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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Dr. D.A. Carson, one of evangelicalism’s most respected scholars, started out as chemist, but in the course of “helping a young minister with his Sunday school in a fledgling work … where he was trying to plant a church” (p. 79), it gave him pause as to whether he had more to offer God than as a chemist (not that he was dismissing the importance of one’s vocation as a means of glorifying God and reaching people).

For Carson, the decision to leave behind his career as a chemist was sealed when he heard a missionary speak on Eze. 22:30. After obtaining his M.Div., Carson pastored a church while also occasionally filling in at the local Baptist college. At some point, he was offered a full-time position in the college, but declined; however, he did “wonder if [he] should get more training” (p. 80). In the end, he resigned from the church and began pursuing his Ph.D. at Cambridge.

Like Piper, Carson’s father was a preacher, which surely was a large influence on each of them. So, even while pursuing his scholarly studies, it was not surprising that Carson took opportunities to preach and teach in an ecclesial setting. After getting his Ph.D., Carson returned to take a post at that same Baptist college that he turned down earlier, while also helping to plant a church. The scholar as pastor.

In 1978, Carson accepted a position at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), where he has remained ever since, where he is Research Professor of NT. Like Piper, Carson has chosen to resist moving about, choosing instead to stay put at TEDS. He does admit that the “most serious temptation” (p. 81) to leaving TEDS has been to “return to full-time pastoral ministry”, but was firmly advised not to by Carl Henry and Kenneth Kantzer. We can be grateful that Carson heeded their advice.

On this note, as one who has benefited greatly from Carson’s scholarship, I have sometimes wondered why he has not written more rigorously academic books (he certainly is more than capable of doing so). For example, he has authored a few commentaries, but I was always hoping he might have contributed more substantively—perhaps to the NIGTC (New International Greek Testament Commentary) series, for example. I think this just reinforces Carson’s pastoral heart; indeed, almost everything he writes has been geared towards a wider audience rather than to the scholarly community specifically. Indeed, one of the points he makes is to “never forget people”.

In conclusion, while I certainly concur that pastors should be more theologically astute, and that scholars should be more engaged in sharing their knowledge to the church in a manner that the average Christian can understand (not an easy task given that many Christians are not ready for solid food, Heb. 5:11-14), I remain skeptical that things will change in any significant measure. There are a number of reasons for this, but first I would submit the following observations (regarding pastors as scholars):

  1. The insistence of many churches to have a single teaching/preaching pastor is without biblical support
  2. Churches have adopted a tradition of distinguishing pastors from elders, whereas the NT seems to use the terms pastor/shepherd, elder, and overseer/bishop synonymously
  3. In the NT, a local church is guided by a plurality of co-equal elders; there is no notion of primus inter pares nor any distinction between “ordained”/professional and “lay” elders
  4. Elders are to be “able to teach”
  5. Other gifted brothers (and sisters) can also teach/preach, since the NT church gatherings were informal and participatory

The reality is that today’s pastor is inundated and overloaded with so many tasks and expectations, that for them to even remember some of the basics of what they learned in seminary is a challenge. Indeed, within a few years, it has been my observation that many will have forgotten how to exegete a passage in Greek or Hebrew and will be guilty of breaking some hermeneutical principles. To expect busy pastors caught up in institutional bureaucracy and such, to be able to stay abreast of current scholarship (which is increasingly specialized and sophisticated), is unrealistic, to say the least.

David Mathis, one of the co-editors of the book, tries to build credibility for his case by anachronistically calling Jesus the “truest pastor-scholar”. Really?! Seriously?!

I will offer what I feel is a more feasible and realistic model after I finish reviewing a few more of the other books mentioned in the previous post, but for now, I’ll just say that we should not add another burden to the already unrealistic expectations that local churches place upon “the pastor”.

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I have four related books on my reading list that I am hoping to finish soon so I can make some summary remarks on, with specific reference to my current ecclesial context.

The book by John Piper and Don Carson is based on talks given by them at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on April 23, 2009. Piper began his career in the academy, earning his doctorate in theology before eventually discovering that his passion was preaching; Carson, on the other hand, began pastoral work in humble circumstances in my hometown, before he was asked to fill a vacancy at a local Baptist college, which led him to pursue a Ph.D. in NT studies at Cambridge.

