Applying intellectual honesty toward religion, politics, health, and the environment. This is a free and safe space to think, emote, critique and re-examine currently held perspectives. Please join in on the conversation :-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Out of Bounds Church and HungerTruth

“Out of Bounds Church?” by Steve Taylor was the first full-length book that I read on the topic of the Emerging Church. It was a unique book in that there were columns on the left and right sides with quotes from various Emergent voices; song’s to listen to, movies to watch, and web sites to visit. There were also a series of postcards that Steve wrote after visiting Emerging communities around the globe. My first reaction was that this is really random and scattered, almost confusing, but later I was able to appreciate the way everything was incorporated into one book.

Taylor mentions communities that meet weekly for vegetarian meals (55), and sees the historic church like a mother in which there are lessons to be learned, but there is more to learn in a life of exploration (56). He sees theology as something that needs innovation and looks down upon those that idolize the word, sometime called bibliolatry. He wants to see people worship and commune with the God of the text, not the text itself (62). Taylor sees God as a musician who is expressed through the seemingly endless number of animal, and insect songs. Taylor leaves room for people to experience their theological, spiritual pilgrimage at their own pace without being rushed (84). He also came to the realization that the Sunday morning worship experience was not the only way to true spirituality (94). Along with the vast majority of scholars today, he sees Jesus as Jewish, saying that “…his heart beat with Jewish blood, he loved God in a Jewish way, and his feet navigated their way through a Jewish culture” (97).

Taylor encourages his community to find life by sharing life (101), and talks about “redemptive parties” (118). These parties are for the purpose of friends meeting friends of their friends. In this way, lives are shared and mixed together and gives the opportunity of redemption to take place.

The HungerTruth community reflects many of the values that Taylor mentions. Health is a top priority for our community; in fact, we just recently watched a documentary called, “Eating,” which exposed the nutritional and ethical problems with meat-based diets. We also appreciate Scripture and text, but offer tentative conclusions most of the times wanting to leave open the possibility of error. We are probably overly cautious at times, but we realize that in order to accurately apply ancient texts in our own day, we have to first understand them as they were first intended. Since this is not a math equation, but requires a reconstruction of history, culture, society, linguistic analysis, we realize that the process is subject to interpretation, therefore, we are hesitant of being presumptuous. We are reserved in telling people, this is what the text means and this is how you should live. Instead we offer our perspective and allow others to examine our interpretation, therefore allowing persuasion be the means of life change instead of coercion.

We are really gentle with people and allow them to think, move and live in a way that is comfortable for them. If people want to come and learn, listen, share and participate, then they are welcome; but if they have no desire, we patiently wait for experiences to take place that may lead to a change of mind. We try to give respect and dignity to people and treat them as they should be treated, as God’s creation, made in God’s image. We too have realized that our interaction is not the limit of what it means to experience God in the world. What we do is only one aspect of what it means for us to be a people united and connected to God.


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