Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prologue: We Did NOT Start Out baptist

My wife and I haven’t always been ‘baptist. We were raised in the conservative evangelical non-denominational tradition of the North American suburbs. When we entered Fuller Theological Seminary in '05, finding a ‘[b]aptist’ theology was the furthest thing from our minds. We just happened to run into James McClendon’s baptist vision along the way. Or better: the baptist vision ran into us—-and we are, indeed, captivated by his vision of authentic Christianity!

Labels like ‘baptist’ [or ‘anabaptist’] and ‘postmodern’ can be harmful because they carry an awful lot of baggage for certain Christians. They are, what McClendon calls, contested concepts, meaning different things to different people. But these 'brands' of Christianity take a couple steps in the right direction toward describing the thought and lifestyle of our faith. We firmly believe that the old dualistic categories that modernity has given the church and society (either 'conservative' and 'liberal') are no longer helpful in understanding faith in this increasingly complex world. In addition, we believe that a more holistic understanding of faith, one that embraces mystery and listens to the diverse 'other', is more at home in the world of the New Testament.

I write this brief disclaimer because, at the outset of our academic theological journey, we weren't looking for a theology with a ‘[B]aptist’ agenda nor are we trying to convert anyone to bear that label. We have simply been compelled by McClendon’s baptist vision and this blog is an attempt to share it with those others who are looking for deeper and fresher ways of describing what it means to follow the crucified and risen Lord today. We believe that there are many sincere followers of Jesus who have a hunch that there must be a more authentic way to be 'Christian' than the popular brands on offer today.

For a more descriptive analysis of what words like 'anabaptist' and 'postmodern' mean, go to the GLOSSARY blog in the index.

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