The ‘Crowder conversation’ continue to invite reflection from many perspectives – including mine, but it shall have to wait (tomorrow, hopefully!). My fellow Raleigh house church communard shares his thoughts ‘In Defense of the Spirit.’ The past year has been a spiritual renaissance for him, Micah says, being exposed to solid biblical scholarship and emerging churches and like-hearted authors…
“A couple of weeks ago my friend Mike Morrell started quite the conversation about John Crowder and his jehovah-juana toking, Godka drinking ways. I had the privilege of contributing to that dialog. Having had time to digest the things said and my responses, I wanted to write a clarification of my position on the Spirit. In my initial response I wrote of my concerns over hyper-spirituality and neglecting the missional nature of God’s Kingdom. I want to play “devil’s” advocate here, and defend John Crowder and his commitment to experiencing the Spirit of God, and assert that marginalizing the Spirit robs the Kingdom of it’s power and leaves “the body” in a diminished state.
In the last year, as I’ve been moving away from an exclusively spirit-focused faith, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve read some Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, N.T. Wright, Walter Wink, Walter Breuggemann, and Brian McLaren as well as a few others. In this re-education I’ve been exposed to so many new ideas and I can only say that my Lord has gotten so. much. bigger. I like to say that my Christ-view has shifted. Some of the new ideas that have been floating around in my head:
The Humanity of Jesus (not taking away from the Divinity of Jesus, but I’d never really considered this aspect until recently)
The Power of the Resurrection (vs. “going to heaven”)
God’s Alternative Community
The Spirituality of All Thngs
God’s reconciliation with all things, in heaven and on earth
New Monasticism, care for the poor
Knowing God in every thing
The Myth of Redemptive Violence
The Integral Worldview
There are many more, but I already write such long posts… Any how, I have all of these new, great, and powerful ideas floating around within me, but in this presentation of the Gospel of the Kingdom I can’t help but notice a gaping hole. Where is the spirit? It isn’t as if these folks don’t believe in the Spirit, or that s/he/it (who know’s?) is never mentioned, but I only seem to find it in passing, or mentioned in such an abstracted context that there seems to be no method of approach or interaction with this very real facet, or hypostatsis of God. I’ve been to a couple of emerging churches and new monastic communities. I’ve enjoyed authentic people who love Jesus and are pursuing his Kingdom. I’ve admired the community, participated in group expressions of our experience(i.e. art projects), fed the hungry, taken communion and heard words of encouragement and good news. But still, I’ve wondered… where is the spirit?
So, I commend John Crowder for being an advocate for intimate experience with God via the spirit. I commend him for seeking real expression of the power of God in undeniable and supernatural ways. I think I was pretty hard on him in my earlier post (though, I stand by my critique), and simply want to clarify that I’m a big fan of the Holy Spirit. Initially, I was pretty uncomfortable with Crowder’s methods and I don’t see myself tokin’ away (except, perhaps in jest). At the same time I find it all kind of hilarious, and perhaps that’s the point.
This is not an accusation, but a recitation of my own experience. I’m not saying that emergers don’t have the spirit, but they seem to rarely talk about it. I also know that the spirit within is kind of like a muscle.. lack of use can cause atrophy. For proof of this, check out your local Southern Baptist church on Sunday. (Hardy har har) I think the spirit is a pivotal expression of God’s power to transform and a tangible link to our Lord Jesus Christ. If we flatly reject these things because “they’re not real” or we find them “intellectually untenable” … well isn’t that a holdover from the (gasp!holycrap!ohthehorror!theagony!) modern worldview? The worldview that tries to explain away spirituality, god, and the intangible with science, observation and an absolutism that says “We know how things work.. that just can’t be true.. they were just superstitious.
Also, if you know of any good emerging literature that does speak on this seemingly neglected topic, please let me know.”