Elements - February 2014

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The world is a busy place, full of competing ideas, disagreements, new inventions, and old things with new wrapping paper.

It's a good thing we as Christians are in the world but not of it. We can stand firm knowing that our ideas are right, our disagreements nonexistent, and our spiritual heritage is unchanging and somehow new every morning.

Let's stop kidding ourselves: Christians can be just as confused and contentious as any other people group. Though inwardly we're being renewed day by day, it's still our outward, public selves that are noticed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

The Lowell W. Berry Center for Lifelong Learning has been the continuing education arm at Fuller for over 40 years, but the rise of social media and Internet commentariat provided a new way to communicate with those who may or may not have a relationship with Fuller Theological Seminary. Therefore, the Burner Blog was founded five years ago to provide the resources of Fuller for pastors and the local church.

While some people deride blogs (originally a portmanteau of "web logs") as being trivial or passé circa 2008, the casual tone combined with easy interaction with readership makes blogging a unique and valuable medium for discussion and idea circulation.

Let's take a look at one of The Burner's most popular posts in the past year: "The God-less Church." The author attended an L.A. gathering of the humanist not-church gathering called Sunday Assembly. Many people here in the States were intrigued by this recent idea that has proven popular in England, and our contributor allowed a firsthand detail of the experience.

For the purposes of this discussion, what she experienced is not as important as the fact that she experienced it and reported it. This allowed others to react, ponder, and contextualize what the movement of "atheist church" means for our own churches—as did another contributor in his response to the first article.

The Burner (and many other religious blogs like it) are the modern temple gate where ideas are discussed—albeit in a very public and transparent way. These conversations about what is happening in the church are not limited to those involved in church; our discussions are visible to anyone interested. This allows those who are skeptical of us and our discussions to contribute and help keep us honest. Further, blogs allow a worldwide audience to contribute their own views, opening our eyes to our own biases, predilections, and sacred bovine.

We can always depend on what Scripture teaches, but the application to the life of the church is frequently confused by our own sense of certainty. As much as I like to consider all the potential viewpoints and make the "right" decision in regard to all of life, my human frailty assures me that others will have corrective opinions that I must consider.

We need a temple gate where theology is worked out, community built, and relationships tested. In our modern/postmodern, disconnected society, we need a place where ideas can be discussed and vetted. In our electronic, digitally translated vernacular, blogs can and do serve that function in their own unique way. So this is an open invitation to join the conversation taking place on the Burner Blog. We need your opinion, but more importantly, we need your wisdom.

David Moore (MA '09) is the administrator for the Lowell W. Berry Center for Lifelong Learning at Fuller Theological Seminary, edits The Burner Blog, and manages the Church in Contemporary Culture Initiative for Fuller's Brehm Center. He lives with his wife and two sons in La Crescenta, Calif.

David Moore

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