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From: eric
Date: Mon Feb 14 17:45:10 MST 2005 Subject: Doug Pagitt's New Theology

Suki: Thanks, Russ (2/15/05)
russ: Not me, but yes, cool (2/15/05)
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russ: Not me, but yes, cool (2/15/05)
Suki: Thanks, Russ (2/15/05)
Here are my notes from Doug Pagitt's "A New Theology For a New World: Reconstruction in Theology" seminar at the Emergent Conference. I apologize that this outline will seem stripped and sterilized to anyone who attended the seminar. It's pretty much impossible to pass along all of Doug's metaphors or to convey the rich discussion that took place among the attendees but there are still many interesting points. Here goes:

Theology is not the story; it’s not the world (word?). It IS the adaptor. Adaptors are always temporary. Our understanding/story continues to change. If technology changes, adaptors change
⇒ If the adaptor becomes critical, what do I do when the “ends” change?
⇒ To get rid of the adapter is not to say it is bad, wrong or stupid. It just doesn’t fit now.
⇒ When you don’t have the right adapter (the well fitting, useful adapter) you make due with what you have in the mean time.

Reasons for new ways of understanding/explaining (Theology)
• Our Story Doesn’t Fit – the story we live in doesn’t fit our theologies anymore.
• The Rules Have Changed – we know differently than we did before, we know different things and we know in different ways. Our job is to do what our forbearers did – do the hard work, standing on their shoulders, not just repeating their works
• This is the work of Theological Reflection – The mandate of humanity, certainly of Xians

The Quantum Reality
“Nanotechnology is the willful manipulation of matter at the atomic level to create better and entirely new materials, devices and systems.”

“The point is that matter…matters. If we can manipulate the atom then the rules of the game change.”

“In the past man has simply taken the material that the earth has provided – wood, stones, ore, etc. – and found useful and creative applications for them, from the first spear to the microchip. In the future, applications will be conceived and entirely new materials will be created at the atomic level.”

Characteristics of an Expanding Theology
• Rhythm w/ God – not distinctiveness from God, getting in step w/ God, not trying to remind ourselves of the differences
• Integrated Holism – not separated, isolationist holism
• Discontinuity – an ongoing creation, not just a plan we can’t understand
• Progressive
• Co-Creative Humanity
• Theological Communities
• Developed & Living in a Context
• Temporary & Evolving – “Our current best guess”

The Critiques
• Cultural Accommodation – Driven by personal Agenda rather than the needs of the people
• Too Willing to Give Up the Essentials – Aren’t there some things that you just don’t take apart?
• You Are Just Too Sloppy – You’re simply repeating the heresies of days gone by
• It’s not broken, why are you trying to fix it?
• Lack of unity (in church culture)
• Driven by personal Agenda rather than the needs of the people (only a handful of people)

“I am increasingly convinced that what matters in our efforts is our willingness to experiment and try - to develop expressions of faith that are fully of our day and time, recognizing that our efforts will be adapted and changed in years to come.”

“To rely solely on the past for our ideas about God is simply consistent with the call of the Kingdom of God.”

“Christian charity & love is a higher value than being right.”

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From: Suki
Date: Tue Feb 15 09:31:11 MST 2005 Subject: Thanks, Russ

Thanks for the note-posting, Russ. Even in its elemental form, the concept is thought provoking. I've always struggled with theology as something somehow necessary but often misapplied. It so often turns divisive and distracting when it should be the very thing that focuses us on unity and service. Anyway, the idea of theology as an adaptor makes a lot of sense to me. Similarly, in language translation, the interpretation of concepts is a tool for communication. It can be altered in myriad ways to get the point across. The interpretation is not, in itself, the point. It seems that we have historically erred in the direction of concluding that the theology is the point rather than, as Doug says, the adaptor.

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From: russ
Date: Tue Feb 15 14:15:39 MST 2005 Subject: Not me, but yes, cool

I must start by admitting that Eric posted those notes, not me. :) I didn't even get to that lecture; I went to a different one instead.

However, I also really like the ideas posted. The idea of theology as an adaptor really makes sense to me; it communicates the idea that the function of theology as a connector between two entities.

I think it was Doug who said, in a different meeting, that we have often replaced the idea of "inerrancy of Scripture" with "inerrancy of interpretation." That is, if you disagree with my interpretation of Scripture, then you are obviously unBiblical.

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