Monday, October 15, 2007

thinking outside the box

I am eagerly reading Scot McKnight's new book, A Community Called Atonement. It is more than well worth the read, and re-read. It is written clearly about a subject that can be revolutionary for us as God's people in this world.

From this comes this thought: we need to be people who are willing to be thinking outside the box. Just what do I mean? First from a faith commitment to God in Christ as well as a faith commitment to Scripture as the word of God to us. And I also include God's working through the centuries through the church, while remembering that unlike God and his word, the church is fallible in its actions and words. Yet the church is what God has chosen to bring his truth and life to this world in Christ.

A Reformation teaching is that we're to ever be reforming. Within the faith commitments I mention above, I want to be among those who are thinking outside of the box. Of course this doesn't mean we're willing to throw truth away. It does mean I'm willing to keep studying and reading and listening to see where I might better understand truth, which means I might better understand how to live as part of those who are in Jesus in this world.

Scot in his book challenges us. And we best take up such a challenge, because this is a worthy attempt to faithfully reflect on Scripture, and the truth and story found in it.

I'm sure at least some of my postings will reflect some of this thinking outside of the box. It must become a part of how we see and read Scripture, hopefully letting Scripture say what it really is saying to us. It then must become a part of who we are as we see God's word changing us more and more into the image of Christ in this world.


John said...

I absolutely agree. Reading Scripture "outside the box" as you so well put it is truly the way to see the truth in the Scripture. We must of course still be in community and bouncing these ideas off of other solid believers, because otherwise we are in danger of misinterpretation. But I think you've hit the nail on the head here.

We must be willing to live an out-of-this-world faith that challenges ourselves and those around us. What faith is it that sits idly by and says "I don't agree, but you can believe what you want"?

I look forward to reading more of your writing.

Anonymous said...

brother ted,

i want to look at your posts about your reading and what you are getting from it.

i just checked out a book called the jesus way by e.h.peterson. have you read that one? i plan to start reading it soon.

Mary said...

Thinking outside the box can be a good thing, as long as we're being held accountable and making sure that our outside the box thoughts have full biblical support. We can run into a danger of falling into the "well this is the way we've always done it" mentality, but we can also fall into a danger of wanting to be so different that we are coming up with new doctrines and theologies that were never recognized by early church fathers. Yes, they were fallible man, but it's interesting to see how these things go back and still remain true to Scripture. So when I hear of teachings that have no tracing back and have only popped up in the last century, for example...then we should question how far someone is taking the "outside the box" mentality.

It can be a fine line that we must be careful not to cross.

joe said...

i would love to hear more about this book ted. i really dont know anything about it. if you get a chance, i would love to hear your thoughts on it.

sacred vapor said...

I would echo what Mary said and state that we need to think outside of the box together as a community... kind of like the Jesus Community... isn't that a blog site somewhere?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Important point you make about bouncing things off other believers. Scot and others like him do this with fellow colleagues and Scot does some of this on his blog, "Jesus Creed", I believe- and even in his university classroom.

But yes, we must be willing to be stretched and challenged, and we must be willing to test thoughts, our own and others, according to Scripture and orthodoxy- and then go from there.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I want to get my hands on that book. In fact that will be one I buy, and that's rare for me anymore since alot of books I'll borrow. I have Eugene Peterson's "Eat This Book" which came with this book I mention in the post. It's just as good as Scot's book. Read most of it once, though fast.

I look forward to anything you might share on "The Jesus Way".

Ted M. Gossard said...

I think your caution is good and that you're quite right.

The neat thing about Scot's book is that you'll find that it's well supported and in line with early and later Christian scholars.

I do remember (and at this point I'm only around halfway through the book; I wish I could have just read it in one sitting, but time and responsibilities did not permit me to, as I just got it Saturday) that Scot mentions only one time when something he is writing or suggesting he can't remember reading or hearing before. But this is the world of Bible scholars. Most of the "thinking outside the box" I think of here is with relation to our own theological understanding and with that, practice.

The Reformers though, I believe, would not be happy with those who I believe, seem to want to stay completely with their theology, good as it is in many ways. "Ever reforming" had to do with better understanding Scripture and the truth revealed in the word of God.

I remember Dr. Joe Crawford, a wonderfully gifted professor in teaching theology state that beginning to understand Scripture as story revolutionized his reading and understanding of Scripture in ways that he had never seen before (he's with the Lord now; he taught at what is now Grand Rapids Theological Seminary; I had him; he threw the chalk eraser at me when I was dozing off after third shift work! a great guy! His passion for theology was contagious.)

Ted M. Gossard said...

I hit the wrong key and completely lost the comment I was typing to you.

Yes, I wish I could have finished this book, but it's one to work on for me as it emphasizes a community in Jesus which carries on the work of Jesus' atoning work through the Incarnation by his death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost.

It emphasizes community in this, without throwing out the need for individual conversion. But it challenges me to really get it or see Scripture differently than what we've heard it time and again, over and over- in individual terms, as well as atonement being limited in its scope. Scot is saying it's much bigger in Scripture and it is played out now, or worked out- in the community of God's people in Jesus.

But yes, I'll try to share more on it soon- at least by next week.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Paul (Sacred Vapor),
Yeah. Thanks. Really you, and all the others should get your own copy and read it. For you a scholarly read would be fine, I'm sure. This is written on a level for scholars yet also for anyone who is willing to take some pains and work on it. It is written clearly and is not a heavy read at all. I didn't want to put it down; Scot just made me want to keep going. Though in my enthusiasm, I was like running through it. Of course this kind of stuff needs to settle in and we have to work on it with reference to Scripture as Mary is saying.

Every Square Inch said...


I look forward to hearing your thoughts - I have not read the book and I'm all for thinking outside the box but...what keeps us in the box of truth? Surely, it must be the holy scriptures.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thinking outside the box does not mean thinking outside of the box of Scripture, for sure. Hopefully that would mean reading Scripture better. But all things must be tested over time.

I probably come across in this post as making this book radical. I don't think it is at all. It's a fresh look and ends up being an affirmation of much we already believe on atonement and on Christ's atonement. But it sees it much bigger Scripturally than it is often seen in different parts of Christianity.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I do want to affirm though, that for me at least, it is a very fresh and new approach to atonement. But in doing so, it certainly does not violate one jot or tittle of Christian orthodoxy, and it is exceedingly careful and humble, I think, in the interpretation of Scripture. As well as being from an author, Scot, who has read well on the subject himself.