Talkin’ with Tony Jones about Postmodern Ministry

Sunday night, in cooperation with the Open Door's BJ Woodworth (an innovative emerging church pastor in Pittsburgh), I hosted a dialogue meeting with Tony Jones of Emergent-US.

What a great night! About 50 people piled into a room and (after enjoying the delicious “finger foods” that Leslie Thyberg provided) had a rousing discussion with Tony about postmodernism, church, truth, foundationalism, and theology. In attendance were a number of CCO campus ministers, members of three emerging churches is Pittsburgh (Open Door, Three Nails, and Hot Metal Bridge), and many others who were interested in the topic. Holly Zaher, another leader in Emergent was in attendance. She is involved with Three Nails.

A couple highlights:
The Postmodern Turn. Tony explained that in the modern age (beginning with what is commonly called the “Enlightenment”), we became over-confident in rationality. We trusted in human reason in order to bring about equality in the human race. But then the middle of the 20th Century (especially the Nazi death camps) proved this hope to be false. People needed to rethink everything in light of Auschwitz—philosophy, literature, art, and even theology were all affected. The trust in scientific rationalism came to an end, and we realized that people do indeed seek to obtain and keep power through all means possible. The postmodern turn is the realization that humans use word-games to gain or keep power, basing their claims on precarious foundations.

Seminary Education. Tony hopes that a new seminary education will emerge that will replace the Germanic research university model of education and the "theological encyclopedia" division of studies (biblical studies/systematic theology/church history/practical theology) that we now have. He also wants to see seminary education done at the local level—as students are doing ministry and immediately applying their education in the transformation of the world and the lives of the people to whom they minister.



Matt said...

Wow... sounds like good stuff! I wish I could have made it...

Any more emerging-type gatherings happening anytime soon?

::Matt Thomas in Warren, OH

bj woodworth said...

Thanks Bob for pulling this together we are still expereincing the ripple effects here in Pittsburgh and will be for some time now!

Matt there are some of us who get together monthly to do an emergent cohort group in Pittsburgh. Our next meeting is October 26th.

Check out: emergentpittsburgh@blogspot.com.

Tony Myles said...

I was there that weekend but missed the event you mention. However, I do have some good notes I'll be blogging in the next 48 hours from some time with Tony. Thanks for sharing yours! - look for mine soon!