Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Glossary of the baptist Vision

A Sampling of McClendon’s Unique Terms/Phrases

anabaptism (see also "the baptist vision")
neither Protestant nor Catholic--this 500 year tradition seeks to challenge contemporary Christian communities with the original revolution of Jesus and his band of followrs: a radical way-of-life characterized by simple living, enemy love, nonviolent resistence, suffering service and a practical witness to the surrounding culture

authority, three types of (Doctrine, 477-481):
authority on—bible scholars, theologians, church historians—the experts that enlighten the community on a variety of issues, concepts, topics in the Great Story of God and His people

authority in—church leaders (including, but NOT a hierarchy: secretaries, teachers, administrators, elders, pastors, deacons, etc) who, in diverse ways, speak authority into the lives of members of the community

criterial authority—the voice and decision-making of the people of the community

the baptist vision (Ethics, 35)
the unique style of Christianity descended from the Radical Reformation of the 16th C., neither Catholic nor Protestant; "following" Jesus (not ‘faith’ or ‘belief’) is the emphasis; five distinctives include: biblical (story of Scripture is our story), mission (responsibility for costly witness), liberty (freedom to obey God without state help or hindrance), discipleship (life transformed into obedience to Jesus’ lordship) and community (daily sharing in the vision)

catechresis (Doctrine, 107)
the deliberate use of language drawn from one sphere of life in order to indicate something in another sphere that eludes existing speech. The New Testament writers employed various words/concepts from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greco-Roman culture in an attempt to explain the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah—-the new reality created by the Risen One—-i.e., Jewish law (justify), holy rite (sanctify), medical healing/military rescue (heal/save), kinship (adopt, wed), life processes (born/reborn), commercial exchange (redeem/reconcile)

Constantinianism (Ethics, 42)
the fateful political shift that led the church to cling to the hope of the state after Constantine’s rise to power in the 4th Century—-the Empire presented itself no longer as the Christians’ enemy but as the very kingdom of God (the bad guys became anyone who opposed imperial church and ‘Christian’ Empire in their holy union)—-this shift has dreadfully compromised the Church

conversation partners (Ethics, 36-37)
God, having created the human variety, wants us to theologize in varied ways—-theology is a dialogue with others from differing contexts, methods and assumptions—-this pluralism should not be confused with "relativism" or "laissez-faire subjectivism" because it is a dialogue between Christian communities that encounter other Christian communities for mutual witness and critical correction—-of course, there is plenty of room, too, for dialogue with communities outside of the Christian umbrella

convictions (Ethics, 22; Doctrine, 29)
"the gutsy beliefs I live out"; less readily expressed, but more tenaciously held than opinions; deeply self-involving and not easily relinquished—-from convictions flow attitudes, beliefs, intentions and practices

crossing over (Witness, 378)
the deliberate choice of some from each people to connect with a congregation of the other people—European Americans choosing to join an African American community—-an intentional strategy to live out Eph 2:14f and Gal 3:27 (and the cross of Jesus and Pentecost) in light of centuries of Christian failure!

decisionism (Ethics, 58)
the strong emphases in the modern period on the will and interiorization of each individual Christian—-it is a view of ethics that exalts deliberate moral quandaries and the right responses—-this is critiqued by a narrative emphasis on ethics that is highlighted by Matthew 25’s judgment parable where the righteous are exonerated, not by "deliberate decisions," but instead by "their unreckoned generosity, their uncalculating love, their aimless faithfulness"

dual reference (Witness, 179)
contemporary art’s ability to speak of the world as it is (with its joys and sorrows) and, simultaneously, to speak of the world that art creates (where joy overflows and fellowship is unflawed)

ethical strands (Ethics, 62-67)
biblical morality viewed as a multi-stranded rope—-the whole rope is nothing but the strands, yet none of them alone can do what the rope does—-we relate with God (and everything else there is) as created beings (the embodied strand), as social persons (the social strand), and as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus (the resurrection strand)

experience (Ethics, 38-39; Doctrine, chapter 10)
what we have lived through and lived out in company with one another, the experience that constitutes our share in the Christ story—-the enduring or timely aspect of our lives in relation to God and one another; as plot and character in some setting, it is the stuff of narrative. Every theology is linked to some narrative; successful theology, knowing this, discovers and renovates its own narrative base—-"evangelical experience" should always be accountable to the interpretation of Scripture in community

foreshortening (Doctrine, 105)
when Scripture compresses the end-pictures (heaven/hell, rule of God, judgment, etc) making them imminent, already upon us—-the last things ("the end times")are here NOW

full faithfulness (Doctrine, 123, 270, 273)
the focus on Jesus’ faithfulness to his cause and to God whom he knew as Father—-the renewal of the covenant with Israel (Jer 33) required an authenticator, one who by taking God’s way within the existing social order, affirmed God’s faithfulness toward Israel and opened the way toward God for followers drawn from all nations

identity documents (Ethics, 336; from Hans Frei, the late Yale professor)
reading the four Gospels as writings whose sense was to claim that the one present now in the church, the risen Lord Christ, is none other than the one told about in those very documents--this follows the centrality of the resurrection in all four Gospels, since that alone could explain this identity--in the Gospels, we read not about the Jesus "back then," but instead about the living Jesus NOW, with us

the Israel of God (Doctrine, 361-366)
based on Galatians 6:16, the full umbrella of God’s children—including Israel and the many denominations of Christians—-God’s people, in all their variety, who are a conscience and servant to the wider world (see also Romans 9-11; Eph 2:14f; Gal 3:7f)

meetingplace (Doctrine, 241)
wherever in common worship disciples meet their Lord—"For where two or three meet together in my name, I am there" (Mt 18:20)--these places of worship are infinitely diverse--God shows up just about everywhere!

