Thursday, January 29, 2009

ventilation/ Jesus Brand Spirituality

I want you all to pretend like you see me in my office, sipping at a can of V8. That's a morning routine for me. V8 now has those ventilated cans, where the fluid bursts forth, making it possible to chug tomato juice in one toss of the hand. If I am in a hurry, I down a can in one try. If not, I try to sip.

But there is something else I must vent about today. It's the new book I am reading, Jesus Brand Spirituality by Ken Wilson.

Just finished it actually. This isn't a review. It's a vent. This book has really gotten my BVD's in a bunch as my dad says. The last time I remember a book making me so maddeningly frustrated was when I read McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy. I knew right away that that book would, though. McLaren as much says so in his introduction. The problem with these two books, for me, is the perspective of the authors. Both authors have a different epistemology than I do

Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know. I am a critical realist. That basically means that I believe it is possible to know absolute truth, though it requires a continual reanalysis of our own thoughts (see NT Wright's New Testament and the People of God). I find this view most likely because it makes God knowable, and allows us to have faith based on evidence rather than simply experience.

Reading Wilson's book frustrated me to no end throughout. It had a few excellent chapters. It was built on an excellent premise. It had incredible discussion questions after each section. It was rife with logical contradictions, simply uninformed in many areas (particularly church history and different types of prayer), did not actually talk very much about the person of Jesus (outside the perception a person has of him, which isn't clear because different people have different perceptions), and I couldn't put it down. Every chapter had one or two points that were incredibly thought provoking.

My biggest issue is that Wilson is a big wig in the Vineyard movement. Honestly, if this is the way the leadership is headed, it will be difficult to follow. When experience and emotions have the same authority the person of Jesus revealed through the Scriptures has (because we alledgedly can't know anything for certain, only what we perceive we know), I think we are pointed in the wrong direction. In other words, in spite of his assurance that Christianity is community focused, Wilson can only understand God through his own personal set of data. This is far more myopic than a critical realist view of Scripture/God/Jesus.

It was postmodern in the best and worst sense. That is, in fact, a value judgment of postmodernity.

So I guess I'll have to read it again.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

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