doug gay has a new book out remxing the church: towards an emerging ecclesiology which is absolutely a must read. i found myself very moved by it, no doubt because i have shared so much of the journey that doug is mapping and reflecting on.
it's a work of practical theology that explores 5 moves in a creative structure/narrative - auditing, retreival, unbundling, supplementing and remixing the emerging church. without unpacking them all, let me pick one example - unbundling. doug takes the notion of unbundling from software packages and suggests that having audited its inherited low church protestantism and then retrieved all sorts of treasures in the catholic tradition the emerging church was faced with the challenge of realising that some of the practices and theo-logics that seemed worth retrieving were then tricky to negotiate especially in relation to church order and ministry around issues such as ordination and the eucharist.
the emergers realise sometimes with a degree of shock and dismay, sometimes with a casual shrug of their shoulders, that the guardians of catholic tradition are fiercely committed to the principle that browser and operating system belong together in one 'bundle'.
equally there is an unbundling of belief and practice going on from inherited evangelical 'bundles' - it cuts both ways. so how far are linkages between belief order and practice theologically necessary? this isn't a pithy work or a pithy set of questions. it really does drive to the heart of what is going on and what is at stake. and doug uncovers some very creative resources to justify unbundling in a way that remains faithful to tradition or at least can make a claim to catholicity. for example he draws on moltmann and volf to discuss apostolic procession. and he uses what is an amazing resource - lamin sanneh's translation theme explored in translating the message (one of my favourite mission books ever which by the way the first chapter of is online here as a pdf free) to show what a key resource missiology is because those crossing cultures have had to explore the unbundling of gospel and culture.
what the book is driving towards is reflecting on ecclesial practice into the future and what doug calls a hermeneutical ecclesiology. he has a passion for a generous and humble ecumenism and thinks that the emerging church has some instincts and clues to help point the way. i so identify with this theme. it's a hard journey doug is pointing to and in some ways a call to maturity to a movement. i personally think it's the direction that has to be embraced if there is to be any kind of future for what has been emerging. i simply don't think the voices that call for leaving the church writ large to be the latest greatest radical thing on the edge wash - i'm actually rather bored and tired of them. i sound rather pompous there - sorry about that! i like things at the edge and they can be renewing and are a way to remix as well but i'm uncovinced that the future is there.
he concludes by outlining some church pragmatics - i.e. implications for practice such as being a pilgrim church of disciples, mission shaped, liturgically versatile, political-prophetic and so on. i was excited by the picture being painted of the church being beckoned into the future in the apostolic procession. and everywhere i go and turn at the moment the language of prophetic imagination and mission is confronting me.
anyway see what you think. i get called a fellow grandfather of alt worship in the intro which made me smile - am i really that old?! and the cover image is a photo i took at slot festival a few years back...
thank you doug - the book is wonderful. you have been an inspiration to me personally over the years and nothing has changed there!