Friends 2007: Quick Musings

Dr. Alex Tang who is one of our conversation partners beat me in terms of the speed of blogging the event. I’ll just quote him and throw a few pictures.

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From QROH: Session 1: Gospel

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“The long awaited conference, Friends in Conversation: A Quiet Revolution in Hope started today at Christian Life Gospel Centre, Petaling Jaya. The first session is on the Gospel (9.15am-12 noon).

Brian McLaren started the plenary session by sharing his thoughts about the different versions of the gospel. One version is “You can get saved and go to heaven and to hell with the rest.” Another version is about the Kingdom of God coming to earth. He used his circle illustrations. One is of three separate circles; one for self, one for the world and one for church. That he says is one of the ways some people perceive doing church. The next illustration shows one large circle: the world, and two small circles inside the large circle: self and church. Brian has used these illustrations in the chapter on “Why I am Missional” in Generous Orthodoxy.

Brian then went on to explain the kingdom of God, based mainly on the gospel. In this talk, he drew on what he has written in his book, The Secret Message of Jesus. He concludes by illustrating that the way they proclaim Jesus as King is in the same format that the Romans proclaim Augustus Caesar as god.

After his presentation, the conversation partners, Sherman Kuek, Dr. Ng Kam Weng, and Elder Tan Kong Beng were invited to give their responses and views. Alwyn is a good faciliatator who kept the conversation going. Actually with Kam Weng and Kong Beng ( who is in his lecturer mode), he did not have any problem getting the conversation going! The emphasis is on the definition of the gospel and the kingdom of God. Kong Beng made a good point about compassion in sharing the gospel. Sherman raised a few eyebrows with his Eastern Orthodox view about theosis and continuing salvation.

The questions from the floor are good questions too. One person raised the statement that if the church is growing at 30% annually, why should they bother about anything else? This led to some responses about spiritual growth, gospel and more about kingdom of God.

This promises to be a good start for the conference. This posting is mainly about my immediate impressions. I shall post my reflections on this conference later. BTW they are videotaping the sessions who emergent Malaysia shall be selling for RM 20.00. Check their website for more information.”

Another one from QROH: Session 2: Church

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“Session two starts at 2pm in the afternoon after lunch. Again Brian gives the plenary talk followed by the conversation partners and conversation participants. People are beginning understand that the whole conference is a great big conversation.

Brian talks about the emerging church. He starts by using Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger’s 9 points descriptors of emergent churches:
(1) Identifying with Jesus
(2) Transforming secular space
(3) Living as community
(4) Welcoming the stranger
(5) Serving with generosity
(6) Particpating as producers
(7) Creating as created beings
(8) Leading as a body
(9) Merging ancient and contemporary spiritualities.

He said that the main descriptor is number one and all the rest is built on it. He then goes onto to illustrate the emerging churches by three diagrams. The first is a box with four quardants and a red circle in the centre. The centre represent the emerging church and the four quardant represent evangelical, charismatic, social concern and liturgical. Brian said that people who are unhappy with thier tradition tend to try traditions in the other quadrant and end in the red circle in the middle.

The second illustration is of a tree trunk with concentric rings. The traditional churches are further in the trunk while the emerging churches represent the outermost ring.

The third illustration is of two circles. One represent the older paradigm while the other circle represents the church of tomorrow. He then put a link between the two and call it a transitional link. He also label it the emerging church. I am very mch taken by this third illustration that the emerging church is the transition to the church of tomorrow.

Then he went on to talk about deep ecclesiology.

The conversation partners for this session are Elder Chris Leong, Bishop Philip Lok and Rev. Wong Fong Yang. The partners did not engage directly on Brian’s talk about the emerging church. Instead they shared on their own theology, perception and the way they do church. Bishop Lok shared about the Lutheran tradition. Pastor Wong shared about his past church experience and what type of church he wanted when he started his present church. Chris Leong shared on the novel way they are doing church. They also shared about evangelism in Malaysia.

There are a couple of questions from the conversation participants. One asked about syncretism. Brian shared a story about a Christian practicing Tai Chi but using the movements to represent Christian values.

After the second session, there was time for small group discussion.”

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