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Blog Entries The Political

Anthony Smith on Not Voting as Violence?

Anthony Smith also known as for his blog “Musings of a Postmodern Negro” has written a great and thought-provoking post on voting from the perspective of black history and theology. He says:

Voting, as it is oftentimes seen by historically marginalized groups, is a precious gift. It is not seen, within the language game of the prophetic black church, as a form of violence. That voting is seen as means of violence can only come from Christians who don’t know what it is like to be without the gift. This is why the loudest voices for political disengagement on Gospel grounds tend to be of lighter hue. It is another form of advantage to eschew voting. I profoundly agree with Christians engaging in anti-imperial practices or pro-kingdom activities that give sign to another world in our midst. But understand my suspicion.

(Not Voting as Violence: Or Why I Get Suspicious When White Men Tell Me Not to Vote)

I encourage you to check out the rest of this post and as well as the comments. I appreciate his insight and his challenge to what seems like an increasingly popular “I’m not voting because I’m a Christian” position. As a side note, I appreciate David Fitch’s arguments as well (see the link in the quote) and I agree with a number of his criticisms (his post is well worth equal consideration and offers a number of healthy warnings), but ultimately I land on the side Smith takes.

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Dress Down Friday – Rushmore’s Tenth Anniversary

Here’s a list of interesting things to entertain you for a few moments.

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Blog Entries Church in Mission Quaker

Cattell – On the Desire to Remain Uncontaminated

I came across this quote from Missionary and Quaker Everett Cattell today, here he questions the faithfulness of those communities that withdraw from “the world.” It is a strong statement, but one that resonates with my own position on the question of the church’s presence in the world and politics (especially the last part about the topee).

From the incarnation we also learn that the Word having become flesh “dwelt among us.” This settles the question of withdrawal from the world. Periodically in the history of the church, the pendulum has swung toward the monastic ideal, whether celibates in an institutionalized holiness, or Quakers building new colonies peopled only by their own kind, or evangelicals staying out of politics, and avoiding public life, all for the purpose of keeping uncontaminated by the world.

Jesus ate with sinners, dealt with sinful women without scandal, made no effort in the daytime to escape the crowds, even touched lepers, and went everywhere doing good. The religion of withdrawal is not for for Christ’s ambassadors. Withdrawn Christians have lost their sense of mission – indeed, one wonders whether they are still Christian! Jesus lived dangerously. So must we. Our contact with people must be such as to naturalize us in their presence. God spoke once through angels and the shepherds were frightened almost to death. But Jesus was born. He spoke their language. Those of use who have labored overseas and spent years trying to merge our foreignness, lose our accent, and identify ourselves within a new culture, know how desperately difficult this is, and therefore, thank God for Jesus Christ, who never had to have his water boiled, nor wear a monstrous topee to spare his head from the sun, or live in a big bungalow with thick walls to break the heat. He completely belonged. And to all his followers comes the same challenge of identification.” (The Christian Mission, 1963: 20-21; The Shrewsbury Lecture)

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Blog Entries The Cultural

Barth: The Original (Theology) Hipster?

Ben Myers posted a quote from Karl Barth on Fashion the other day, where Barth considers fashion one of the lordless powers of our times:

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Blog Entries Church in Mission Featured Quaker The Theological

Everett Cattell’s Principle of Authority (pt. 3)

Series contents | Intro | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Mustard Seeds and the Kingdom

Cattell’s understanding of authority is derived from Christ, who is the head of the church. He argues that there is a tendency in the church to choose some one authority over another. Christ as head relativizes arguments over authority of Scripture, tradition, Spirit, etc. Rather we “must see the organic whole and each part functioning within the total organism, and each organ receiving its relative authority from that which is Christ” (Cattell, 8). This statement sounds close to post-foundationalism (a philosophical-theological movement newly espoused the later half of the twentieth-century).

