« obey your television | Main | 1001 »


Existential Punk

"i noticed in the build up to blah a sort of anti-intellectual stance emerging from conversations on blogs. i felt a bit sad about that. people like pete are a gift to the church. and he is totally immersed in living out what he is talking and writing about in ikon, a community who clearly want to wrestle with their faith and love ideas as part of that. half of his book describes practice anyway - very unusual for an academic/philosophical book. a split between praxis and thinking is a dualism that i think is profoundly unhelpful... i definitely want to and think the church needs to engage its intellect and its hands and feet as we seek to follow in the way of christ."

Hear, hear and AMEN, Jonny! THANK YOU! You have a beautiful, kind, yet powerful way with words and hitting the nail on the head. BRAVO!!!! Adele


Sounds like dirty tricksters. Nice concept. And totally agree - if anything, I'd say we need more 'intellectual' stuff, not less.


Sounds a great evening, wish we could have made it.

On the "intellectual" side of things... I completely agree everything you've said about engaging our minds, hands and feet. Perhaps as well I could our sense of humour. Deep thinking always seems more palatable when its done with a mischevous smile. From the little bit I know about Ikon that seems to be exactly what they do.

Billy Kennedy

Hey Jonny

Spending 3 months getting a bit more intellectual - on study leave. Love your site. Just started blogging myself. Taking a while to get going!


I have read some of your blogs in the past and found them to be great. I really enjoy your comments about alot of things. I find the post modern discussion interesting.

You have discussed an interesting concept in this blog. We do have paradox in our belief. I find the ideas that you present about sexuality a bit disconcerting, in terms of them being a faithful betrayal. I understand the parallel you are making between the gentiles who the jews did not feel were recieving the gospel and homosexuals who evangelicals do not feel are recieving the gospel. It seems clear in scripture that homosexuality is a sin. To deviate from this seems like a synthesis of good and evil. In other words, to say that it is other than what the bible says it is is very disconcerting, especially just because you went to a service and had an experience. I am not doubting that God was present he is in my opinon present everywhere. He wants to encounter us all. Even if we have bad theology, which enevitably we all do, as imperfect humans. This is true. However in the example of peter, the issue at hand was not a moral one. Also he was of course one of them men who walked with jesus and wrote part of the new testament. The problem comes when we try to do this now-a-days we end up with cults. This of course sounds very hardline. I am wanting to open up discussion about this. It is defintetly an important issue in regards to sexuality but definetly goes further than the one issue, into how we live in the world and interpret scripture/have a real relationship with God. One that goes beyond bible study. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Existential Punk

Matt, where does it say homosexulaity is a sin? Leviticus? Well, then we better ALL adhere to every bit of the Levitical Law. Paul in Romans about having unnatural relations? What if for a gay or lesbian ,laying with a heterosexual is unnatural? I think the context may have been about temple prostitutes as well. Jesus NEVER spoke about homosexuality. See, this is an issue for me that i cannot be so definitive about. I have several gay friends who are christians, love God and i am fine with them being gay. EP


matt the point here isn't about what i believe now or believed then - that is a different discussion. i haven't really said that. the point is where is god? and what is god doing? this is the starting point for mission and for seeking god's kingdom as far as i can see. with everything i know about god and god's presence, my intuition, trust of the spirit and so on, in the story i recount god is present in a gay church. when we broke bread and shared wine and i was prayed for individually by the minister it was a very moving experience. this (at the time) rocked my worldview because my (narrow) view at the time was that of course god couldn't be present. i now realise how ridiculous a view i held. it doesn't take long to realise that jesus spent his life hanging out with those labelled 'sinners' or outsiders by the culture of his day and the message he brought to them was that the kingdom is among you, god is present, and a message of the grace and welcome of god. of course the encounter with christ also led to change. but what is particularly intereseting about the gay church encounter i had was that here were people who read the bible very differently to i did then. i'm not saying how i read it now - that is not the point. but before god they are reading it and have a hermeneutical take on it - can i accept with humility that maybe god is more gracious than i am? can i accept that he could show up with people who have a different take on the bible than i did? i had to answer those questions with a yes, irrespective of whether i agreed or disagreed with certain things in the community. and of course the encounter has changed me. but so often god meets us in the stranger or the other... (which btw was also one of pete's points). read the book - don't be afraid...


good reminder Jonny. i recall an exposition of Philipians 2 a few years go by donald english. he eloquently explained over the course an hour how the meaning of the word 'mind' in the 'mind of christ' passage is best understand in english by pondering 3 words . . . . think, feel & do. Essentially, he argued that to emphasize only one does not capture what it means to have the mind of christ. . . . but the exhortation is to 'let the think/feel/do of christ be our think/feel/do.

to me it seems the true measure of holiness.

