12 June 2008

an outpouring of the spirit

This past Sunday night and Monday morning, our church hosted Ian Mobsby, one of the leading voices of the emergent church in the Anglican Communion. He spoke about some themes he covers in his new book, The Becoming of G-d. He's especially interested in reaffirming a trinitarian emphasis, which too often has been allowed to languish. Mainline churches have tended to focus on Jesus the Christ. Many Pentecostal churches have focused on the Holy Spirit. All of this results in imbalance.

He also mentioned some traits that emergent churches all over the globe have in common. Among them are an emphasis on orthopraxis, rather than orthodoxy (right "practice," as opposed to right "belief"), a search for genuine community, an awareness that we exist in a postmodern environment (with the difficulty that the word "postmodern" presents), and several other traits, including the use of cyberspace.

During the Sunday night Q & A session, I suggested that one explanation for all these faith communities around the planet exhibiting similar characteristics is due to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I prefaced my comments by saying I had been in the Assemblies of God for several years. Ian responded by outlining how the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have played out in history (that is, the 20th and early 21st centuries). I agree with what he said.

I realize that I didn't make myself clear. In my opinion, what has characterized these movements, emphasis on gifts of the Spirit, especially things like speaking in tongues, prophesying, etc., do not truly mean that the Spirit has been poured out "on all flesh" (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). So far, I think we've only stuck our toe into the ocean of the Spirit. As we with greater longing yearn for the Spirit, it only makes sense that churches around the globe will find themselves sensing a greater oneness.

The image posted is something Ian displayed during his talk. It represents Jesus wearing a hoodie, with all the ancient-future implications that involves. It includes medieval friars, hip-hop, and skate punks.

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