Sunday, November 05, 2006

Theology with Tony Jones

I went to a late night workshop that had Tony Jones leading, as well as a seminar he led yesterday. The workshops have got me thinking about two things:

1. What are the pastoral implications of one's eschatology, especially as it relates to youth ministry?
2. What is the relationship between prayer and obeidience?

1. In his seminar Tony said he thought the world continued to get better and better. This was interesting, but not surprising. Interesting because I think the postmodern shift debunks the progress myth of the enlightenment, and thought he did to. Not surprising because the neo-liberal theology of the kingdom is very postmillenial in its orientation (Martin Luther King Jr and Jurgen Moltmann for example), and Princeton folks tend to fall more along that line in general because of their historic ties with classically liberal theology. (How is that for putting someone in a box.

But it got me to thinking about how one's view of end times effects how one ministers.

Premillineal--means (according to my take on it) that the world is getting worse and worse. This world view is dominant in more fundamental circles, and causes those christians to draw circles and create boundaries. It sees the world as temporal and the enemy. To me this breeds non-hope and is not congruent with the rest of the gospel. It does however have the positive function of encouraging believers to share their faith urgently.

Postmillenial means that the world is getting better and better. This is Tony's view. In this, we are moving and growing toward the world having more and more of the kingdom of God in it the further we go along in time.
It challenges many ministers to be more socially involved on the positive end. It tends to lend itself to sycretism and tends to gloss over the idea of God's judgement.

Amillenial means well....that you dont really buy either of those scenarios. My view of how God works in time comes from Ecclesiastes...."there is nothing new under the sun". Hebrew thought talks a lot about how time moves in cycles, and I believe in cycles. Like many premillialists, I believe that Christ could come back at any moment bringing the new heaven and the new earth. Like many postmillinealists, I believe we are called to push the church to move into the world to make the world better, and that progress and hope are possible.

I better stop, all this talk makes me want to go back to school.

2. A few years ago, I read a book by Stanley Grenz called "A Cry for the Kingdom". In it he believes that is the definition of intercessory prayer...a cry for the kingdom. As this came to mind in the late night theology seminar, I began to wonder more and more about the relationship between prayer and obiedience. As I thought, I began to see a giant feed back loop. Many of us start praying because Jesus tells us to. So we obey by praying. God listens to our prayer. And God oftens answers our prayer by calling us to get involved in the kingdom work of being part of the answer to those prayers. That obiedience brings our lives in line with God's kingdom work and our prayers with challenges us to pray more. This grows and grows which leads us to pray more, and move more into God's work in the world and the cycle continues. I am not sure this makes sense, but I use this blog to process so.....

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