In describing his journey, Piper came to the realization in junior high that he “would never be a preacher” (p. 26) like his father, because of his deep-seated anxiety (he calls it “physical impossibility”) in speaking in front of others. Through his schooling, he did develop an appreciation and ability for “painstaking observation” and “precise thinking”. One might think then that Piper would be ideally suited to following a scholarly path — were it not that Piper confesses to be a “painfully slow” reader. After obtaining a major in literature, Piper wondered if he “should teach English literature as a vocation”. (p. 35)

But that changed after hearing two of evangelicalism’s elder statesmen (Ockenga and Stott) speak in the mid-sixties, which led him to pursue studies at Fuller Seminary. After graduation, Piper was unclear what to do next, so he heeded the advice he was given to pursue a doctorate while he was still able to. Despite Piper’s handicap of being a slow reader, he nevertheless obtained his doctorate in 1974, after which he accepted a teaching position at Bethel University and Seminary. A sabbatical in 1979 resulted in The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1–23 (Baker, 1983; rev. ed., 1993), but Piper realized his teaching and scholarly days were over. In 1980, Piper was called to Bethlehem Baptist Church and remained there until he preached his last message in 2013.

It was during his Fuller days that Piper encountered Jonathan Edwards and the resulting epiphany that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him” (Christian Hedonism as he would later dub it) would be the signature emphasis of his entire ministry. For him, rigorous reading of the Bible and the attendant demand to follow the lines of argumentation is what he now considers as “scholarship”. He remarks that:

If I am scholarly, it is not in any sense because I try to stay on the cutting edge in the discipline of biblical and theological studies. I am far too limited for that. What “scholarly” would mean for me is that the greatest object of knowledge is God and that he has revealed himself authoritatively in a book; and that I should work with all my might and all my heart and all my soul and all my mind to know and enjoy him and make him known for the joy of others.

What can we learn from this look at Piper’s journey? First of all, despite what appeared to an initial obstacle, God helped him overcome his paralyzing fear of public speaking. Is Piper an “effective” communicator? One could argue that he is more passionate than he is eloquent, but I suppose that’s subjective.

One point bears mentioning and that is that Moses and Jeremiah did not see themselves as competent speakers, and it also seems some of the Corinthians were judging Paul for his lack of eloquence and oratorical skills (1 Cor. 2, passim; 2 Cor. 11:6), but obviously God used them nevertheless. Sometimes I fear that Christians place too much emphasis on whether a preacher is articulate or eloquent, without paying much attention to the character of the man or the content of the message. Often, the preacher may be a very charming and competent communicator but his message can be sub-biblical and/or lacking “meat”.

Secondly, with respect to Piper’s preaching, given his academic beginnings, I am a bit disappointed that he chooses to minimize his interactions with current scholarship when preparing his messages (insofar as I can tell). However, Piper also a very active writing ministry, and for me personally, this is where I appreciate him the most.

Finally, it is encouraging that Piper is not a “careerist” pastor, but has faithfully served one church for over 30 years. Too many clergy view the pastorate as just another career and hop from one church to another in the hopes of landing a more lucrative position. I do have some concerns where a church depends primarily on a single pastor for the bulk of its teaching, but that will be addressed later.

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JR Woodward and Dan White, Jr., The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities (IVP; 2016)

During lunch a few days ago, one of my Christian colleagues shared his frustration in trying to find a suitable church home for him and his family. He was looking for a community of believers who were serious about discipleship and the pursuit of godly living. As he further shared his burden with us, I (half) jokingly said to him that it looks like he’d have to go and plant a church from scratch. At this point, when it became apparent that this might indeed be a path he may have to take by the grace of God, I suggested that he read some of the missional literature; in particular, I mentioned two books that I had read / am reading.

