Saturday, February 18

Scripture's "Different Theologies"

Stuart made this comment which I thought was worth starting a new thread for:

"I wonder why we often try to match up scripture passages with one another. What I mean is, what about the notion that all of the different writers of scripture had their own theologies, just like we do?! So the Spirit inspired all sorts of different folk to write in the way they did because of the way they understand life in the Spirit. If this is true, then we have a web of theologies in scripture. This is cool because diversity is a huge strength for the church."

see Stuart's original post

Monday, February 6

Coffee Shop Theology

"Theology is a community affair"
(Jurgen Moltmann)

Visit the CST mini site for information on our next discussion

We believe theology is truly thrilling. We also affirm that theology is not just the task of the academic and pastor - it belongs to us all. And theology does not just happen in Bible College, university and church hall - it happens wherever people engage with God.

In the spirit of the incarnation, and following the lead of Mosaic's Public Theology thing, the web's Open Source Theology, and the apostle Paul's trip to the Areopagus, a few of us are trying to take theological discussion into the public domain; into the place where dialogue happens - in our case the coffee shops of Edinburgh.

We seek to wrestle with our thinking about God through informal conversation which encourages open questioning and, where opinions differ, sincere respect. We seek to create an open community where we can share our passions, concerns and thoughts about the church. We seek to create space for 'the other': a cross-confessional environment where we can challenge each other, open each other's eyes to new perspectives and explore new ways that we can engage with both our shared Christian tradition and our contemporary culture. So if you are waiting for your hazelnut latte and hear a bunch of people in the corner getting excited about God, that'll be us. Get your coffee to sit in, and pull up a chair.

If you are interested in being part of a lively, informal and welcoming discussion on matters relating to (mainly but not exclusively) Christian theology then reply to this thread or email me and we'd love to have you with us. Of course, you could just show up!

Friday, February 3


Ok, ok, so I'm showing some first day excitement. But this isn't technicially a new thread - the conversation started after our CSW meeting with a couple of guys in the car a couple of weeks ago. These were a few of the questions that came out that night (which are deliberately provocative):

1) What is 'original sin'? Is it an individual (quasi-genetic) inheritance or a community (all humanity) concept? Where do Romans 5 (esp v 18) and 1 Cor 15 (esp v. 22) fit in?

2) Is God concerned with "getting people into heaven" or something more like relationship with him/others here and now?

3) If it's the latter, are we all somehow in a relationship with him? Is anyone, therefore, 'lost' at all? Or are some merely 'further away'?

A nice light one to get us started! Thoughts anyone?

Thursday, February 2

Blessed are the Geeks!

I think those Computer Nerd-types might be (unwittingly) onto something here. Sorry if you're one of them. Actually, I must confess to being one of you - I first read about this kind of thing a few years back during my Linguistics postgrad. Anyhow, while I was getting this blog ready for its first post I came across the following two commments on some Computer Science websites. (type "emergent" in Google and you get the emergent church websites first. Hit the "UK Only" button and you get computer science pages. Shame.)

From UMIST, Manchester: "The centralised control of complex processes has long been known to be self-restricting. Communication bandwidth expand at ever increasing rates and induced minor non-linearities create catastrophic effects - there is an inherent fragility in any central-executive-driven system. Distributed computing was, and remains, an attempt to overcome these problems. Though much progress has been made, such systems can still exhibit serious limitations (e.g., high communication bandwidths) and undesired emergent behaviour."

"What can emergent systems do that other systems can’t? They are robust and resilient. There is no single-point of failure, so if a single unit fails, becomes lost or is stolen, the system still works. They are well-suited to the messy real world. Human-engineered systems may be “optimal” but often require a lot of effort to design and are fragile in the face of changing conditions. Importantly, they don’t need to have complete knowledge/understanding to achieve a goal (e.g. social systems in warehousing). They find a reasonable solution quickly and then optimise. In the real world, time matters - decisions need to be taken while they are still relevant. Traditional computer algorithms tend to not produce a useful result until they are complete (which may be too late, e.g. if you're trying to avoid an oncoming obstacle)."

Is there something in this dark corner of geekdom that the church needs to hear? Comments?

Welcome to the Santa Fe Trail

Firstly, welcome to the Santa Fe Trail, my little slice of the blogosphere.

Secondly, let's clear up the whole 'Santa Fe' thing.

Santa Fe is a city in New Mexico, USA, which I've never visited. So why name my blog after it? Well, there are three reasons:

Santa Fe is a key city in the history of the US, being the first place to be settled by the, er, settlers... ahem. It's my belief that the church today faces its own Rio Grande as it crosses over from the modern to the postmodern period. Just like the Spanish settlers, some serious rethinking will be required in our New World (but unlike them, we're motivated not by colonial, but by post-colonial desires). Travel websites tell me that today's Santa Fe is a vibrant artistic haven (something I long to see in the church) and also very confusing to navigate through (just like, I believe, the church's future).

Santa Fe is also the home of the Santa Fe Institute, a research lab looking into complex and emergent systems. I came across their work while doing my (abandoned) Linguistics PhD and was struck by some of their insights. While I do not agree with many of their scientific tenets, their approach to science has much to teach us about our approach to faith communities. Read here for the SFI research aims. They describe themselves as a scientific community "emphasizing multidisciplinary collaboration in pursuit of understanding", and an "institute without walls". For those familiar with recent church developments in the UK, that last phrase may ring a bell. Not sure who nicked it from whom.

Finally, Santa Fe is Spanish for "Holy Faith". Which is not only cool given the above comments, but it also reminds me of the Nicene Creed. While some of the vocabulary used in the creed is probably in need of revision for today's context, I still think it's the best this blog can do by way of doctrinal statement... (and if you disagree, go ahead and post!)

"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

But having said all this I don't think we ever really arrive at finalising our "holy faith": we're always on the trail, pilgrim-pioneers, never quite reaching Santa Fe - and that excites me. So hopefully, while we're on the way, we can get some good conversation going.