September 20, 2008

Rollins & Bonhoeffer in Coversation

"The argument can be made naming church is never really naming church but only our understanding of church." *I have taken the liberty in the quotations from Rollins to replace "God" with "church" in light of Bonhoeffer's discussion on the church as revelation.

The funny thing about revelation for Rollins is that although it may be the opposite of concealment, it still has concealment built into it. He tests his case by showing the various and even contradictory forms of God revealed throughout the testimony of the Scriptures do not paint a complete or clear picture of God for every case. "Hence, revelation ought not to be thought of either as that which makes church known or that which leaves church unknown but rather as the overpowering light that renders church known as unknown."

Rollins states, "Consequently, we do not do theology (church) but rather are overcome and transformed by it; we do not master it, but are mastered by it." We must be willing to give up our talk about God and the church, or hold it loosely for the church to overcome us. I'm concerned that the emerging church conversation has become a place to master church, instead of be mastered by it. We are grateful and appreciated or generous enough to appreciate the ancient church, but too bitter to do the same for the modern church.

In line with Rollins' thinking about God, the church is not an object to be studied, replicated, etc. Rather, she is a subject to be in faithful relationship, understood not through study but experience, an experience with reality that transforms reality, not describes it.

Thus, God or the church as revelation can be met through the a/theistic religious community or church. Instead of a gross fundamentalism that excludes all other interpretations of reality that differ from one's own, "the a/theistic approach can be seen as a form of disbelieving what one believes, or rather believing in church, while remaining dubious concerning what one beleives about church."

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