MacIntyre And Church Renewal

Cover of

I came across this Alasdair MacIntyre quote not long ago and thought it was a fitting reflection for the much-discussed topic of church renewal. Part of MacIntyre’s point is to say that if a tradition is to overcome its own crisis of knowing, it will be through the revision of its narrative in light of its current cultural setting, together with its criteria for truth, by the hands of insiders to that tradition. This revision will never be final or complete, but always open-ended and ready for new changes. It seems to me that any account Convergent Friends can offer, or any other renewal movement within denominations (like Fresh Expressions, the Missional movement, the Emerging Church, etc) must always see itself as only “a best account so far.” MacIntyre writes:

When an epistemological crisis is resolved, it is by the construction of a new narrative, which enables the agent to understand both how he or she could intelligibly have held his or her original beliefs and how he or she could have been so drastically misled by them. The narrative is itself made into the subject of an enlarged narrative. The agent has come to understand how the criteria of truth and understanding must be reformulated. He had to become epistemologically self-conscious and at a certain point he may have come to acknowledge two conclusions: the first is that his new forms of understanding may themselves in turn come to be put in question at any time; the second is that, because in such crises the criteria of truth, intelligibility, and rationality may always themselves be put in question — as they are in Hamlet — we are never in a position to claim that now we possess the truth or now we are fully rational. The most we can claim is that this is the best account which anyone has been able to give so far, and that our beliefs about what the marks of “a best account so far” will themselves change in what are at present unpredictable ways. (MacIntyre 1980:56-57)

And elsewhere MacIntyre reflects on the importance that this “remix” of a tradition’s narrative within a new setting will have a fluid interplay with the past:

“For it is central to the conception of such a tradition that the past is never something merely to be discarded, but rather that the preset is intelligible only as a commentary upon and response to the past in which the past, if necessary and if possible, is corrected and transcended, yet corrected and transcended in a way that leaves the present open to being in turn corrected and transcended by some yet more adequate future point of view” (MacIntyre 1984:147).

Where have you personally witnessed these kinds of open-ended interactions taking place in today’s church?

Remixing Faith in the 21st Century (Barclay Press)

I’ve posted my June essay on Barclay press if you care to have a read (it’s nice and long!). Here’s and excerpt:

This past April Radiohead did another thing that sparked imaginations and challenged the preexisting structures of the music industry, yet again. They setup a website and invited people to remix one of their singles, “Nude.” Along with the invitation, they released the audio tracks containing the guitars, strings, drums, bass, and vocals through the iTunes music store. They invited people to participate in a contest to see who would make the best remix of their song, all the votes would be made by Radiohead fans (the winning remix received 38568 votes). By looking at remix culture, I think the church can learn something about how creativity and imagination interacts with existing ideas and structures and builds off those resources while also moving beyond them in new ways.

Click here to continue reading this essay.

Book Review: How (Not) To Speak of God – Peter Rollins with Special Offer

 Nstore Images Nineinch HownottospeakPeter Rollins founder of the Ikon Community , an emerging church in Ireland, has recently penned “How (Not) to Speak of God” (Peter Rollins).” It is a book that will be important for every church to wrestle with. Rollins writes as one who is both theologian/philosopher (he has a Ph.D. in Postmodern theory) and a practitioner. He is deeply involved in a church community that considers itself “iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging and failing.”

Continue reading Book Review: How (Not) To Speak of God – Peter Rollins with Special Offer

Emerging Church Resources: A Beginners Reference Guide

When people find out that I am one of Ryan Bolger’s understudies I get asked what I think of the emerging church and frequently what resources are good for people interested in finding out more about the Emerging church. In hopes of making a useful guide I’ve created a small list that is meant as a starting point for ideas, stories and theory about the church in the postmodern world.
Continue reading Emerging Church Resources: A Beginners Reference Guide