Thursday, August 24, 2006

First of several things today, I think

Not the most informative title, but I haven’t blogged about my time in Canada at the Practicing Resurrection conference because I am not sure what to make of it. I had a good time, met several interesting people, but being around even ecumenically inclined Christian Reformed folk was odd. I did feel a sense of desperation from many of those who were there and so there was a certain paradox: There was the assumption that something had gone wrong in their corporate faith, that is of the Christian Reformed tradition (or whatever tradition you came from) but this was expressed by mostly veiled criticism of the institution of the church but at the same time a clinging to Reformed theology. I hate to write this because I was definitely refreshed in the presence of these people and I think they are asking good questions about faith and life, and yet I felt something was off, something that needed to be affirmed that this group could not bring themselves to affirm.
This paradox is perhaps not far from where I am in fact at with Reconciler and the Evangelical Covenant Church. I look beyond my borders attempting to be of the church and yet find myself in this very young Protestant denomination spending much of my time explaining that I am still Covenant, without much enthusiasm for defending Covenant exclusives. So part of the difference is I feel less of a need to make sure that what I am doing or thinking bears the stamp of a particular Lutheran theology. I find my Lutheran Pietist heritage helpful because I can see the continuities with that which was before the Reformation.
Also, my sense of disconnect may have to do with that I had chosen the conference to take time to begin a study of the seven ecumenical councils of the Church, their histories, theology and canons. After giving the iconography workshop in July I realized that as an iconographer I implicitly affirm all of them and discovered that it is no longer implicit in my self but very explicit as I argued that the Icon is the painted witness of the faith of the Church. As such I decided that I needed to be more deeply acquainted with the councils than the cursory attention my seminary education gave them. People at the conference when I mentioned that I was studying the seven ecumenical councils either saw it as a scholarly and intellectual exercise, slightly eccentric thing to do, and/or were very puzzled that I or anyone would care to study such a thing. And as far as I could tell the organizers and most of those who were there would be solidly Trinitarian and have a faith that in some sense is dependent on all but the seventh, given that Reformed theology does tend to be decidedly iconoclastic. Yet *CINO seems to want to in the very least question the iconoclasm that has lead Reformed and much American Christianity to more or less abandon the arts. They also find no problem associating with an iconographer.
Well, I didn't think I would post about this first, but there it is this now leads into at least one of the other things that are on my mind.

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