Work in Progress (I need your help)

On vanguardchurch.com, my resource page, I am working out a new presentation of the Gospel. I want it to focus on the image of God in humanity, and how Christ, as the perfect image of God, redeems us to our original design and purpose.

It’s meant to be a kind of “emerging 4 spiritual laws,” only this is presented in 8 stages of the redemption story.

The people who have inspired me toward this project are: NT Wright (in his Creation and New Creation in the New Testament Lectures), Michael Wittmer (in his book, Heaven is a Place on Earth), Scot McKnight (in his blog entries and new book, Jesus Creed), Brian McLaren (in his book, The Story We Find Ourselves In, where he tells another stage-by-stage story of redemption), Dallas Willard (in his book, Reformation of the Heart) and, mostly, my own biblical study of what I feel is the key storyline of the Bible.

But I need your help: TEAR THIS APART! I’m looking for constructive criticism as this is written…kind of an emerging community project.

Won’t you help?

Check it out at Created For Glory on www.vanguardchurch.com


#2 changed to "Our glory has darkened" to reflect Romans 3:10
#3 Verses added
#4 Questions added
#5 Changed to "The Recreation of Our Glory is initiated in what Jesus accomplished"


lyricano said...

Part I smells awfully modern to me. You use a very modern rationality to arrive at a Purpose for humanity. Recasting the "laws" as a "story" does not itself make your presentation postmodern.

Bob Robinson said...

Michael Wittmer e-mailed me these comments:


I really like your gospel presentation, especially its emphasis on glory and image. It is an extremely engaging message that captures the thrill and excitement of the gospel. I have only a couple, fairly nitpicky observations.

#2, "our glory has faded"--I like the imagery of "faded," especially as it fits the metaphor of glory, but it seems a bit weak to me. Our glory is seriously messed up, not merely faded (though on second thought, you probably mean it in a C. S. Lewis way, that sinners are just a shell of what they once were).

#3, "all of creation is suffering" could be misread in a Buddhist way, that this world brings me nothing but pain. Perhaps "broken" would avoid this potential misreading?

#4--I wonder if you may want to introduce the point behind Jesus being the perfect image of God. Perhaps something like "Our glory is restored through Christ...."

#5--I like your emphasis on the resurrection, which is much needed today, but wonder about the word "begins." I think one could argue that our recreation began chronologically already with the cross, and even further back with the life of Christ and incarnation (along the lines of Irenaeus' recapitulation theme).

#6--merely stylistic, have Christ be the agent, the subject of the sentence rather than the object of a preposition. So something like "Christ transforms us to reflect God's glory..." This still seems a bit awkward. Sorry.

#7--I'd keep the unity going with image and glory. This point begins with a new concept of a spiritual journey. Can you link this to the previous themes of image and glory?

Thanks for asking for this input. You are on to something very good here.


Scot McKnight said...

We are made to be in union with God and communion with others and, as such, to govern God's good creation.
Sin cracks the union and communion.
Individualism prevents us from restoration.
The community places in communion with others and union with God.
Christ is the perfect embodiment of the union/communion and offers us to be restored by entering into his embodiment.
We enter into this by embracing Christ.
If we remain in that embrace our Eikon can be restored.

Scot McKnight said...

I need more Wittmer in mine, but it is a crack at it brother.

Bob Robinson said...


Well, maybe my goal is not merely to be postmodern, but to present the Bible's story in a way that is pre-modern (that is, biblical and story-driven) and that will also make sense to a postmodern person (who, I think, wants to hear a moving, profound, positive-impact story and how this can be truly experienced...rather than the modern evangelical way of stating the gospel as propositional facts one must know).

I'm not Rorty or Foucault, but I've learned from them. I'm not anti-modern; I'm more "after-modern." Is that good enough?

But your comments are very helpful...I do not seek to "recast the laws," but to get to the real story of the Bible. I admit that the way I do this here needs a lot of work. That's why I'm "open-sourcing" it!

My goal is to re-articulate the biblical gospel, not just regurgitate the modern renderings of the Gospel in a new garb.


Bob Robinson said...


I like the idea that "Christ is the perfect embodiment of the union/communion" and that we "enter into this by embracing Christ."

Christ offers us an embrace to begin with, no? We are embraced as the prodigal Son is embraced by his father...the arms are open, awaiting us to embrace him back (and then to hang on!--"If we remain in that embrace our Eikon can be restored.").


Daniel said...

I enjoyed what you got so far. Keep at.

lyricano said...

I think that your pre-modern (medievel or ancient?) storytelling is laudable, but you are also unwilling to fully embrace the a-rationality of it. Your presentation is most postmodern (if that is what you want) when it embraces claims without regard for rationally justifying them. They just are. This of course then requires that you let them be and allow readers to draw their own conclusions (not necessarily the rational conclusions you prefer). That is, you need a reckless disregard for how others come to their knowledge--merely embrace your perspectivalist knowledge. And if someone "misreads in a Buddhist way" it is till good.

Robbymac said...


Brother Maynard sent me your way -- I just read the first part, and I'm going to sit down and look over the whole thing a little later when I can give it the thoughtful time it deserves.

A key question, after reading the comments for this post, would be whether or not postmodernism trumps everything else. In other words, is the ultimate goal to allow postmodernism to dictate what is "allowable" (ie. embracing a-rationality), which would be of concern to me since it would end up corrupting the Gospel as much as others have accused modernism of corrupting the Gospel.

This is a great idea (the community approach), and I'm looking forward to interacting in more detail later.

Bob Robinson said...


Thanks for being a part of the open-sourcing of this presentation!

Someday I will blog on this, where I can give it more space and thought: I think that postmodern ideas about "Truth" and our ability to use "Reason" are generally right. And I think it lines up with the biblical idea that we are a fallen people, unable to think rightly without the grace of God invading and bringing us to Himself, who is "The Truth."

The results of our quest for Truth through our rational abilities should always be called into question. But the fact that Truth exists "out there" is the hope that still drives thinking people to keep at it. It's what Scot McKnight called a "soft postmodernism," one that says, Absolute Truth exists, but I highly doubt our ability to know Truth absolutely.

But this is where the grace of God enters in. The TRUTH (God) is capable, in ever-increasing ways as we authentically become more holy and reflect the image of God, to reveal Himself to us. The TRUTH is, therefore, ultimately not a PROPOSITION but a PERSON.

I need to work through this some more. Look for a blog post soon!

lyricano said...

I find the person not proposition angle intriguing--I look forward to your post.

However, I must take issue with the "soft postmodernism" notion. Modern skepticism and scientific methodologies all agree that the Truth is not fully knowable. But they are modern precisely (in part) because they believe that there is a Truth out there somewhere separate from ourselves that can be understood (in part). Asserting/assuming "the fact" of an Absolute Truth falls into the old modern problematic of the mind-body object-subject dualities. The postmodern (soft or not) perspective may allow for truths, but they are constructed in a web of ever-shifting perspectives. There is no Truth out there, it is all a matter of perspective.


p.a.hiles said...

hey bob,
i haven't read through all of your pesentation but i like what i have read! it sounds a lot like the stuff that we have been talking about in our "oasis" group.

Scot McKnight said...

I've been so busy I've barely maintained my own blog. Finals this week, though.

Yes, the whole "embrace" thing ( which you may know is from Volf's book) begins in the gracrious embrace by God/Christ/Spirit of us. As we embrace the embrace we are transformed into the one who embraces us.