Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Episode #5.1: More on New Calvinism and Emergent

It's just me and Nathan Gilmour in this week's short episode, responding to criticism about last week. Please pardon our technical difficulties.

General Introduction

- How this show will work.
- Nathan’s blog addressing Sam Mulberry’s email.

Emergent and Poststructuralist Philosophy

- Is poststructuralism “out” in the Academy?
- Michial gets cynical; Nathan gets sanguine.
- Existentialism and poststructuralism.
- Effusive praise for James K.A. Smith.
- Radical Orthodoxy.
- Calvinism Outside of New Calvinism.
- Ecumenism.
- Michial refuses to call heresy.
- The difference between Christian existentialism and the Emergent Church.


- Can a postmodernist nail things down?
- Definition under attack.
- Enlightenment thought and systematizing.
- Does the Emergent Church subvert itself?

More on Celebrity Culture

- We badmouth the absent David Grubbs.
- A consequence of Calvinist intellectualism?
- “The dark, tangled, visceral aspect of Christianity.”
- Home video feeds.


- Tripp Fuller and Tony Jones.
- Why don’t the Neo-Calvinists respond?
- Were we kinder to Neo-Calvinists?


Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: An Introduction. Ed. Helmut Gollwitzer. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1994.

Barthes, Roland. Image-Music-Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1978.

Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death and Literature in Secret. Trans. David Wills. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007.

McLaren, Brian. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Milbank, John, et al. Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Pinnock, Clark. Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. “What Is Literature?” and Other Essays. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1988.

Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian Manifesto. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2005.

Smith, James K.A. Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Updike, John. Rabbit, Run. New York: Fawcett, 1996.

Nathan Gilmour's Written Response


shinigami-sidhe said...

Would you be willing to elaborate more on the importance you attach to the Nicene Creed?

Michial said...

We'll probably address this in further detail next week, but here's the short answer.

The Nicene and Apostles Creeds are, best I can tell, the creeds subscribed to by the largest number of groups through the greatest length of time. Thus, if there's something we can point to and say, "This is what all Christians everywhere have always believed," it's them.

I am aware they are imperfect, but we've got to set a line between what we believe Christians are and what we believe they are not, and they seem like the best place to draw that line.

Nathan P. Gilmour said...

And the reason I pressed Michial on that a couple episodes ago (other than just to be a jerk) is that those creeds were themselves responses to chronologically prior heresies. I thought perhaps we could get Socratic and discuss what heresy itself is, but Farmer wasn't biting. :)

Michial said...

As listeners will no doubt have noticed, when Nathan tries to press me on something by asking, "Do you want to talk more about that?" my answer is almost always "no."

IaKovos said...

Let me disgorge some of the stuff that they've been "learnin' " me here at the seminary:

The "Nicene Creed" and the "Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed" were largely the result of two major Church councils: 1 Nicea in 325 (to address the Arian heresy) and 1 Constantinople in 381 (addressing further Arian controversy and the the nature of the Holy Spirit). Since the Church was finally legal and imperially supported in the fourth century, Christians everywhere were really bored and decided to fight about a lot of funny stuff that we now take for granted, or (worse yet) totally ignore.

I'm with Nathan regarding jumbotrons, super-star preachers/pastors and church by way of Barnes and Noble. At the very least, they are an ominous sign of how far worship has declined in churches. I absolutely will not trust a pastor who feels the need to engage in such heavily ego-centric practices as satellite campuses using the jumbotron methodology. I can't remember who made the point in the other podcast addressing this issue (Nathan?), but I believe that when we look at some... no, many of the great teachers in Church history, we see men who shunned the spotlight and positions of power, sometimes having to be forced into it in order for them to do God's work.

In my house, we have a rule that the living room furniture is not to be gathered around the TV as if it is the center of our focus. The center of the focus is our conversation, and the TV is there to add flavor occasionally. To enter a church building and see a giant TV screen front and center, while the "audience" kicks back with latte's in theater seating simply gives me goose bumps.

Michial said...

Jamey, what do you think of David Grubbs' assertion (in Episode 5) that celebrity has always played a big role in Christianity--and in particular our connection of that celebrity culture to the desert fathers? There's a difference, of course, in that the desert fathers didn't seek out celebrity, but people's attitude toward St. Simeon the Stylite and Mark Driscoll seem fairly similar to me.

The giant TV screen in churches disturbs me, as well, but there's probably a proper use for it somewhere, at least in Protestant churches. (As a replacement for the hymnal, for example, it strikes me as aesthetically unpleasant but functionally worthwhile.) But I don't understand its use during sermons, to project pictures or, God forbid, an image of the pastor.

One thing I admire about the Orthodox Church is its steadfast refusal to make people comfortable in its services. (When I visited what became St. Timothy's, I remember being told that the Orthodox don't even refer to their worship as a "service" because that word suggests that people come to church to be served.) I understand that some Orthodox churches don't even provide seats (except for the elderly and physically infirm), and I dig that, at least to some extent. I certainly prefer it on a theological level to the stadium seating and cup holders you find the stereotypical MegaChurch. (I've never actually been to a MegaChurch that features stadium seating or cup holders.)