Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Will Greg Boyd and Woodland Hills Church Join the Brethren in Christ?

Greg Boyd's megachurch, Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN, is considering joining either the Mennonite USA Church or the Brethren in Christ Church.  The congregation has been studying the tenets of Anabaptism since last May and they seem to be ready to join a historically Anabaptist denomination. 

Boyd has alienated many mainstream evangelicals by disowning conservative politics, attacking the idea that America is a Christian nation, and embracing "Open Theism."

If Boyd decides to join the Brethren in Christ, I think he will find some fellow travelers.  But he will also find a lot of mainstream evangelicals.  If a recent session on the historical identity of the BIC is any indication, it seems as if the denomination is facing a bit of an identity crisis.  Watch it here:

If Woodland Hills does join the Brethren in Christ it will be the only BIC congregation in the state of Minnesota.

I am definitely awaiting some analysis on this front from Devin Manzullo-Thomas, the guru of BIC-Evangelical relations.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Hm. But do they want HIM?


Interesting stuff--Anabaptist neo-theism?

Naum said...

Is that the best you can do -- quote some fundamentalist self-appointed heresy hunter, endowed with lesser theological credentials and tenuous grasp of church history and patristic scholarship?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not atall, my dear Javert. He could be just what they need, but they should know what they're getting into.


"For a more contemporary understanding of change and its implications for Anabaptist Christian theology, we need to acknowledge the work being done by John Cobb who, while claiming no formal identification with Anabaptism, is widely read by many Christian students of the Bible and is finding an increasing readership in the Anabaptist colleges and seminaries. Cobb’s work is important to our discussion because his “process theology” represents an effort to fit what is essentially a post-Einstein metaphysic of reality (Whiteheadian process philosophy) into a Christian theological framework. While Cobb’s notion of life and God himself as ever-changing and in process may seem unfamiliar and strange to an Anabaptist understanding, even this idea may find a home in a theological tradition which has consistently refused to think of God as a static “it.” By saying “no” to the temptation to nail down the Holy through the idolization of material objects or the apotheosizing of human beings, Anabaptist Christians said “yes” to the freedom of God’s spirit to change and be changed. Thus they did not attempt to make material and specific that which was by its very nature immaterial and intangible, what Whitehead called “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” When this fallacy was committed by other theological traditions it served only to create confusion particularly when it was in the principalities and powers that the concretization of the Divine was sought.

In conclusion, we might agree that there is some meeting ground between an Einsteinian view of the world and Anabaptism, and while it is a little late in coming, perhaps it’s time for Einstein to gain some popularity with Anabaptists. In this regard, several questions deserve attention: Is it time for a new, post-Einstein Anabaptist theology, and if so, how much should we allow Einstein’s discoveries to weigh in our interpretation of the Bible? Asked another way, Is it possible to have an Anabaptist natural theology grounded in Einsteinian physics, ala process theology, or would this be incompatible with the Anabaptist Bible-oriented theological tradition? Finally, with regard to the church, How has the revolution of thought brought on by Einstein’s new physics contributed to the “generation gap” often seen between younger and older Anabaptist Christians (e.g. differing perspectives on political involvement), and how do we address the concerns of the next generation of 48} Anabaptists whose formal education will probably be very sophisticated and refined in its post-Einsteinian philosophical base? In response to these questions we will, no doubt, raise still more questions about the role as well as the validity of an Anabaptist expression in a post-Einstein world. Perhaps in the answers to these questions we will find that the only real problem we have is not with Einstein’s way of thinking but with the fact that we have ignored for so long its kinship with our own Anabaptist way of thinking."