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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

the opposite of faith revisited...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What I love about blogging is that no matter how quiet you might be (and, let's face it... this blog has been pretty quiet of late!), there's always a chance that someone new will visit your blog, pick up on a previous post and continue the conversation. And so, I was grateful to get a notification of someone adding a new comment to 'this post' that I originally wrote 2 years & 2 months ago (to the day!)

If you want to read the original post and conversation, including the new contribution 'click here', but I thought I'd post my latest response for those who are short of time...

'Anonymous', please don't think that I was suggesting that the pursuit of knowledge is a bad thing - in fact, quite the opposite. What I was challenging in this post is the viewpoint held by some that they already have 'The Truth', and so leave no room for God to disrupt their faith with fresh revelation, or, indeed, to have their 'knowledge' challenged and possibly changed by another person's 'knowledge'.

It seems from reading Scripture that God is often in the business of disrupting and even subverting people's 'knowledge' about him. One such clear example is Peter's vision in Acts 10 in which God seems to be telling Peter to disobey the Word of God (or, at the very least, Peter's understanding of it) concerning what is clean and unclean.

Of course we must study and be learners as followers of Jesus, and seek to understand more and more as we journey with Christ and one another. However, surely a religious viewpoint that leaves no room for surprise and fresh perspective is one that has given up on learning, believing it has already arrived at 'The Truth'. It seems to me that such a viewpoint has also jettisoned the very essence of faith.

What do you think?...

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 10:31 AM


A Christians sense of confidence in the revolutionary power of the gospel message as Good News is undermined with your insistence that the message must be mixed with with a dose of secular skepticism that pervades our modern western culture...you obviously come from the liberal wing of the church!

EC Skeptic

commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:17 AM  

Dear EC Skeptic

thank you for your comment, which I'd love to respond to here. Firstly, I want you to be assured that I do have a confidence in 'the revolutionary power of the gospel message', as you so eloquently put it. I don't believe that I am mixing that message with a dose of 'secular skepticism', but more a dose of 'biblical humility', in that we can never fully grasp 'The Truth' about God. In fact, whenever we claim to have understood God, what we have understood is, by definition, less than God since God must always be greater than our understanding. As I tried to show in my post, I believe this openness to new insights, and humility about our own understanding, to be fully biblical and in keeping with the mainstream historic Christian tradition.

and so to your conclusion about me... firstly, it puzzles me as to why you want to box me off with a label, i.e. coming 'from the liberal wing of the church'. I am, first and foremost, someone who is trying to follow Jesus and am not too concerned about the labels that people may want to put on me, be they 'liberal', 'evangelical', 'emerging' or whatever. In truth I've found all of these labels to be completely subjective anyway in that, while you regard me as liberal, I know several people (friends of mine) who think I am too conservative! But, for sake of the argument anyway, you are actually pretty wide of the mark since I am from the 'evangelical wing of the church' (to use your terminology).

Instead of trying to suss me and pigeon hole me, I'd love to know what you actually think about the comments in the original post. I'd much prefer to engage with your thoughts about belief and faith than your judgements about me!!

Thanks again for commenting though. I look forward to hearing you further thoughts.


commented by Blogger Malcolm Chamberlain, 4:17 PM  

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