Earlier, I had posted a brief blurb on Michael Frost’s book, and in this post I will give an overview of The Church as Movement, which I just finished reading yesterday.

move

This theologically-grounded but practical book is divided into four sections (themes), each with two chapters, thus giving rise to 8 missional competencies:

  • Part 1: Distributing
    1. Movement Intelligence
    2. Polycentric Leadership
  • Part 2: Discipling
    1. Being Disciples
    2. Making Disciples
  • Part 3: Designing
    1. Missional Theology
    2. Ecclesial Architecture
  • Part 4: Doing
    1. Community Formation
    2. Incarnational Practices

These four sections are bookended by an Introduction and an Epilogue, and at 240 pages, this book is not a long-winded treatise, but in keeping with its subject matter, the pace is brisk without feeling rushed.

The Foreword by Alan Hirsch begins with an epigraph by business guru Peter Drucker: “People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete— the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” It is sad that some things are so sacrosanct that even when they become a hindrance to the advancement of the gospel or church life, Christians refuse to let go of them. As Hirsch notes, “most churches operate out of a largely obsolete understanding of the church that was developed in a completely different age and for a completely different set of cultural and social conditions— largely that of European Christendom.” Hirsch and others have proposed an alternative model of church for the new millennium, and Woodward and White have done a church a huge service in presenting this new paradigm in a fresh and appealing manner in their book. Both write as practitioners who have been through the ups and downs of planting missional-incarnational communities, so this is not a case of hopping on the missional bandwagon and spouting off theories: no, what they write is borne from the fires of failure and boots on the ground experiences. It would be apt to let the authors introduce the rationale for yet another “missional” book:

This book is an attempt to help people plant the kind of churches that reflect the viral movement of the early New Testament, fuelled by the values of tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, locally rooted presence and boundary-crossing mission. This is “church as movement.”

At the heart of the book is a concern to return to the centrality of discipleship within a communal context. Indeed, I sighed with frustration and sadness when they write in the Introduction: “This book is best used with a group of four to twelve people. … It is important to work through this material with others, since it was designed for a group rather than to be digested alone.” Well, heck, I don’t have even three other people I know who could be part of what they call a “discipleship core”. So sad! It means that my learning from the book will be shortchanged and I will not fully benefit from the formational learning aspects (meta-learning, reflective learning, and experiential learning) that require communal participation. Sigh …

The first theme is “Distributing” which I take to be a shift from a hierarchical and centralized focus to pluriform gifts and polycentric leadership — i.e., a distributed and relational approach.  They begin by describing the Church as the “Christian-industrial complex”, at least those churches that are held up as models of success:

In our American imagination success means growing bigger, collecting more resources, consolidating power, creating strong hierarchical structures and growing rapidly.

American church leaders’ imaginations and metrics for success are increasingly shaped by the things they can count. But, as Albert Einstein said, “That which counts is often the most difficult to count.”

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Dropping the Act

scaryclose

… we will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us.

When I heard that I knew it was true. I’d spent a good bit of my life as an actor, getting people to clap—but the applause only made me want more applause. I  didn’t act in a theater or anything. I’m talking about real life. (xv)

No doubt about it, you will find many actors in your average church; people are terrified to take off their masks for fear of being judged. While Donald Miller’s latest book is about his personal journey from insecurity/isolation to intimacy and from failed relationships to freedom to be himself, much of what he writes is applicable to our relationships we have in church life.

Miller describes how he terrified he used to be of being known by others and how he felt people would only love him if he found ways to impress them. We see this played out in churches where Christians jump to serve in as many ministries as possible, in order to feel appreciated and acknowledged. I know how they feel: been there, done that. And one can’t blame them, because the alternative is that you’ll be largely invisible. So if we’re honest, more often than not, we are motivated by our desire for applause and adoration rather than for God’s glory. At the very least, the temptation is always there, for most of us are “attention addicts”.

self

Miller shares what a therapist once said to him: “when some animals feel threatened they make themselves appear bigger. She said it ‘s true with people too—they often make themselves appear better than they are in order to attract others and protect themselves from threats.” (31) What costume are you wearing to make yourself appear larger? Your job? Your wealth? Your education? Your good looks? Your biblical knowledge? Your position in church? Miller confesses that validation by others is very intoxicating. But then he “began to wonder what life would be like if I dropped the act and began to trust that being myself would be enough to get the love I needed.” (35)

We construct a false self to so others can’t see the shame we feel and we embellish that persona with all sorts of things. “Somewhere along the line I think many of us buy into a lie that we only matter if … We only matter if we are strong or smart or attractive or whatever” (56). However, “the more we hide, the harder it is to be known. And we have to be known to connect” (20). Paralyzed by the fear that we will not measure up to others’ expectations and petrified that no one will love us if they knew our true self, we continue to hide our imperfections and insecurities. But as Miller points out: “Grace only sticks to imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either” (45).

