So this is the first blog entry titled, “Bookshelf”. I will use it as an opportunity to share books, articles or interesting blogs that I am reading or have found particularly influential in my journey. Hopefully you find it interesting and I’m always happy to engage in further conversation.
The first book that I would like to mention is in fact Prodigal Christianity by Fitch and Holsclaw. I came across just about one year ago when I was reflecting on the Evangelical Church. I can’t remember what I put into google, but Fitch’s book The End of Evangelicalism? came up (I’ll post on this book at some point in the future I am sure). One of his other book’s Prodigal Christianity was available in the Saskatoon library system so I ordered it and read it and jumped on the Fitch bandwagon. Clearly, that is not how one would want to describe being persuaded by good arguments that Fitch and Holsclaw had something worthwhile to say about the direction of the church; however, that might best describe my reaction.
In Prodigal Christianity, Fitch and Holsclaw position their view of how to move forward as the church between the polarizing debates of the last ten years or so. The Neo-reformers (e.g. John Piper, Mark Driscoll) and the Emergents (e.g. Brian Mclaren, Rob Bell) envision significantly oppositional ways of being in the world as the church, which has created considerable tension. (A side note: some expressions of evangelical Christianity, in my opinion, have avoided this debate and now must play catch up in identifying the shift in culture over the last generation, perhaps not yet even realizing that one has taken place). Fitch and Holsclaw offer, as is the subtitle of their book, “10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier” (Post-Christendom; Missio Dei; Incarnation; Witness; Scripture; Gospel; Church; Prodigal Relationships; Prodigal Justice; Prodigal Openness).
All sections are worthwhile and offer an important evaluation of the last ten and equally good 'signposts' as a way forward. For me, the first four chapters are the most important with the first chapter being crucial. The first signpost outlines how the culture of North America has shifted into a post-Christian one. They describe this under three headings: post-attractional (people are not generally attracted to church and in many cases repelled), post-positional (the church no longer carries the influence it once held), and post-universal (no longer is the language and the worldview of the church shared or understood). How the church responds to these shifts is of extreme importance. In general Fitch and Holsclaw argue for a way of being in the world without compartmentalization and an honesty that reflects the Gospel (Jesus is Lord). How they work Gospel living out in their signposts contributes lots of room for discussion and visioning for who we can be as individuals in the places we find ourselves and together as the church.
I close with a quote from the Introduction:
“The point of the book is to fund imagination for Christians to patiently inhabit our contexts, discern God’s work, and practice the kingdom in our neighborhoods. The book challenges us to inhabit the world differently than we do now, build relationships differently, and allow God, through Jesus Christ by the Spirit, to bring the kingdom in over the long term until Christ comes again (1 Corinthians 15:25). As a result, I suspect that if the message of this book sticks, we shall put a different emphasis on discipleship in our churches. We will focus on leading Christians into living under God’s reign in our everyday lives together for God’s mission in the world.” (xvi)
Here are two links related to David Fitch:
http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/ (his blog)
http://bethany.sk.ca/?page_id=6470 (lectures he did at Bethany College, Hepburn, SK in Nov 2013. Rob did a seminar at this and many of the staff members at EBC attended.)
and one from Geoff Holsclaw:
http://geoffreyholsclaw.net/blog-page/ (his blog)