When I first started this blog I posted on this subject. . I am still trying to sort through what changes have been wrought in me since receiving my M. Div. and now ending up as a co-pastor of a church plant, and leading a small intentional community. I have posted on this on the Communities blog yesterday, and it seems Tripp may be preaching on this to some extent tomorrow at Reconciler.
This current reflection is brought on by a wonderful meeting Tripp and I had with another church planter in the area. I could relate to much of her journey: in part we both have been involved with eastern meditation. I found it deeply encouraging and I hope she did as well. However, I am not sure I could go down the path she has gone in terms of out reach, and this startled me.
I have read Marcus Borg, thoroughly love Dominic Crossan (I find his historical Jesus work stimulating), and have read Bishop Spong, found it intellectually challenging though I didn't always agree, and definitely do not agree with direction his thought has finally taken him. I could go on. I do not though see any of these as a good way to introduce people the Christian faith. Yet, at one time I did entertain that possibility.
Interestingly though I don't think I would object to having an adult bible study look at these works along side others. I would though not encourage an adult Bible Study to Just Read Crossan or Borg, maybe encourage a bit of balance with NT Wright.
I didn't all ways think this way. When I was a student it was about the search, the questions, it drove my faith. Yet as my posts indicate I hope, there was something other than simply questioning. I was searching for something. I guess I wonder if our colleague's approach encourages that search, or simply allows people to come to Christianity without asking a whole lot from them. Crossan Borg and Spong, seem to in differing ways still bow first to realities external to the faith. Christian faith must first pass a particular litmus test (historical critical, scientific etc..).
This didn't matter when I was a student and when I wasn't pastor, because the spurred me on to ask questions, as a person of faith. As you can see I have not held to their conclusions. I made use of their scholarship for my own ends. Namely seeking to know and understand the faith once delivered to the saints.
As I sit here preparing for our worship service at Reconciler tomorrow. I remain skeptical that Crossan and Borg will help people find that faith. Maybe I am wrong, but they don't seem to me to be good representatives of the faith. Not that I deny that they are Christians, just that they are better representatives of a particular academic faith, than of the faith of the church.
Note: I don't think fundamentalist Christian thinkers or very conservative ones are necessarily the answer either. It all leaves me in an odd place.