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Over my holiday break I read Tony Jones, The Church is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement.

I will be blogging about this over the next few posts but want to start by laying some cards on the table to make it clear where I am coming from.

First, my doctoral studies are in Ecclesiology.  Second, I have used the work of Richard Osmer to teach Practical Theology.  I used Practical Theology: An Introduction while Jones’s thesis  uses The Teaching Ministry of Congregations.  Third the methodology in my thesis uses the work of Nicholas M. Healy as reflected in Church, World and the Christian Life, Jones uses an article by Healy and then adopts some of the terms.  My final comment is that last semester I completed a unit on Introduction to Educational Research.  This has been helpful to bring me up to speed with some of the latest methodologies in Social Science style research which are mentioned by Healy, Osmer and used by Jones.

Now I agree that Jones’s thesis is necessary and a useful one, it contributes to knowledge as all good doctoral theses do, it has good insights and good warnings to the Emerging Church movement but I am not comfortable with it.

The following posts will demonstrate where and why I am uncomfortable about what Tony has written and what further consideration I would like to see.


I was thinking this morning it was 2 years since I had last blogged.  That would be because the last 2 years have been way too busy for me.  It turns out it is less than that.

Due to a number of changes I have more time and I am really starting to think of writing again.  One debate I do not want to get into at this time is the huge Calvinism vs Arminianism debate which is really a detailed discussion on monergism and synergism.  If you really want more details of the debate look at the new blog by Terrence Thiessen.  For an Arminian view of some of the basic issues see Ben Witherington’s reflection on the loss of his 32 year old daughter.

However this morning I was wondering about God’s timing.  You know those sort of incidents when God seems to do something when you most or least want it.  My position was made redundant at the end of last year (“laid off” for my American friends) and while offered two alternative positions I decided neither of them suited me.  Before this however I had applied for a job knowing the redundancy may be coming.  A day after submitting all the paperwork I was told the job had just been offered to someone else.  Subsequently after being laid off I noticed the position was still advertised and I sent an email to be told I was in the pool of candidates as the offer was rejected.  If I get the job I will say it was all God’s timing, if I don’t I will be disappointed but argue that I (and my wonderful wife) have been praying for a while for God to show us what to do.

Which makes me think is God’s timing all about our freedom or His?

This is not just about synergism or monergism but about are we free?  God’s timing, God’s freedom to act in situations is not necessarily about us but about God and situations.  Open Theism sees God as open to the future based on the freedom of his creation.  Synergism sees God responding to the moral creature.  Monergism sees God ordering everything.   While I honestly lean to synergism, I wonder if the Open Theists, removing the flinty bedrock of Greek philosophical ideas from our understanding of God and replacing it with a solid layer of Biblical revelation, are on to something.

So what is God’s timing in the end?  Is it about us or God or the future and how free God is?  I am not completely sure yet.  I realise this uncertainty may make people nervous but I do know I am called to seek God’s will for my life, come to Christ and acknowledge him as Lord and let the Spirit work in me.  And somehow in the midst of that God’s timing works itself out.

So what of God’s timing are you waiting for?


David Morgan, lecturer, theologian, husband, father and blogger.
January 2012
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