Thursday, June 01, 2006

Emerging Church & Incarnation

On the weekend, someone at college said this: "at the heart of the emerging church is the practice of incarnation. God is a part of what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell every day. God is relevant! Relevancy is not an assumption but rather an expectation in alternative worship and the emerging church."

That really made me think and wonder - how do we as followers of Christ practise incarnation? If we did have the mentality that God is in the every day, would we live differently? Are we relevant? Do we in our churches expect relevancy in our worship and being church?

18 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think incarnational theology detracts fromt eh real meaning of Incarnation. The Incarnation involved Christ and only Christ.

He is still incarnate, but He is no longer in the world but in heaven. Therefore, it makes little sense to build a practical theology on the Incarnation.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew,I am grappling with what you said here. One question I have for you though: even though Christ is in heaven, the Spirit of Christ dwells in us. Doesn't it mean that the Christ who is in us (Galatians 2:20)can practise incarnational ministry through His people and His church?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good question.

The unity of the body was testimony to the world of God's purposes (though the Church is ruined and has falied to be such a testimony).

I do not think there is an incarnational ministry to the world. It is rather that the believer is united to Christ in heaven and is therefore separated from the world. The body of Christ relates to heaven, though it is on the earth.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, I reckon you have some really interesting opinions that 'stretch' me hehe :)

I agree that the unity of the body is supposed to be the testimony to the world, yet I think having an incarnational ministry can occur concurrently with that. After all, we are called to imitate Christ.

Is the believer only united to Christ in heaven, and can't be on earth? I don't know if we are separated from the world as we are in the world (though not of the world). And what do you mean by the body of Christ relates to heaven, though it is on the earth??

God Bless!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Kitty, Christ is in heaven. We are united to Him through faith and through the operation of the Spirit.

Our hope is in Him. Our occupation must be with Him.

In being so united to Him, we are brought out of the power of the world and are set in opposition to it. All that we have is in heaven and all that we desire should be in heaven. Hence, we are nothing to do with the world. We are spiritually in heaven already (Ephesians 2:6).

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, I agree with you in most of what you said here. But I have reservation regarding your claim that 'we are nothing to do with the world' cos Christ our Lord has clearly commanded us to be the salt of the earth, and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). How can we be the salt and the light if we have nothing to do with the world, and in opposition to it?

Blessings to you brother.

Kc said...

One of the greatest problems I have with Emergent is centered on this blurring of the lines between light and dark and life and death. Our life in Christ is spiritual. The flesh, along with the world, remains under the curse of sin and will be destroyed. There is no life in the world or through it. (I don’t mean for this to sound so harsh but it does, doesn’t it?) ;-)

dorsey said...

The problem with using words like Incarnation is that such words have been, well, hijacked and predefined by religious academic tradition. The idea of the Incarnation as referring to Christ-alone originated with Catholicism and, in that context, is used to describe the specific event of Christ's birth.

However, when you hear someone refer to incarnational ecclesiology (also called relational ecclesiology), it's with the understanding that Christ lives in and through us.
As we engage culture (and each other), we bring Christ with us. This has enormous implications for our worldview. Yes, we are released from the power of this world, but even a cursory examination of the life of Christ defeats the notion that He had nothing to do with the world. I believe He calls us to behave likewise.

I love your reference to salt. Salt is only useful when it is mixed into the food (or scattered onto the ice it's intended to melt). But in either case, the salt does not remain distinct from the object of its affectation. No, the salt disappears into the food. Salt enhances the food's own flavors. I make candy at the holidays. Surprisingly, even my favorite, peanut brittle, calls for a couple teaspoons of salt, to bring out the flavors of the nuts and the sugars. It's an awesome analogy that Jesus used. But salt is useless if left in the shaker.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

We have nothing to do with the world's hopes, values and shemes. We are not part of the world and our mission is not to make the world a better place.

The reference to Salt and Light have reference primarily to Israel, who will be central to God's programme of restoring creation in the Millennium and beyond. There hope is certainly earthly in character.

However, this teaching has some indirect application to the Church in that we have the light of the Gospel and that we are a testimony to God's purposes (albeit a failed testimony). We are also a preservative in the sense that God is delaying judgment on the earth for the preaching of the Gospel.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Kitty Cheng said...

Kc, I understand your opinion on the problems with Emergent, but I am hopeful that it can be used by God for His Kingdom.

Kitty Cheng said...

I agree with you there Dorsey.

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, I wonder what your mission is if you don't think our mission is to make the world a better place. Jesus has called us to His Great Commission, and His Great Commandment - and the results of these ought to make the world a better place.

I don't think the reference to Salt and Light is only restricted to Israel only.

You seem to be quite negative in always thinking that we have a failed testimony. I believe if we keep trusting in Him to work in and through our lives, our testimony will have a positive effect in the world.

Hope this makes sense I typed this in a hurry, and need to go now.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I do not view the Great Commission as being the Church's mission.

The Great Commission was for the apostles. We find in Acts that they did not actually carry it out. They ignored the Lord's instructions about going from one city to another and remained in Jerusalem. Hence, the Lord called Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles.

The Lord is presently calling a people to turn from the world and to Himself.

The real fulflliment of the Great Comminssion will be after the Lord returns, when Israel will be restored.

I would not deny that Salt and Light have relevance to the Church, but this primarily teaching for Israel.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

dorsey said...

Matthew, your views are completely unfamiliar to me. What do you consider that believers should be about in terms of mission or purpose?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Dorsey

2 Things:

Seeking people who are lost with the Gospel of Grace.

Calling sinners to repentance (turning from sin).

The Lord is gathering a people from out of the Gentiles. Our part in that is to present the Gospel and show the need for repetance (those two things are not the same).

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

dorsey said...

(Thanks for your answer, Matthew. I appreciate your willingness to discuss this.)

How does that differ from the Great Commission? How does one seek the lost or call sinners to repentance without going into the world?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well, we are already in the world. Certainly, some of us may be called to travel further than others.

In practice, there is little difference between the the need to evangelize and the actual Great Commission. It is more of a difference in emphasis.

God Bless

Matthew

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, if there is little difference between the need to evangelize and the actual Great Commission, the Great Commission then ought to be the Church's mission I reckon, although I don't believe the Great Commission is only to evangelize, it also means discipleship.