Princeton is perfect. The perfect location. Well… not perfect… but good.
Envision ’08 [EV08] is being held at Princeton University. I’ve done a minimal to fair amount of historical research on Princeton both in a post-protestant-reformation course and independently. The study of religious development in the British colonization period has always fascinated me most particularly due to my interest in the protestant reformation and its movement from the halls in Germany throughout Switzerland and England and then ultimately to the land we now call the United States. I’ve also been astounded at the misunderstanding and appalling stances and language centering around the concept of “separation of church and state.” My undergraduate Senior Colloquium project was entitled “‘Separation of church and state’ cannot exist.”
Formerly The College of New Jersey, Princeton was the fourth college established in British North America preceded by Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale. As stated in the online document, Princeton University in the American Revolution, “The charter was issued to a self-perpetuating board of trustees who were acting in behalf of the evangelical or New Light wing of the Presbyterian Church, but the College had no legal or constitutional identification with that denomination. Its doors were to be open to all students, ‘any different sentiments in religion notwithstanding.’ The announced purpose of the founders was to train men who would become ‘ornaments of the State as well as the Church.’” I may deal in greater detail with the subject of “church and state” soon (as it is quite fitting for the EV08 theme of “the gospel, politics, and the future”).
The University is extremely rich in history yet the conference focuses on envisioning the future. I have to wonder if there was some ingenious creativity from the planning board in selecting the location. Aside from the implications given by Princeton’s existence as a premiere research university from which emerges great scholarship, leadership, and innovation, does the location suggest the necessity for the church to return to its ancient roots? What parts of church history need revisited and recovered? As the church progresses from the past should it/we also progress toward the past?
Princeton is perfect. The perfect location. Well… not perfect… but good.
A couple weeks ago I posted a question about the church. Actually it was a phrase that read “When I hear the word church…” There were (7) options from which to choose:
I want to regurgitate.
I envision social justice.
I view people talking about God.
I crave community.
I picture people in pews.
I reflect on covenant.
I think of my family.
All of the choices may be individually or simultaneously plausible on some level depending on one’s understanding and experience of church. Hoping to receive an “initial reaction” or to at least stimulate more thought I chose to disable the option allowing one to give multiple answers. Now I am much more curious about the thought process. You may offer an explanation of your survey answer or simply respond to the question:
What do you think when you hear the word “church?”
I received an e-mail from Keelan Downton, Assistant Professor of Narrative Biblical Theology at Somerset Christian College about blogging for the upcoming Envision Conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary. Many of my upcoming posts will flow around the conference conversation theme of the gospel, politics, and the future. Your comments concerning the current situation of the church and an envisioned direction are highly valued. Please click and write in the “THOUGHTS” link at the bottom of each Envision post so that we may engage in dialogue together before, during, and after the conference. I also hope to begin some analysis of what Keelan called “a recent barrage of ‘manifestos’” including The Emergent Manifesto of Hope, The Evangelical Manifesto, and The Holiness Manifesto.
I’ll be flying out of Columbus, OH for my first trip to New Jersey where I’ll be crashing at my aunt’s home if I do not stay on campus at Princeton. I’m sure my mind will need some good rest from the interactions with the many speakers, authors, teachers, and missional practitioners including Miroslav Volf, Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Brenda Salter McNeil, Shane Claiborne, Jeremy Del Rio, Doug Pagitt, and Bart Campolo. I’m very excited about the diversity of the speakers and the Learning Tracks that are being offered.
There is also an online dialogue June 2-3 to help create a statement entitled, “Envision the Future: The Next Decade” using a collaboration software called Synanim. The forum may be especially interesting and useful for those who are unable to be present at the conference. Be sure to sign up to engage in the online discussion about the problems and/or issues that need addressed in/by the church. It is free to sign up for the online dialogue enabling you to offer your voice in the conversation.
What questions would you find interesting to be posed at the conference?
I just found the video below online. A friend of mine wrote a curriculum for students transitioning from high school to college. He is now partnering with Josh McDowell for a conference on faith issues during transition. He took some clips in his living room a little over a year ago. Here I am talking about the doubt that I journeyed through while studying theology in college. And, yes, I still doubt. I still have a lot of the same questions that come to mind. Please give your response to the question to the right.
I took the Oakwood Hall staff to see THE GOD’S AREN’T ANGRY TOUR on December 2 in Cleveland. As I sat listening to the final portion of the teaching, a solitary tear ran down my cheek. A phrase was repeated over and over and over again and was the same phrase that I heard from my wife and a mentor during my journey in experiencing freedom. A video recording of the tour is now available on DVD and will begin shipping June 6. Students at MVNU are welcome to borrow my copy for personal use.
I highly suggest a viewing of this teaching for everyone but most particularly for all those who have made it the purpose of their life’s existence to critique Rob Bell or any type of teaching that is seemingly emergent in nature. Click the image above to be directed to thegodsarentangry.com where you may preview and purchase the teaching on DVD.
I am somewhat frequently interviewed by students here at MVNU for Research Writing projects, Public Speaking presentations, or Christian Life and Ministry papers. Tonight I was interviewed by Daniel Coutz. It was one of the more thoughtful interviews that I have experienced and I appreciated the approach. The conversation went something like this:
Daniel: “Respond to this statement: The United States is a Christian Nation.”
Travis: “No earthly empire is distinctively in keeping with the way of Jesus. Those who claim the United States to be a Christian nation need to enroll in a post-reformation church history course that discusses the period of American colonization. Also helpful would be a study in theology and philosophy to explore the definitions of theism, deism, and idolatry.
Daniel: “Do you feel the American flag should be displayed in churches? Why or why not?”
Travis: “No. The church is laced with a history of symbol and icon for visual engagement in worship and when one considers what the American flag represents I would have to question what one is worshiping. I would have no problem with displaying a flag in a church if it was displayed beside every other flag of every other nation so long as the symbol is understood to represent equality and unity.
Daniel: “Respond to this statement: The loyalty of a person belongs first to his country.”
Travis: “Why would one view an earthly empire as something to which giving loyalty is necessary or a priority? My suggestion is that most would give said loyalty due to an enculturation that promotes a sense of loyalty as nessecary. I would also suggest it has something to do with the supposed ‘safety’ provided by the military branch of a certain country’s government. Fear would be that which fuels loyalty to an earthly empire.”
Daniel: “Respond to this statement. Christians living in the United States should be patriotic about the United States.”
Travis: “One’s definition of patriotism would be primary. I find it problematic for a follower of Jesus to pledge his allegiance to an earthly nation. So in the sense that the recitation of the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ is patriotic, then patriotism may be considered contrary to ‘worshipping no other gods.’”
This post is part II of II of possibly the 2 most shallow and unthoughtful posts I’ve ever written and may or may not include a certain amount of sarcasm.
I have recently heard from several guys in Oakwood Hall that “Rob and Big” is one of the funniest shows to ever air. I watched portions of the MTV2 reality show both by myself and with others as well as on the TV and on YouTube. I have since concluded that “Rob and Big” is not funny. Rob is definitely not funny at all and the character Big is only mildly funny at best (meaning that I gave one small chuckle that was forced). I think that they are not funny because they are trying to be funny and they think that they are funny. Their attempt at humor is actually self-absorbed, terribly shallow (as is this post; see “disclaimer”), and forced. Things that are truly funny include:
1. The Office
2. Lee Yowell
3. Jerry Seinfeld
4. “So You Think You Can Dance?” tryouts