Sweet, Leonard; McLaren,Brian,D; Haselmayer, Jerry. A is for Abductive; The Language of the Emerging Church, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich. 2003. pp.338 price 25.50 Available at Leadership Centre 1-800-804-0777.
Each author presents a brief preface explaining the team authorship. This is followed by a twelve page introduction which stresses that this is a ‘primer’ re; postmodernity. We are in a period of transition but there is reason for optimism. At the end of each chapter (which is one letter of the alphabet) there is an "EPICtivity" that is designed to stimulate some interaction and response from readers. Postmodernity is discussed as it applies to church leaders and church.
The deductive and inductive methods of acquiring information have been replaced by the "abductive method". 31 The difference is going from reasoning to experience. All areas of our life are being changed. i.e. "augmentation". 34. Such change comes with a price. e.g. electronic communication removes personal, eyeball to eyeball communication.
Even "beauty" 39 can be a myth or truth. Beauty is not void of reality. "Beauty is essential to the message" 41. If "believing" is to be authentic it must result in "be-living". 42. Our life-style must match what we believe. We live in an age where peopleneed to feel that they belong before they will believe. "We don’t see that the very act of resisting change changes us." 46. More attention is given to the physical body now.
"C is for Carpa Manana."56 (This a title of a former book by L S) The best way to seize tomorrow (the future) is to be moving forward aggressively. e.g. prophetic ministry during the Old Testament. "Categorical Imperialism" 58 is something that is to be avoided. Our culture is more into stars than celebrities. Other "c" words that are discussed are choice, culture, church, cloning, coaching, community, connectivity, contempory worship, converts, and creation.
Traditional interpretation is compared with "deconstruction which looks for points of inherent tension, contradiction, and incoherence." 87. (opposites) As Christians we are "dedicated servers". 90. To have a disability does not debar from effective ministry. Ministry out of brokenness is powerful. Discipling happens through discourse.
Regarding evangelism, "we retell the (our) story so that it takes deeper root in us". Paul Abernathy. The world has experienced the least change in the area of evil. Experience is "the Holy Grail of the emerging culture".119. "If you experience God, you will have the right teaching". Leith Andersen.
The post-modern church will exist in all forms. e.g. mega-church to house church, cathedrals to storefronts. Other words discussed are festival, foundationalism, fundamentalism.
"Genetic predestinationism" 135 is a very interesting G word. The pros and cons of postmodern ‘globalization’ make an interesting read. Grace has not changed in meaning.
Holarchy " a sacred order to the universe and its web of relationships that combines both hierarchy and heterarchy" 114 is part of the new order. Holiness is not viewed as something we strive for. It is a gift to be recieved. The ‘very good’ of the sixth day of creation had to be followed by the seventh day which made everything holy.
Icons are not to be worshipped. They are to inspire us to worshp. Images or metaphors are huge in communication. The internet is one of the three world inventions that have made a major impact on education. "Interreligious dialogue" 189 has to with things that the church can learn from non-Christian religions.
"J is for the Jesus factor" 169.
"Kaleidoscopic change". 173. The church should be an agent for change not a resistor of change. We live in a karaoke culture. "People want to hold the mike themselves". 127. Both lay and clergy need to experience liberation. In Christian communication love has been replaced by community.
A number of M words are discussed. Modernity seems to be winding down. Mysticism is being accepted and viewed with increasing interest.
Narratives have been around forever and they are certainly important for postmodernists. We have neurological prewirings and new learning styles. The war between science and faith is over. We have "new science". 212.
Ordinary is not only acceptable, it is good. It is a legitimate way to do evangelism. According to the German theologian Christian Schwarz, the church movement must be "organic’ 220 rather than technocratic. "O is for outside the box/boat thinking" 226.
To a postmodern a paradox is not a problem but "a dynamic polarity to be celebrated". 230. "Participatory" 232 describes postmoderns. We can, as Christians, anticipate an increase in persecution. "Postmodernity" 239 is described in uncomplicated terms. It is a term that describes what follows modernity. It is an emerging culture.
Questions- launch askers on a journey. Those with all the answers are suspect and not sought after.
"Radical Orthodoxy" 251. "Truth is the way God does things". Calvin Seerveld. A recieving theology is both "active and passive, serving and waiting". 254. Relativism (secular) is "something worth being against". 256.
"Scenario thinking" 263 is consistent with the biblical teaching about the mystery of how the Holy Spirit works. Some other S words are secularism, spirituality, systems, and systemic thinking.
The question is raised about the place of theologians in postmodernity. Team making, team, tribal and derivatives of transcendent are discussed.
We are surrounded by the unknown, but this does not threaten our faith in an all-knowing God.
"V is for versus verses" 293. This has to do with the Bible being arranged in chapters and verses. It is like focusing on a tree and not seeing the whole forest. Voice (ear-wittness) is more important than seeing (eye-wittness). "He who possesses in truth the word of jesus can hear its silence." Ignatius.
"W is for the Way" 303. John 14:5-6. This was the first name for Christians. W is also for wonder and world.
"X is for Xenophilia." 309 a Greek word translated hospitality. This concept is expanded to include creativity and diversity as opposites to exclusitivity. "To be a Christian means becoming a xenophiliac." 315.
Postmodern ministry needs to be yes driven. Affirmation is sometimes considered the enemy of discrimination. Y is also for "Y-Chromosome." 325.
"Z is for Zending". 331. A little rabbit trail into Zen Buddhism is not a trip into syncretism as much as a challenge to realize the importance of being aware of the things that can be learned from other religions. This could easily result in positive changes.
This book has been called a beginner’s guide to the pathway of postmodern ministry. Leonard and his team have used a novel approach, vocabulary. Many words have been chosen and most of them have taken on a special postmodern definition. I think the EPICtivities (at the end of each chapter) are really helpful in finding some practical application to what is being said about postmodernity. Another great resource from an author that many feel is a guru on how to transition into a culture that is rising up around us.