Monday, March 30, 2009

Professor D. Stephen Long and the Task of Orthodox Theology

AWAF featured speaker, Dr. D. Stephen Long asserts that theology must remain orthodox in order to maintain the priority of God’s gift in Jesus Christ as the only possible means of creation and redemption. The theological priority of God’s gift in Jesus Christ mediates the Christian’s participation in culture, ethics, economy, philosophy and church. Long identifies the trend of modernity as searching for and proclaiming what is “new.” This interminable “newness” that characterizes modernity has left its mark on theology as well as all things in our culture. Modern theology proclaims itself to be “progressive,” moving from the old to the new. The “new” never seems to deliver what it promises except the dissolution of the past, including the historical tradition of Christianity.

The task of postmodern theologians is to remember Christianity’s theological roots that nurture orthodox beliefs and practices, and therefore, genuine Christianity. For Long, the best answer to the questions of the relationship between theology and culture is to be found in an orthodox Christology. This allows for speaking of Jesus Christ in truth and grace and in our own language, culture and times. We need not forfeit one for the other.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

George Sumner Points to the Historical Self-Mooring of Christianity

Christianity must not define itself merely by articulating what it is not. The positive Scriptural center of the faith must be clearly stated and not as an ambiguous compromise between convictions. What is the center of Anglicanism? George Sumner writes, “To speak of Christian centralities is to affirm the creative, particular, and historically encompassing life of God as temporally drawn in the figure of Jesus, the Christ.” The divine center of the faith, Jesus Christ, is the eternal power of God’s own life that withstands temporal assaults, orders the world, and moves the church’s destiny, all the while maintaining its integrity in relation to every detail of creation.

The translation of Christianity’s center is grounded always in “consistent historical self-mooring” through hearing the entire Scripture again and again in the Tradition of the church. The tradition of the church responds to the stress and strain of living in the world by continually reapprehending God’s order for life. It is God’s life and not the changing world or culture that must remain the center of the church’s day-to-day functioning. This is how the church is not conformed to the world but is recreated in the image of God. The church then reflects the gospel of Jesus Christ to world rather than a mere self reflection.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Andrew Walker Points Christians to a Recovery of 'Deep Church'

Andrew Walker urges Christians to recover what C.S. Lewis has called “Deep Church.” He asserts that in this age of uncertainty the time is ripe for Deep Church. To speak of Deep Church is to appeal to the miraculous foundations of the Christian faith and to the common historical tradition of belief and practice that was normative for the early Christian experience.

Walker calls Deep Church a commitment to a robust, maximized form of muscular Christianity. The reservoir of Deep Church for Lewis and for Walker is the Apostolic Faith or what he calls “historic orthodoxy.”

In order to live in Deep Church, Walker encourages Christians to reconnect with each other and with the past. He calls believers to rediscover a proper relationship between Spirit-breathed liturgies and practical programs of theological renewal. For Walker, this requires both inspiration and effort guided by the spiritual need to equip and empower the saints. This is about giving the people of God the tools to appropriate the Faith for themselves and to live in the awareness of the presence of God while mediating that presence to the world.

Andrew Walker is a featured speaker at the upcoming Ancient Wisdom – Anglican Futures Conference.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview with AWAF Participant Simon Chan

Christianity Today's Christian Vision Project has recently published an online interview with Simon Chan. Dr. Chan will be among the theologians participating in our conference June 4-6, 2009. In this interview he discusses (among other things) the role of mission within the broader ministry of the Church:
If we see communion as central to the life of the church, we are going to have an important place for mission. And this is reflected in the ancient fourfold structure of worship: gathering, proclaiming the Word, celebrating the Eucharist, and going out into the world. The last, of course, is mission. But mission takes its place within a larger structure. It is this sense of communion that the evangelical world especially needs. Communion is not just introspection or fellowship among ourselves. It involves, ultimately, seeing God and seeing the heart of God as well, which is his love for the world.

This summer, Dr. Chan (together with Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Edith Humphrey) will be specifically addressing "Worshiping in the Great Tradition." He is the author of Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community (IVP 2006) and Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life (IVP 1998). He is Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore.