Project on Lived Theology

This post is for the Lived Theology Project team-members that have been meeting at my house on Tuesday evenings to study Resident Aliens.

Steve Ewart suggest posting on my blog some of the ideas shared this week, as several were unable to participate in the discussion.

After about 20 minutes of prayer and reflection, to prepare our minds and hearts, we discussed 3 main themes found in the chapters 3-5 of our book.

1.> The theme of story. We spent most of our time talking about story, and how life in the Christian Colony is life in the ongoing story of God. We talked about Hauerwas’ metaphor of “jumping on a moving train…” when we are baptized into this narrative. For the most part we agreed that we loved the shape and tone of thinking in these terms. For example, we love the idea that God’s story is a story of working through his people throughout history to shape society – to “tell the world how the world is suppose to be.” Another implication would be that we are a people on the move. We have a history that we’ve been “grafted” into, and we have a future that shapes how we behave, what we do, and who we are. Without this “meta narrative” not only would we be lost, but the whole world would be left to it’s own stories, that are not the “true story.”

2.> The theme of salvation. We did highlight a portion from early in chapter three where our beloved authors seemingly redefine Salvation. I you remember from chapter 1, Christianity is not a set of beliefs or doctrines that we must give mental ascent to in order to be saved from hell. Rather Christianity is an adventuresome journey with God, following His Son, being shaped and formed by His Spirit into the likeness of that Son. We wondered if there wasn’t some need at Southwest for a re-defining of “salvation.” However, Mike Leatherwood warned us that we must be careful that our definition must never stray for a Christ-centered and salvific tone and nature. We agreed that the New Testament is “rich” in shaping a full understanding of salvation. So, instead of redefining salvation, we considered, re-visiting a more holistic and biblically-rich view of our salvation. What we all seemed to agree on though, was the Southwest as a whole-entity may perhaps limit salvation to a “fire-insurance” or “saved later from God’s wrath” view, with little understanding of “here-and-now” salvation and deliverance.

3.> The theme of “The Sermon on the Mount.” Finally we visited the strong call of Matthew’s Sermon. We loved a lot of what our author’s wrote in chapter 4 about the Sermon, but especially the acknowledgment that it has little to do with private or individual ethical demands. On the contrary the Sermon makes little sense apart from a community that is committed to being a people faithful to the call of Matthew 5-7. We talked a lot about the implications of being faithful to the vision of a citizenry of the Kingdom of God seen in those chapters – and what might we be capable of were we more cognoscente of this vision and call as a body in SW Jonesboro, AR!!

Thoughts to add??? Remember your homework!!!


  1. Thanks, Joe, for going to the extra trouble to post this so that I can play catch up somewhat. Sorry to have missed, but City Council ran a little long, especially with the post meeting “sidebars”

    I loved Hauerwas’ focus on the ongoing narrative of God enlarging the cast to include each of us as we come into the story. Although throughout much of my adult life I have experienced tremendous difficulty comprehending how salvation could be based on a set of propositions (very common in the tradition in which I was raised), I’ve also struggled with the often flippant late ’70’s “its not rules, its relationship” mantra on salvation. About all that I could come up with that made sense to me as I tried to comprehend God’s working in and on my life was that I was “on pilgrimage.” While this, too, sounds all too banal, it really does mean something to me.

    Without ever actually working through the idea that the “ritual” that I engaged in at my baptism was an “initiation” into the metanarrative of God’s healing work in creation, I definitely understood that at some point (the “salvation moment” as the more fundamentalists among us describe) I had joined a band of pilgrims who were traveling together toward God. Although the words used at my Baptism indicated that I had just experienced a life changing event and I knew that I was expected to describe it as such, generally that was a “feeling” that I never had. At many times in the years to come, I was even given to doubt that my Baptism had validity because I had not experienced such a glorious transformation.

    Over time, I came to realize that it was not that I had not “found Jesus” (another “fundie” term), but rather that I had begun to travel with Him as I encountered the days of my life. And, moreover,I had a deep awareness that my journey would last my entire life. And, while I do not believe that what seems right to me must become universally true, it has seemed that “the journey toward God” that I had come to understand was something that each of us should be able to experience.

    Even in my most “baptist” Baptist days, I could never understand the idea of “once saved, always saved” (Baptist term is “security of the Believer/ its actually an extension of some Calvinist ideas, however), but I have also had much difficulty with the ultra-conservative Primitive Baptist concept that my soul daily (maybe even second-by-second) was in extreme jeopardy as if there had been no saving grace that I could claim from Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    It has long seemed to me that I was on a journey much like Chaucer described in his “Canterbury Tales.” All of us on this pilgriamge are moving in a band. Some may have joined after it first began; some may leave before it arrives “in Canterbury”. Each of us has a particular story to tell; each of us relates to God in a manner peculiar to ourself. But looked on from a distant hill, whether the “pilgrim band” is actually on the road or is camped due to night, bad weather, or imminent danger, the pilgrims are part of a single saga. And while all of us on this journey are often confused as to exactly where “Canterbury” is located and each is often quite unsure as to what exact road to travel, the pilgrims have a definite awareness that they are on their way to a grand and salvific experience.

    Altough I’m not sure that anyone can understand what I just described, when I read it to my self, I can only think, “Wow!”


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