiborne, talking about his new book, "Jesus for President."

Big Ideas

You've probably heard me mention NT Wright in some of my sermons over the last year. He's an Anglican Bishop and a prominent English theologian who has stirred no small amount of controversy because of some of his ideas and interpretations. He's been the speaker here for the last 2 sessions, mixed in with lots of music, comedy and other fun stuff. When he gets up to preach or, more accurately, lecture, he's like a fire hyrdant being opened up full throttle. He doesn't do much pleasantry stuff, but just lets loose. Last night, when the hydrant of his teaching opened, he flooded the room. I've never seen anyone preach like him. It isn't his style that's amazing, it's the speed, the force, the ideas, the sheer volume (amount, not loudness), of it. He explodes all over with thoughts and images that are new and amazing. Although there are things I don't completely agree with or maybe understand, he's very powerful and thought-provoking. Not in a charismatic way, but a very spiritual, intellectual, blow-you-into-new-territory kind of way. For any of you who are interested, I recorded his talks and you're free to listen to them when I return. I can burn them on a cd for you.
The first night I arrived in San Diego, I spotted NT Wright on Nightline (I think- or another late night thing, but I'm fairly certain it was Nightline). They have a “Faith” segment they've been doing, and maybe you saw him too. He talked about one of his “radical” ideas that says Christians have the whole idea of the afterlife wrong. Of course they tried to make him seem more edgy than he really is by highlighting Wright's belief that when we die we don't live forever in heaven. Instead he looks at passages like Revelation 21 that talk about the “New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” - and he says that's an image of heaven on earth; eternity on a newly created earth. That may seem like splitting apocalyptic hairs, but the thing that's radical about it is his view that eternity may be very different than what we've been taught in our culture/church. Instead of being a forever in heaven experience, singing God's praises for all time, NT interprets scripture to mean that eternity is about God's Kingdom coming to earth – the New Jerusalem coming out of heaven, and that perhaps it begins now as we work and live out Kingdom values. He very much believes in eternity, resurrection, resurrection bodies and eternal life, and heaven being a real place. What's different is “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven” points us to the possibility that God is starting this whole revolution of new creation now, not after some destruction of all creation and God starting over. And you and I, our church and our individual lives, are meant by God to be little glimpses of God's re-creation of all thing beginning now, not later after we die. As little chunks of a new creation, we are put together by God to be building blocks in a whole new created world. It is quite scriptural, but not exactly the way the bible has been interpreted for a long time. Christians are windows for others into God's new recreation, at our best. Our problem is that, as windows, we're quite foggy. All of this has things to say about our priorities, our resources, our vision for who we are and what we are to do - now.
Anyway, I probably risk making him sound like something he's not – but I believe he's right on target. I'd enjoy the chance to share more with you when I return.
Otherwise, I haven't been out much! Just going to seminars and buying my year's supply of books and supplies for church – everything is half price here.
In the next few days I'll be doing some planning for future worship and sermons; visiting my brother in LA; checking out Loyola University, (where Amanda has been accepted, but isn't yet sure she wants to attend) and if I get up the chutzpah, I may venture out to the surf for the closest I'll ever get to walking on water.
I'll keep you posted on my adventures if I can locate continual internet access. Grace to you this week as you seek to be little windows of God's new creation.
If you want to see or hear more about the convention I've attended, check out: - this is their blog. Let me know if you spot me in any of the pictures...
- Curtis

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Thanks for posting!