“Perhaps that’s another reason true intimacy is so frightening. It’s the one thing we all want, and must give up control to get.” (98) And how do we control others? Through manipulation, which usually operates subtly. Miller identifies five categories of manipulation (104-108):

The Scorekeeper

“Whenever somebody starts keeping score in a relationship the relationship begins to die. A scorekeeper makes life feel like a contest, only there’s no way to win.”

The Judge

“When a Judge personality is religious, they’ll use the Bible to gain control of others.”

The False Hero

“The false hero manipulates by leading people to believe they have something better to offer than they do.”

The Fearmonger

“Fearmongers rule by making people suffer the consequences of insubordination. The mantra of the Fearmonger is: If you don’t submit to me I’ll make your life a living hell … Fearmongers are completely incapable of vulnerability and, as such, incapable of intimacy.”

The Flopper

“A Flopper is somebody who overdramatizes their victimhood in order to gain sympathy and attention. … Floppers assume the role of victim whenever they can.”

In a chapter entitled “The Risk of Being Careful”, Miller discusses the “roles that vulnerability and self-expression play in relationships” (138).  For most people, vulnerability is a frightening place to be, but then “How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?” (140)  So in church, for example, we put on our religious robes and pious masks and pretend we got our sh*t together. No wonder it’s so hard to find genuine fellowship with other believers. He goes on to ask, “Is there anything more toxic than the fear of being judged? Judgment shuts us down and makes us hide. It keeps us from being ourselves, which keeps us from connecting with other people.” (143) We say we believe God has accepted us in Christ but are we really living out that truth in our lives? Furthermore, we are commanded to “Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you” (Rom. 15:7; CSB).

Relationships are messy: manipulation, codependency, obsession. Intimacy and vulnerability is painful and scary because it means we have to be “naked” before each other—but we’re not comfortable removing the fig leaves we’ve covered ourselves with. Not everyone wants to be “scary close”; many people have inscribed on their foreheads “please keep your distance!”

keepback

Which leads me to the final point: ultimately our deepest longings can only be satisfied by God. But even then, that longing will not be fully satisfied here, but will have to wait until the eschaton when we will be finally and fully transformed. Miller himself discovered this as well: “I realized there was a subconscious longing in my heart that could never be resolved by another human being.” (213)

But knowing the reality of unfulfilled longing doesn’t dampen the desire for deep connection, for fulfilling friendship/fellowship and intense intimacy; and yet, the ache of that unfulfilled longing is actually for our good. For that yearning in our heart is a compass to point us Godward and a daily reminder that no substitute will satisfy.

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Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament (Zondervan; 2015).

advances-greek

[I am grateful to Zondervan for providing me a digital review copy of the book through Netgalley]

Summary

If you are at all serious about exegesis and serious study of the Word, then this book is a worthwhile read, no matter how rusty or limited your knowledge of NT Greek is. Dr. Campbell does a commendable job of bringing the reader up-to-date on recent scholarly advances in Koine Greek in a manner that is informative, engaging and accessible.

Remarks

The book begins with a helpful historical survey of Greek scholarship from the 19th century to the present. If this introductory chapter is any indication of the rest of the book, the reader can be assured that Campbell is a reliable guide to the different topics that are surveyed in the remainder of the book. Furthermore, given the important role that linguistics has played in contemporary scholarship, he also provides the reader with a fascinating historical introduction to major developments in the field of linguistics. For example, he surmises that the lack of progress in Greek studies seems to correlate with the “rise of modern linguistics”. He explains that prior to Saussure, the approach was based on “comparative and historical philology”; after Saussure, a synchronic, rather than diachronic approach carried the day in linguistics, “thus making the direction of nineteenth-century Greek philology suddenly almost irrelevant.” (p. 39).

