George Wood, through a related thread over at AG Think Tank, has helped me nail down some good opening questions for our conversation. Let’s start with this one:
“What book(s) would you recommend as a starting point for discussion [about Emergent Pentecostalism]?”
This might be a good place for me to confess that, in the presence of guys like George P. Wood and Tony Jones, I am an intellectual pauper; a gnat. The only post- high school certification I can lay claim to is a ministry diploma following two years in a non-accredited AG Bible College (and in my experience was a first-rate education where theopraxis is concerned) and a smattering of junior college classes. If I can hold my own in a conversation with these or others of like stature, it’s less due to any formal education than to a voracious appetite for reading – and listening.
When I graduated from Bible College, my chief concern was professional success, measured in terms of attendance, tithe dollars, and programming edginess. Here are a few of the books I’ve read since that time, which the Spirit of God has used in tandem with life experience to re-center my world view, or framing story, to be what I would consider more holistic and Jesus-centered:
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson – Challenged my perception of God in history
The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson – Challenged me to follow Jesus as devoutly as I believe in him
[The Cost of] Discipleship by Deitrich Bonhoeffer – challenged me to view the church as a sacrament to the world
The Gospel of Matthew – Challenged my perception of the nature of Jesus’ kingdom
The Gospel of John – Challenged my perception of the incarnation
Off-Road Disciplines by Earl Creps – Challenged my perception of ministry in the Assemblies of God
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen – Challenged my perception of Christian leadership
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning – Challenged my perception of God’s love and grace
Everything Must Change by Brian D. McLaren – Challenged my complicity in the “suicide machine” and my perception of redemption
There are more books, but these are some of the more influential ones. I realize as I look over the compiled list that I probably did very little to answer the question, it’s such a broad swath of reading. The scary thing is, there are also plenty of texts I still feel I must read in order to start to get a grasp, not only of Emergent but that holistic, Jesus-centered world view I was talking about earlier.
One book in particular, which might help center this group’s conversation, is Tony Jones’ newest release, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. I hope to pick it up in the next several days, and if there are others who would like to read it together through a pentecostal lens it might prove a good first exercise for this budding conversation. Of course, that’s only my opinion. I want to hear yours.
So what have you read that has instigated a deep shift in your thinking? And what book(s) would you recommend as a starting point for this discussion?