gingerbread man

This weekend as we were building up to the big thing tomorrow, my wife pulled out a bag of gingerbread mix (listen: if you add the eggs and milk and whatever, it's home made) and my kids started cheering. They love the gingerbread stuff -- the house, the people, the tree.

"So you're going to make the gingerbread this year?" I asked her, trying not to imply anything.

"Nobody'll care after we frost it," she said, trying not to concede anything, and I realized I had the headline for my Darrin Patrick post.

Now, don't get me wrong, OK? I liked all of his 3 talks at Covenant Seminary, and especially liked his talk which he called "the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" of the emergent church. But after listening to part 3 there, I sorta felt like he thought that if he layered on enough rhetorical frosting, nobody would care that he was really telling the radical edges of the ECM that they were preaching a different gospel, and that they needed to get over others pointing that out because that's the only way to resolve the differences.

I mean: that's how he pretty much ended that talk, and I was sort of blown away by how frank he was about it. And if you listened to only, say, the last 10 minutes of the talk (prior to the Q&A portion), you probably will get a very different impression of what he intimates about that movement than if you sit through all the "good" part, and even through the "bad" part. His description of the "ugly" is spot-on, even if it's covered in all kinds of other things to sweeten it up.

There where were moments in part 3 where I had to pull out a pen and scribble down a note or two. For example, it was a little sheepish (trying to avoid saying "coy") to use Justin Taylor as a cover for the "bad" segment of the talk. Sure: JT was plainly the source of that segment, and good on Pastor Darrin for citing his source. But it seemed to me that he was trying to avoid being the bad guy by pretty much reading what JT wrote on the subject of the ECM word for word.

Another moment was when Pastor Patrick followed a rabbit about what it means to preach to the culture -- you'll find it in the section where he says he wants to be preaching to "dudes", among other "cultures".

Here's what I don't disagree with: I think we have to context our churches in a way that the people to whom we are reaching out will give us a listen. You know: I'm the guy with the comic book blog, right? I don't think Fuller-brush door-to-door evangelism is useful today, and I think it is more useful to find social forms which people today can relate to in order to present the Gospel to them there.

But here's my problem with where I think Darrin's talk leads to: I think it leads to a place where we forget that the Gospel is (sing it with me) the solution to culture. That is: it's fine to get to the "dudes" and the "DINCs" and the farmers and so on by having some kind of way of talking with them and to them. It's another altogether when we avoid, because it is hard, the fact that the Gospel is supposed to reconcile races and cultures and all kinds of men not just to Christ but to each other -- that is, that all kinds of men are (not will be) reconciled to each other because they are reconciled to Christ.

I think that's the fundamental challenge to the current iteration of "missional" thinking -- failing to make reconciliation a real issue for people. It seems to me -- and people are welcome to knock this one down if they can -- that making "dude" churches (as one example) overlooks the fact in Scripture that "dudes" need older people to have a complete body of Christ, and vice versa. It's not enough just to say that your church is part of the greater, invisible church.

So that said, I enjoyed Darrin Patrick's impression of the gingerbread man. You may have a different opinion, and you now have the full-fledged version of haloscan into which to express it.

And have a napkin -- you have some frosting on your lip.