narrative ethics (Ethics, 330)
the critical analysis of the moral life of those who share in a certain ongoing real story—-it investigates, analyzes, criticizes a way of life, a morality, that is itself story-formed (the opposite of decisionism: see above)

"the new in Christ" (Doctrine, Chapter 3)
an understanding of salvation in the midst of the rule of God as God breaks into human life with a new order, a fulfillment, that transforms everyday life; ultimately, "the new in Christ" is what the disciples (Apostles) grappled to communicate in the days, weeks & years following their Messiah’s crucifixion and resurrection—-their recognition that Jesus’ story that had engaged them was not ended by his death, but instead there was a new beginning, a whole new era, a revolution to be lived out in this world

perspectivism (Witness, chapter 1)
the idea that we should value and critique each cultural perspective through loving dialogue and discerning wisdom in community--opposed to the weak options of cultural relativism, cultural apartheid and cultural imperialism

this blog represents a theology based on a philosophical move away from modernity, the project started with Descartes (ca. 1650) which was characterized by the quest for certainty, an unchallengable foundation (an 'inerrant' Bible?), a claim for neutral objectivity and the placement of logic, reason and science on the throne of truth; McClendon's thought emerges from this cul-de-sac, proposing a different biblical "reading strategy" and moving beyond the dualistic liberal and conservative options of the 20th century Christian faith, while rejecting "relativistic" and "imperialistic" truth claims

powerful practices (Ethics, 173-177)
the virtually infinite social powers that organize/systematize society; ie, family, marriage, government, military, free market capitalism, the country club and, yes, religious institutions such as the church; these powers work for good and/or evil in a multitude of ways—-the community that follows Jesus, indeed, is a powerful practice that is engaged with society: ?the task of Christians confronting a world of powerful practices requires almost infinite adjustments, distinctions and gradations"

presence (Ethics, 106)
a highly underrated Christian virtue: the quality of being there for and with another person; being one’s self for someone else; it is refusing the temptation to withdraw mentally and emotionally; but it is also, on occasion, putting our own body’s weight and shape alongside the neighbor, the friend, the lover in need

principle of fallibility (Ethics, 42)
even one’s most cherished and tenaciously held convictions might be false and are in principle always subject to rejection, reformulation, improvement, or reformation

proximate authorities (Doctrine, 458)
the human side of authority for our lives, always answerable to God’s ultimate authority; McClendon lists three: evangelical experience, Scripture and community

reading strategy (Doctrine, 45; 463-477)
The way the bible is read by those who (1) accept the plain sense of Scripture as its dominant sense and recognize their continuity with the story it tells, and who (2) acknowledge that finding "the point" of that story leads them to its application, and who also (3) see past and present and future linked by a "this is that" and "then is now" vision…binding the story now to the story then, and the story then and now to God’s future yet to come…"the Jesus Christ who then rose, truly rose and appeared to the disciples in the breaking of bread is present now and does appear to us in our kingdom work and our spiritual worship, in our witness—and in this very word. It tells us the Gospel resurrection narratives both witness to what happened then and stake a claim on what happens now. It tells us his risen presence then coheres with his risen presence now; it is its determinative forerunner; it is its cause. It tells us his presence is the very matrix of the intelligibility of this word and of our world. It is under the hermeneutic guidance of this vision that authentic scriptural authority appears." [466]

self-involving (Ethics, 40)
the theologian’s (every Christian’s!) proposals require testing at every stage by actual participation in the common life

soaring (Doctrine, chapter 9)
the last stage of the life of a growing follower of Jesus; the Christian is "perfected" through communal engagement and discernment

syzygy (Doctrine, 447-449)
the full unity of the Spirit-filled community achieved without the cancellation of the individual; no participant is absorbed into the whole, yet none flourishes in isolation, but each interacts in love—this is achieved by confronting each living human being with the reality of life in the risen Christ, displaying the way of his cross, accepting the uniqueness of each, and inviting from each a response that can be made only by the power of the Spirit of love

theology (Ethics, 23)
the discovery, understanding, and transformation of the convictions of a convictional community, including the discovery and critical revision of their relation to one another and to whatever else there is

Truly Human One (Doctrine)
translation of what most English New Testaments describe as "the Son of Man," the controversial, ambiguous label most used for Jesus by the Gospel writers; Jesus is the faithful one who lives out God’s intended story in this world, bringing together creation, redemption, mission and, in the future, consummation

two-narrative Christology (Doctrine, 276)
a critique of the two-nature Christology developed by the early church councils ("two natures Christology has had its day, and we need not return to it save as to a monument of what has gone before")—-the two stories, of divine self-expense and human investment, of God reaching to people even before people reach to God, of a God who gives in order to be able to receive, and a humanity that receives so that it shall be able to give—-these two stories are indivisibly one in Jesus—-this story becomes gospel, becomes good news, when we discover that it is our own!

virtues (Ethics, chapter 6)
skills for living—-every community inhabits a tradition based on a narrative with corresponding practices—-virtues are simply skills that enable the community to perform these practices more effectively

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