Simply profound

Ever find something hard to understand – or is it only me? I was once told that truth is both simple and yet profound. Sometimes though getting hold of what someone is saying / writing is not always so easy. Words used, and wait for it, the ‘presuppositional pool’ might mean we don’t quite get it. In this post I am going to recommend a video and a post from two important contributors in the realm of theology and its application.

I am grateful for Roger Mitchell’s work and also for having the privilege to dialogue with him so (I think) I have some grasp on his important writings. In his introduction to the video that appears below he writes:

If you find me hard to read as some do, although by no means all, then this talk will help hugely!! As an activist I find it s much easier to make sense at a popular level when I’m in context hands on. Here I am!

There is so much meat in the talk and his explanation of why he pursued his PhD is very clear. He came at it with three questions:

  • why do the rich and powerful always end up at the top?
  • why is it the same way in the church?
  • and why has the church actively supported / endorsed and strengthened that scenario?

Let the ‘ouch’ of those three questions sink in and then here is the link to the video:

The second post I suggest that is more than worth a read is one by Andrew Perriman. The opening paragraph reads:

Here I want to try and answer some questions sent to me by someone who grew up in the “reformed, fundamental, SBC” tradition but has spent the best part of the last year deconstructing his faith “down to nothing.” He has been reading the work of historically-minded interpreters like Pete Enns and NTWright, but has been having a hard time finding a way forward. His faith is sinking. “I currently don’t see any reason to be a Christian or to continue in the Christian way.”

Sinking faith feeling

I do not find and agreement with the perspective that Christendom is the fulfilment of the hope that God is acknowledged as Lord of the nations, so on that I do not go along with Andrew, but his writings and his insistence on the narrative shaping theology is invaluable. This post I reference above will help enormously in understanding this.

2 thoughts on “Simply profound

  1. Obviously it is not a coincidence that I have seen both of the links just because I usually follow along with both sources, even if at a distance. I won’t comment on Roger’s video except to say that what I find important in this piece is not his argument, which is familiar and amenable, but the setting. Yes Andy Knox is there, of course, but it is the fact that this session is with a local community of activists and fellow strugglers, an audience way outside the academy.

    I would offer a couple of points, though, about that post by Andrew Perriman. You will have been every bit as attentive and questioning as any of Andrew’s correspondents (what a remarkable collection they are, still behaving so well after all these years) but that thought is true, I hope, of me as well and I am not sure you have this bit right. There is, partly because of steering around known rocks in the shallows, a group of issues that he has never really taken on in depth and the implications of later history upon Christendom, as with the development of ‘What Now?’ responses, although he has been picking up on this latter recently. But then the later history is not his subject or his expertise so perhaps this is not hard to understand.

    Where I would put a question is does Andrew say that “Christendom is the fulfillment of the hope that God is acknowledged as Lord of the nations”? Given that Christendom was rather a big thing that covered a lot of territory for quite a long time, that would be an unusually reckless claim. Where he is clear, in the same way that contemporary church leaders were clear. The process seen from the popular position, the ‘conversion’ of Constantine, the top-down imposition of a novel religious magisterium and the inevitable struggles to weave these new power structures into an already friable hybrid theology, all combine to one view. Seeing all of this as the fulfillment of NT prophecy of the coming Kingdom is, I think, far less controversial. Of course the leading thinkers saw it this way, proclaimed it as such, praised God for it. ‘This is that which was spoken of’ had never been more evident since 70CE. None of this, however, has anything to say directly about later events and shifts.

    I suspect that both historically and to a greater extent theologically is what, for some, is the awful possibility that these events were both the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecies and that they eventually, at least to a significant degree, failed in spite of their being such a fulfillment. This takes us back to points upon which you have shed much light. The nature and import of the prophetic. The commonly confused expectation that this prophetic stream was to usher-in the perfect and permanent transformation of human society (or heaven if you are really romantic) lies beneath the surface, and perhaps that is the problem.

    Like you I also appreciate Andrew’s rigour and insistence that we need to read the Bible forwards. That it is now time (or late) that we should subject the drift of our history and theology to assess where on that map of history the church now stands in the light of that forward reading. And like you, although I admit my affection for this might be running away with me, I appreciate the recognition that the Bible has horizons that reach nowhere near as far as we (or history) have gone. Where I think we would agree is that however we measure this trajectory, the changes it has brought have put us, in practical and theological terms, in uncharted territory and, even more importantly, have changed the nature of our responsibility and our relationships both with the text and the tradition.

    1. Thanks Chris. Without doubt the majority of those around (as far as we can make out) saw the Constantine shift as a major sign. Seeing it as a fulfilment should not be a surprise. After all I think we lived in an era when we saw a blip, such as a certain church movement, as the clearest fulfilment of eschatological realities!! If I put the two together – Constantine and new churches!! – maybe we need to be careful about our fulfilment claims.

      Then if we add in the kenarchy approach we might wish to suggest certain aspects are NOT fulfilments. That of course is a great challenge to the taking the mountains approach.

      Your comment though has also made an interesting comment on putting the two posts together. Interesting…

Comments are closed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!