wow, what an amazing morning. we had asked scot mcknight to join us this year to talk about the gospel. it’s one of the things that’s come up more than once in recent years, that many of us, as our theology is evolving and growing, are having a difficult time figuring out how to explain the gospel (and, specifically, the cross) to junior highers in ways other than penal substitutionary atonement and bridge illustrations.
scot had asked us to all read his book embracing grace before hand, so we had that common grounding. he reviewed some of that, like his definition of the gospel as:
the work of the interpenetrating triune god
to create a community
to restore cracked eikons
for union with god
communion with others
for the betterment of others and the world.
we talked about recapitulation and perichoresis and other words most of us barely understood until scot unpacked them in his surprisingly casual, witty and relational way (really, he’s a theologian! how’d he get into the club when he’s casual, witty and relational!??). we asked him questions, and he brilliantly responded. he kept thinking he was getting on thin ice with us with things he’d say, and we’d respond, “no, not at all — go on!” but right near the end of his time, he got on some thin ice with all of us by implying (or, actually, mis-speaking, i think) that in the process of salvation, which scot contends normally takes place over a period of years, no one is actually really a follower of jesus until they are individuated and an adult. well, we almost kicked him out the door, in brotherly love, of course. but after a few minutes of clarifying questions and push-backs, we all understood that he was saying something very different than what we’d heard, and we were all ok again! funny moment, in hindsight.
after lunch, as scot headed back to the airport, our little ragtag group brainstormed a list of questions we wanted to discuss, coming out of the morning stuff. then we gave everyone two votes, and prioritized the list for discussion.
first, we jumped into a discussion around the theme “defining the gospel in a junior high context”. i’ll post edited notes on this (and the rest of the discussion) at some point, when i get them. then, after a break, we spent a good amount of time talking about “how to think and talk about conversion and following jesus for young teens, with a view that most of them will need to redefine this when they are young adults?” we had some energy around the idea that the gospel is about more than our relationship with god, but is about restoring our (scot’s term:) hyper-relational distortion of our relationship with god, others, self, and the world. we talked about how cool it would be for our kids to be able to explain what it means for them to be able to articulate their faith by telling four stories (or, as i suggested, four chapters of one story): to talk about one instance where god was or has made a difference in their relationship with god, self, others, and the world. we also talked about shifting our teaching to spend more time talking about the stories of the bible, believing that they include (though we would consciously try to bring this out) this restoration work of the gospel in these four arenas.
we also talked a while about evangelism and alter calls and such. but i’m going to wrap this post up for now!
this evening, we’re all just hanging out, goofing, sharing websites and other silliness. there are 14 laptops open in the room right now, and lots of laughter. check out johnny scott’s VERY slow-loading blog for more pics.