More from Emergent Theological Conversation 2006

volf-ing emergent, emerging volf (part three)
Loads of gems here … I’m looking forward for the podcasts! Check out the following notes:
“… surely one of the most controversial and dramatic moments was on the second day when mirosalv went off a bit, sounding like john in revelation, critiquing christians for being lukewarm and indifferent to the treasure of faith and relationship with god. he thinks too many christians are lousy embracers, and he finds the indifference of believers towards god more troubling than atheists who are angry with god and thus deny god but in the process are passionately engaged with god. he said one can learn this from neitzche here, but also average people who have dismissed the church and reject god via complaint and lament.

… in a powerful response, miroslav said simply that is heresy. there is no ‘third party’ who is punished on our behalf. the guilt is not ‘transferable’. it is god in jesus who takes the evil and sin of the world and by taking it in, then can transform it once for all, and marking the deepest reality of the future glimpsed now–no place for retribution, for suffering, for tears and pain and death. and by our participation in the sufferings of god in christ we also die to such sin and are reborn a new creation, ready to move towards gods future of reconciliation. and he finished his response by saying that the church has never settled on a view of how christ saves (the meaning of the term atonement). while there is not debate about the trinity or the two natures of christ, we have provisional and multiple views of christ’s saving work. that does not mean any view is possible–he quite clearly ruled one version out–but it does mean there is not ONLY one view possible of christ’s saving work.

… towards the end in a passionate plea miroslav distinguished between the church and the gospel in what amounts to a riff on paul in 2 corinthians 4:7. he said more or less that he is saved by grace, by the power of the gospel, and not by the church, even if it was through the broken vessel of the church that the gospel came to him. the church, therefore, is never ultimate. it deserves our energy and commitment not for its own sake, for the priority is on god; rather, there is a priority of the gospel over the church. this is not meant as an encouragement of individualistic spirituality shorn from the discipline of community nor is it meant to offer license to trash-talk the church. it is simply and clearly a marker of priority, of which comes first.”

miroslav volf, part 1
miroslav volf, part 2
Another set of helpful notes. Some sentences that stood out for me.
“… Volf argued, especially in light of our current world circumstance, we need to make space for the “muslim other”.
He cautioned that this “making space” should not be some sentimental, “we’re the same” dreck that seems to permeate so much of the “official dialogue” in religious circles. We need to embrace, but not fake it when it comes to real disagreement.
He spoke of how through the eyes of a Muslim, he can re-discover and enrich his own understanding of God’s holiness, how God is categorically other/different and awe-inspiring. To hear from a Muslim as Volf reads the Bible, he claimed an enlightening of his own convictions and faith. (note: not a changing or a modifying, but an enlightening of HIS OWN CONVICTIONS). He mentioned a need for a hermeneutic of charity that authentically deals with our own texts and gently articulates differences.

… Miroslav spoke of the human limitations on their capacity to grasp truth–we are finite, God, who is Truth, is infinite.
But he spoke of how Truth is not diminished in the mind of God. So much of the concern over Truth relates to the question of “How do we navigate ethical requirements if our ability to fully access all Truth is limited?”
For Volf we start with humility and an acceptance of moral requirements as a reality (because God is reality–my own addition).
He went on to say that we do not “possess truth” as if it is some kind of commodity that can be owned and therefore controlled. We must see ourselves as seekers. We are all seekers. So we must be open, humble, with the honesty of “I could be wrong”.
He was asked then, “Where is our confidence in our faith?”
Unapologetically he said: IN GOD and the knowledge of our limits.
He then described 2 modes in which we live:
Reflective–“I cannot fully know within the confines of my human limitations”
Active–The risk of faith, the “wager” enacted.

… People want certainty, not nuance and openness.
(but we need to retain our humility)
Volf was asked how do we balance epistemic humility with confidence in God?
We celebrate the story, not the commentators. We radically trust in the revelation of God in Jesus. We must remember that the primary purpose of preaching is proclamation of the work of God, as opposed to highly technical teaching that can find a home in the Sunday School class.”

Lots to chew on .. much that’s worth chewing on.

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