Simon H

I must admit that I was pretty wary of Pete's book. Not because of 'intellectualism' per se, but because even as an Oxford philosophy graduate I was scared of not understanding. I haven't really had the time to get to the bottom of Zizek and was feeling a bit left out.

So there's two things here: firstly my own intellectual insecurities, which end up with me projecting all kinds of stuff onto Pete (and I did it with Kester's book too) which he doesn't deserve. For that I need to repent as the book is fantastic and I've already sent it to a friend the other side of the world who says it has articulated his own journey perfectly.

The other thing is the one that won't go away, which is that we might be in danger of creating a kind of gnosticism. This secret knowledge requires great knowledge of popular culture, christian language and symbolism, and some pretty dense cultural and philosophical theory. It's hardly 'Bias to the Poor', is it? This is not an attack on Pete's book, which I love - there's something of the naughtiness Ben recommends above in telling people I'm an a/theist; it's more a question as to whether this might not be the future of the church at all, but us fiddling while Rome burns...

The 'liberal' church set out to address the intellectual concerns of a previous generation of well-educated Christians while the pentecostals were busy taking over the world. That the church in the world now belongs to them instead of us is another act of 'faithful betrayal'. Where I'm at personally is that I'd rather read one Pete Rollins than a hundred Bill Hybels or whoever that Driven(tm) bloke is, but beyond what I read, I want to be part of the Missio Dei and I'm struggling to know where all of this fits in.

Help, anyone?


simon my advice is chill! no one is suggesting everyone has to read this or engage with it but it is still important. in the same way that derrida, foucault, lyotard and all that are not going to be read by many but the ripples of their philosophy are huge ('ideas have lags') so we do need people who do read and engage with that world. i still think there is too much anti intellectual stuff around. i'm all for practitioners but not to overplay other vocations and callings - or this is just a new kind of dualism. glad you liked the book so much - very creative isn't it.


Arrived late to this debate and I don't know whether this helps but....

I grew up in a traditional Baptist background and, since finding my own way in the evangelical side of things, found a new tradition of thinking that you are radical and on the edge, but, in reality, just set in a different way of doing things. Also, the Bible can be solved - ie God intended that there be one interpretation of each passage. So, there's the background to where the next bit is coming from....

I had the pleasure/privilege of attending a meeting of Ikon during a recent trip to Ireland with Mark Berry. I had the chance to talk to Pete Rollins and several of the other Ikon guys at some length (over a pint or two of Guinness - what else!). I am not a theologian nor a philosopher and certainly wouldn't class myself as an intellectual, but found great value in what was being said.

As I see it, Christians do not have a good reputation in society as a whole. Largely because of the impression "we" give that, firstly, we have the answer and, secondly, that have it all sussed. Whilst I believe we do have the answer, we are a long way from having the solution...(spot the mathematician!). In my opinion, that is the key issue in all of this. People like Pete Rollins are a gift to the church because they acknowledge that the answer is correct, but challenge our imperfect solutions. It is not what they say as much as what it does to you and the questions you begin to ask, like: Is that right? Why do I believe that? etc etc

Back to your experience with the "gay" church, jonny. My evangelical persuasions tell me that homosexuality is wrong, but my heart tells me that there is much in my life that is equally wrong (sin is sin?). So I am not surprised by your experience when you visited them. Surely the message for today is that the most important thing is to be in relationship with God - that is why Jesus came in the first place! He went to many people that we would not go near because of our particular prejudice framework. I thank God that someone saw past my sin to introduce me to the living God and leave Him to work with me on straightening the rest out - a lifelong journey.

Phil Rankin

"...they acknowledge that the answer is correct..."

Im wondering...what is the question?


There you go! Part of my evangelical "solution" framework that requires challenging - ie that there is an answer! I suppose it boils down to the fact that I recognise that when they refer to God, I am confident that it sits comfortably with MY set of parameters (core Biblical beliefs)for that name!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • jonny profile pic

    i have been blogging for twenty years in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces

    about me | profile


  • instagram facebook twitter flickr vimeo links e-mail me


  • pioneer practice

    the latest book is a full colour coffee table type book which is the first published by new venture GETsidetracked - pioneer practice

    jonny baker book covers

    follow this link to other books, chapters, articles and music i have published.

worship tricks

  • series 1series 2series 3series 4


  • typepad monthly archivesmy first blog