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Theology 2013 Milbank 146 7

Theology 2013 Milbank 146 7

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Published by JasonClark
Review of Church in the Present Tense for Theology Journal 2013
Review of Church in the Present Tense for Theology Journal 2013

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: JasonClark on Jul 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Alison Milbank
the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What's EmergingScot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin Corcoran and Jason Clark, Church in
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at Kings College London - ISS on July 19, 2013tjx.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
Scot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin Corcoran and Jason Clark,
Church in thePresent Tense: A Candid Look at What’s Emerging 
, Grand Rapids, Michigan:Brazos Press, 2011; 176 pp.: £12.99/$21.99 (pbk)
One of the speakers on the DVD accompanying this volume compares theattempt to define Emerging Church as ‘nailing jello to the wallbut it doesoffer clarity about the movement, especially in the Reformed American con-text. Two chapters by Scot McKnight question the dominance of Atonementtheories in driving evangelism in contrast to the Acts preaching of the narra-tive of Jesus’ life, and the various models of biblical interpretation in evangel-icalism, offering instead a structure based on Wikipedia as a form of midrash.Peter Rollins, rock-star-style leader of the Ikon project makes extensive use of post-structuralism in his chapter on ‘transformance artin which participants‘enact the death of God (as deus ex machina) and the resurrection of God (asthe one who dwells among us) with the purpose of transfiguring one’s socialexistence’ (p. 98). As encouraging occasional liturgies of rupture and self-questioning, this could sometimes be quite effective; as theology, this is areheating of Bonhoeffer’s religionless Christianity, which, for this reviewer, isa cause and not a panacea for the loss of nerve in post-war ecclesial mission.It was a pity, however, that the DVD contained no liturgy from Ikon. Its bestexample of new worship was a Coca Cola liturgy, which had some real criticalpolitical bite, and seemed to be both communal and participatory. Otherexamples of so-called innovative liturgy were the usual conventional mixtureof prayer station, tea lights and overuse of power point.Some of the most interesting writing is by Jason Clark, who discusses the waythat new forms of ‘church’ can themselves spawn a commodified spirituality. As aleader of Emerging Church, he is aware of the need for the liturgical year, forpatterns of communal worship, and he argues that consumer capitalism itselinvolves liturgical practices. He suggests a new short-term catechism for a six-week commitment, involving daily prayer, weekly worship and intercession, mon-etary giving and tithing, and a meal and discussion with some real teaching. Hecalls it ‘Flow’ but a thousand parishes call it ‘Lent’! I really rejoiced in theserediscovery sections of the book as I did also in its seriousness: this is a moresophisticated analysis than the usual ‘mission-shaped’ volume. It is still, however,not in conversation with contemporary academic theology or the tradition, eventhough professional academics are included. You might feel that Scot McKnighthad never encountered hermeneutics or Narrative Theology and Corcoran wouldhave found Aquinas so helpful. Derrida and Z ˇizˇek are not really faced head-onbut are watered down. The chapter by Kevin Corcoran on philosophical realismis so concerned to keep analytical and continental philosophy together that agood argument becomes incoherent. It seeks to avoid knowledge as ‘scientia’for ‘sapientia’ but lacks the concept of participation, of uniting with the objectknown, that would bridge the divide. The audience for this book is withinEmerging Church itself but it is none the less fascinating to eavesdrop on their
Theology 116(2)
 at Kings College London - ISS on July 19, 2013tjx.sagepub.comDownloaded from 

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