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Blog Entries Church in Mission Quaker

A Quakerism Worth Believing In

The convictions of the First Friends were what ordered their theo-political imagination (as Cavanugh calls it). This ‘imagination’ guided their practice, their missionary-inspired anti-Constantinian message that Christ had retunred and is the head of the church. The head of the church is not the state, it’s not learned clergy, but  Christ alone. The Quaker narrative is not complete without this realization. Their convictions drew on something else, looked back to something other which sought to reinstate the reality of God’s Kingdom here and now. When we seek to simply reinstate, or draw on the origins of Quakerism, or our other traditions, we forego, even silence, the actual well-spring, the experience that these First generation Friends drew on. If we miss this, we run the risk of silencing the essential feature of their message; early Quakerism saw itself as restoring early Christianity. As a result, if this is ignored we’ll continue to struggle to find a Quakerism with the force and motivation of early Friends; we’ll flounder as we try to have a Quakerism worth believing in.

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Dress Down Friday | Tickles, Non-AntiChrists and a British Gorilla

Here’s this week’s Dress Down Friday, sure to keep you from doing something more productive.

And finally, a new ditty by our favorite musical genius:

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Blog Entries Church in Mission

Wilbert Shenk on Ecclesiology and Mission

In discussing how particular, newly planted and non-Western, churches could potentially develop “in loco an ecclesiology at once biblically and theologically responsive,” mission historian and theologian, Wilbert Shenk argues that ecclesiology has in the past often been ignored or fallen secondary to the primacy of evangelism and conversion of individuals. This is largely due to the overwhelming influence of revivalist theology stemming from the “Great Century.” However, this need not be the case. Instead, soteriology ought not to be developed apart from ecclesiology and thus what is needed is a full-fledged understanding of the local church as well as the church universal. His key point is well worth meditating on:

The church is more than a collection of saved individuals. The body of Christ is a corporate expression of the living Christ. It comes to concretion in particular cultures and among particular peoples. It is a worshiping, serving fellowship which witnesses to the world of God’s righteousness now become manifest in its midst. But no local fellowship, no association of churches, no national church is complete in itself. The church  universal embraces each local fellowship, bringing it to the completeness of which it is incapable so long as it remains alone. The church universal is both empirical reality and eschatological hope. It ever stands in a tension with the sociopolitical order. One strand of the missionary dynamic is that the body of Christ is not yet complete. Christ as head of the church impels his body to continue working to complete the body. This clearly calls for the witness to be carried to the four corners of the world.

Such an ecclesiology has immediate implications for the church as a disciplined community living under the lordship of Christ, a community of ethical discernment. The church as a missionary community is always aware of its pilgrim character, and its first loyalty is to Christ and his body in both its universal and local manifestation, rather than to the kingdoms of this world. Anything which might compromise its missionary task must be rejected. It witnesses to a kingdom which is of a different order from that of this world.

(Wilbert Shenk, Anabaptism and Mission, p.176-177)

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A Quick Parental Solicitation

If you’re a parent and you have a moment and would like to join the discussion Emily and I are looking for some advice.

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Church in Mission Featured Quaker The Biblical

Everett Cattel on the Great Commission (pt. 2)

Series contents | Intro | Part Two |

Cattell believes that mission must start from the Great Commission, not only a central theme in the New Testament, but a central theme throughout all of Scripture. He remarks that if the Gospels authors would not have penned the Great Commission, it would not matter because we would still have the implicit command to go (Cattell, 1981:1).  For Cattell, the Gospels offer a full picture of the the commission as it progressed through the various evangelist’s accounts. Mark’s version is a bit simplistic (Mark 16:15) in that it does not discuss disciple-making, which makes Matthew 18-20 a far more complete reading of the commission’s prescription by showing the need for an actual harvest in our missionary act (Cattell, 2). John’s gospel (20:21-22), being the latest and most developed, is what Cattell finally lands on as the central key to mission because of its focus on Jesus. Cattell suggests that Jesus becomes the primary example for the church’s mission, he says: