When I imagine what a generous orthodoxy can become, I realize I must seek to honor both conservative and liberal heroism. And when I do, I want to consider myself both liberal and conservative. I must learn from their mistakes, and when I do, I don’t want to be boxed in either category. Instead they can look up for a higher way and look ahead to the new fields of opportunity and challenge that stretch from here to the horizon….
In my own journey I was once characterized as a liberal, and my response was that I am only liberal if one takes a rather narrow slice of conservatism.
That is the trouble with labels — they are snapshots taken by someone else, usually with a macro lens and with a specific point of view. And yet labels are the stuff that Protestantism consists of.
So I greatly appreciate, and strive to copy in my own ministry, the inclusive, kind, non-polemical, post-protestant spirit I observe in Brian, in Jim Henderson, and in other “Revolutionaries” I am meeting.
Where are these attitudes taking us? As Brian put it, into new fields of opportunity. New fields that were anticipated, as usual, by the Master himself.
Matthew records a most amazing promise, a signed blank check that empowers all followers of Jesus, whatever label they answer to:
And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old
To me this means that any scribe or writer/teacher of the Word — (greek, grammateus) — is like a steward who is empowered to bring from the storehouse both old things and new. The old things, it seems to me, are what the Bible says directly, what we learn from the text itself … things that all disciples of Christ have seen more or less clearly. The new things, to my way of thinking, could be realizations about spiritual truths, about the fulfillment of prophecy in our own time, and insights into the character of God that come from our personal walk — meditations, interactions with others, etc. There is room here for the rational as well as the mystical/poetical insights that Brian writes about in the next chapter of AGO.
Knowing God is the very fountain and purpose of eternal life, and all who have experience with God, as students of his word, are enriched and empowered to record meaningful insights along their way. These are the sources of one type of the heroisms, plural, that Brian refers to (it seems to me), coming from both sides of the spiritual aisle.
Think of all the scribes, past and present, who have recorded their insights and yet whose works are lost to us because they were not part of our particular ism.
It is for this reason that I feel called to disregard sectarian fences and to pray to God for the strength to make the assembly and compilation and comparison of all these different heroic threads — writings from every Christian stream of thought — for the edification of the present and future generations of disciples. That is what my dream of the Grammateus Institute is all about.
For me, this is one of the great, new, fields of opportunity created by the convergence of Web 2.0 technology and an Emergent, Revolutionary ethos among Christian brothers and sisters.