As the survey comes to a close with the modern period, Dr. Campbell cites the contributions of key figures such as James Barr (The Semantics of Biblical Language), Kenneth McKay, Kenneth Pike (one of the early SIL scholars), Johannes Louw and Eugene Nida (for their ground-breaking work, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains), Stanley Porter (perhaps the most prolific Greek scholar today) and others. The chapter closes with a nod to a major resource recently published, the three volume Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (Georgios K. Giannakis, editor).

Chapter 2 offers a brief but excellent introduction to linguistics, a field that is foreign to most people. Campbell’s interesting and informative survey serves to highlight the importance of linguistics and its impact on Koine Greek studies. After outlining the various branches of linguistics, there follows a discussion of the two major schools of linguistic theories: generative linguistics, largely originating from the work of Noam Chomsky and “characterized by the core assumption that all languages are shaped by a universal grammar, or universals of linguistic structure” (58-59); and functional linguistics (and in particular, the Prague school and Systemic Functional Linguistics) which seeks to “account for how language is used, and how the use of language informs us as to its structures” (60). The chapter closes with an illustration of how one’s adherence to a particular linguistic methodology can colour one’s view of, in this case, of temporal reference in Greek verbs.

In the same vein, the following chapter provides a helpful survey of lexical semantics and lexicography. I appreciate that Campbell gives examples from the NT to highlight the practical importance of the lexical principles under discussion. In particular, he discusses the complexities and challenges of applying these principles to NT Greek lexicography.  I really came away with a renewed appreciation of the difficulties entailed in producing a work such as the standard Greek lexicon of the Greek NT, BDAG, as well as the innovations introduced by Louw and Nida in their Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains.

As I am but a novice student of NT Greek and have been away from the Christian scene for awhile, I was not aware of the paradigm shift “taking place in our understanding of Greek voice, with particular reference to the concept of deponency” (91). In chapter 4, Campbell presents arguments from scholars as early as James Hope Moulton and A.T. Robertson questioning the usefulness or legitimacy of deponency. In an appendix to The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Neva Miller concluded that “if the verbs in the above classes are understood as true middles—and if active forms could not have expressed such concepts—then it may be that categorizing such verbs as deponent is no longer relevant” (93). Other scholars followed suit in their criticism of the standard treatment of deponency, culminating in the 2010 SBL Conference (Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics Unit) where Stanley Porter, Bernard Taylor, Jonathan Pennington and Campbell called for the abandonment of deponency. Campbell concludes by highlighting some of the outstanding issues and outlining a path forward, noting that there at least 2 recent NT Greek grammars that teach voice without using deponency.

Chapter 5 deals with a major and controversial topic, verbal aspect. After introducing the concept and helpfully distinguishing tense, Aktionsart and aspect, Campbell moves on to give the reader a history lesson on how the concept developed. In the modern era, Kenneth L. McKay’s contributions must be mentioned, but it was really Stanley Porter’s dissertation, published as Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood, that really set things in motion. This was followed shortly  by the independent research of Buist Fanning, whose dissertation was published as Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, in which he adopts a more moderate route. This has led to “one of the best-known debates regarding verbal aspect … whether Greek tense-forms semantically encode temporal reference alongside aspect” (114). Of more interest to most readers, including myself, was the helpful section on how verbal aspect can enhance exegesis, and here, Campbell does not disappoint. Granted, the examples are necessarily brief, so he refers the reader to his introductory volume, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek.

Chapter 6 is entitled “Idiolect, Genre and Register” and as the title implies, deals with issues relating to style and genre. According to Campbell, “[s]ome of the points of interest in observing idiolect are vocabulary, syntactical constructions, patterns of verbal usage, and more macro features, such as those observed through discourse analysis” (136). To be honest, I found this chapter a bit of a tough slog, not so much because it is not well written, but because the concepts were largely new to me.

