Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Emergent Theology & The Open Hand Tribe

Peter Rollins is doing the serious work of theology while rooted in a faith community (rather than an academic institution) in Northern Ireland. He is expressing one of the most hopeful expressions to date of Christian theology within a postmodern context.

Peter has a B.A. in Scholastic philosophy, and M.A. in political theory and criticism and a Ph.D. in postmodern theory. He is the founder of the Ikon community in Belfast and a working philosopher who believes that the emerging church presents a singular, unprecedented opportunity to transform the theological architecture of the Christian community.

Here are some thoughts from his book How (Not) To Speak of God which put words to concepts that we have been wrestling with for the past twelve years in our Open Hand community.

The Ikon community and Open Hand international community:

  • represent neither a conservative nor a liberal perspective
  • think of a doughnut which has no interior, but is made up entirely of an exterior
  • so Ikon / Open Hand have no substantial doctrinal centre
  • we do not tithe to the "organization", no do we look to it for pastoral support
  • rather we encourage relational tithing and relational pastoring whereby we give to one another materially and emotionally
  • even those who organize and help run community events see the role of leadership as helping support, serve and develop the relationships that organically arise from our groups
  • while our communities, as an abstract idea, are neither lliberal nor conservative, these perspectives are each represented in the actual beliefs of the various people who attend
  • one way we find unity amidst diversity is via our rejection of the temptations of consumption and repulsion
  • consumption connotes the act of eating and relates to a way of engaging with someone that seeks to make them into part of our own community (attempting to compel the other to think and act as we do)
  • repulsion represents the other side of the coin, by which we utterly reject that which is different and treat it like an enemy - scapegoating those who are different and excluding them from our community
  • we instead engage in complementary approaches that create a space in which genuine discussion and heartfelt disagreement can take place and we are committed to creating a space in which we are able to challenge the way in which we hold the views which we hold
I finish by quoting from Peter, " By creating a space for in-depth discussion alongside a space in which we can set aside these discussions in order to affirm one another, Ikon seeks to short-circuit the revulsion/consumption binary in favor of loving dialogue." Amen

Check out the Ikon website! Just type Ikon commuinty....

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