Saturday, August 01, 2009

Of course it opens a door to it anyway!

If penguins are "open source," when will we sheep catch up?

Every so often, one hears the concern that churches with more open-source, participatory sermons
open themselves up to heresy.

Of course they do.

But they also open themselves up to what God is saying through the ministers.

I love University Chrsitian Fellowship; especially their classic tongue(s)-in cheek "order of worship (see "Virgin Sacrifices...That's "postmodern" worship!"):

We like to share the wealth. Seeing as most of our ministers with bible school training got it via mail order, we don't feel that hearing from God is something only one of them can do. Everyone in our church could potentially be sitting on a great sermon, so we like to let everyone get a chance to speak. So we have a five minute slot. Occasionally we get some weird discourse on helicopters and UFO's, but 99.9% of the time or more it is a good message.

Doug Pagitt, in "Preaching Reimagined," comments on this at least three times:
  • There are those who assume that if more people are allowed to share...then there's a greater risk of the church losing truth. But the history of heresy shows it's most often the abuse of power--not an openness of power--that creates envirins ripe with heresy. The church is at greater risk of losing its message when we limit those who can tell thes story versus when we invite the community to know and refine it. (43)
  • When I've talked with other pastors about progressional preaching, their concerns are almost always about heresy..They're concerned all hell--literally--will beak loose. I understand this concern. As pastors we spend years in theological training...(so) we won't toss out crazy ideas about God to the masses...But I've found this concern to be unfounded. Far from pulling us in the direction of heresy, including collective conversation in our sermon time has in many, many instances led to greater understanding....and actually prevents the heretical thinking so easily found in individuated expressions of faith. When people set their ideas on the table, thoss who might lean towards heresy or idiocy are quickly called out by the group (53-54)
  • We may not agree with the conclusions people draw, but we're better when we're moved to additional ways of seeing the world (137)
And Tony Jones, who attends the church pastored by Paggit, comments that 99 percent of churches don't let just anyone talk...

“..but because anyone, including Trucker Frank, can speak freely in this emergent church, my seminary-trained eyes were opened to find a truth in the Bible that had previously eluded me.” -Tony Jones, The New Christians, p.92
That truth emerged in a discussion of Matthew 18's "treat the unrepentant brother like a tax collector or sinner.":
"And how did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans?" Frank asked aloud, pausing, "as of for a punchline he'd been waiting all his life to deliver,"....., "He welcomed them!""

More on Trucker Frank here; he can interrupt my sermons anytime..


  1. wow, i enjoyed that. i've started following your blog after i saw something on Mike Todd's blog. at any rate, thanks.

  2. Thanks, Ian...I am enjoying your blog, too...keep up the good work.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!