The following two chapters deal with the important topic of discourse analysis, “one of the most exciting new areas of research related to Greek exegesis” (148), which he defines as a “interdisciplinary approach to understanding how units of text relate to one another in order to create the theme, message and structure of a text” (148, 149).  Campbell highlights the benefit of discourse analysis as providing a robust methodology for assessing the exegetical conclusions obtained through traditional exegesis. In Chapter 7 he begins by outlining the four major schools of thought, then proceeds to survey the influential work of M.A.K. Halliday. This is followed in Chapter 8 with a review of the work of Stephen Levinsohn and Steven Runge; in both chapters, Campbell offers a brief but helpful evaluation of each approach as well as its implications for NT exegesis.

I found Chapter 9 on pronunciation rather fascinating, and from the onset of the chapter, Campbell states his position that “[a]ccurate pronunciation is a sign of respect for the Greek language, is people and its history. It also has implications for one’s enjoyment and mastery of Greek” (192). Based on recent research, it is argued that the common (Erasmusian) pronunciation scheme for Koine Greek is incorrect and that it should pronounced in a similar fashion to modern Greek, for which Campbell provides a helpful pronunciation chart. Interestingly, Daniel Wallace, NT scholar and author of the popular textbook, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, defends the traditional Erasmusian pronunciation, primarily on pedagogical grounds.

Speaking of pedagogy, the book’s final chapter is in fact, all about teaching and learning Greek. Campbell notes that in many introductory grammars, students are rarely asked to actually begin reading the Greek NT, and translation exercises typically deal only with short fragments instead of entire paragraphs or sections. He does cite one recent grammar as an exception, Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek, where by chapter two, students are already asked to read significant portions of John’s Gospel. There is also a brief discussion on the use of software tools such as Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos, and how they can enhance the study of Greek. Finally, the chapter closes with a review of immersion learning and advice for how to retain one’s proficiency at the language once it has been acquired.

In conclusion, Campbell’s book offers an excellent, engaging tour of the latest in NT Greek research and is highly recommended!

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Keeping Company with God

Recently, a friend and brother in the Lord decided he doesn’t want any of his Christian books anymore—he’s in a bit of a spiritual rut lately. Ironically, a good number of books in his library were formerly mine when I got fed up with church and decided to unload my massive library. I gladly took them off his hands and have been enjoying thumbing through the pages of my “old friends”.

Right now, one of the books I’m savouring is James M. Houston’s The Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God (formerly published as Prayer: The Transforming Friendship). The opening sentence in his Preface are words that could have come straight out of my mouth: “For many years, prayer was [still is for me!] probably the weakest dimension in my life as a Christian.”

Houston said the Aha moment for him was when he realized the truth of what Clement of Alexandria said about prayer as “keeping company with God”; from henceforth, he “began to see prayer more as a friendship than a rigorous discipline … more of a relationship and less of a performance.”  I see now that years of religiosity and ritualized routine have had the same effect on my prayer life.

He goes on to assert that “Prayer is a matter of theology and ethics, both thinking and doing. It is profoundly guided by what we believe and by how we behave. The character of our prayers will be deeply determined by the character of God as we know him and have experienced him.” I think that last bit is key: “experienced him”; I confess that I may have a fairly solid theological knowledge of God, but I can’t say that I have a deep personal and experiential knowledge of God.

Hopefully this book will help to deepen my friendship with God through prayer.

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

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Creativity and Community

“… Pixar’s fifteen-acre campus, just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, was designed, inside and out, by Steve Jobs. … It has well-thought-out patterns of entry and egress that encourage people to mingle, meet, and communicate. .. the unifying idea for this building isn’t luxury but community.” (p. ix; emphasis mine)

– Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace, Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Random House; 2014)

creativity

When I was part of a house church, the contrast was such that it was quite apparent to me how church buildings spoke of our corporate life together as a spectator sport—what with rows of (uncomfortable) pews, all of us sitting and staring at the back of someone’s head and the packaged program. What a far cry from the intimate, interactive and participatory nature of church meetings in homes that we read of in the NT!

That said, I’ve come to accept that church buildings aren’t going away anytime soon. I do wish however, I could rennovate our church building, with a view to proxemics, the functional use of space and the principles of aesthetics and design thinking.

I can dream in the meantime, can’t I?

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