The 10 Questions
The book I’m now working on is one that is seen as embodying a lot of the emerging church movement. If forced to pick a single leader of the emerging church, then the majority of people would pick its author, Brian McLaren. The introduction I read last night is very straightforward and blunt, which I really appreciate. Something I learned from my previous read The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why is that a lot of people are emerging even though they don’t say so. Some don’t really realize it, and others do but are too diplomatic to outright say that there are problems in the church. McLaren is definitely not too diplomatic. I already completely understand how some people condemn him – it is downright offensive if you are too attached to your own idea of church, and it is downright heretical if you consider your idea of church to be the only right idea of church.
Upon reading the introduction last night, I felt it would be much more suitable to blog it in sections instead of attempting to cover everything at the end. The reason is not just because it seems like he is going to cover a lot of ground, but also because he provides a nice break-down into ten questions himself. I would agree with him that these are essentially the ten questions that the church has to face right now in determining just what Christianity will be – and if it will be at all – 100 years from now. Those ten questions (with some rewording):
- The narrative question: What is the overarching story line of the Bible? Instead of picking and choosing little convenient quotes which shrinks the text and us with it, we need to look at what the big picture is.
- The authority question: How should the Bible be understood? This ties into one of the themes I mentioned in my last post on The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Every major shift in the church’s history has been a question of authority, and this major shift we’re on the verge of is no different. How are we supposed to read the Bible?
- The God question: is God violent? I love that this is on here as a pacifist, and I do agree that the question of nonviolence is quickly becoming a major question about how we understand God.
- The Jesus question: Who is Jesus and why is he important? Throughout history and even today, there is a multitude of portraits of Jesus. Even the four Gospels aren’t the same portrait (although not contradictory portraits).
- The gospel question: What is the gospel? Is it liberation? Is it not going to Hell? Is Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom of God fundamentally different from Paul’s Gospel of justification by faith?
- The church question: What do we do about the church? What are we doing right, and what do we need to change?
- The sex question: Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it? The church has pretty much always – other than maybe the first few centuries – had a problem with sex. What does God tell us about sexuality and what does that mean for us?
- The future question: Can we find a better way of viewing the future? Many eschatological views are self-fulfilling prophecies – if we believe Israel must exist as a state in order to escape this evil world, we will work to make Israel a state. So what is an eschatology that would move us to a more just and loving future?
- The pluralism question: How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions? I tackled this a bit in my post Views of Other Religions. Is Jesus the only way? And is the Christian religion the only way? Can we have a unique and a universal Christ without excluding those outside the Christian religion?
- The what-do-we-do-now question: How can we translate our quest into action? As I’ve asked before: What is the Emerging Church emerging to? What do we do with the answers to all these questions? How does it radically change our lives? And can we introduce this new kind of Christianity without simply causing more needless division?