Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Getting A Little More Personal


I have done a pretty poor job of keeping the current stream of thought going. This circumstance is partly due to my new job, which takes me out to places I have not seen for days at a time and then sends me home to indulge in the time I have with my family. I do have time on the road, like right now, when I sit in Starbucks all over the Southeast and check email, research for my thesis, keep up with blogs, and make attempts at adding new material to this blog.

I have decided to bring in some material that will express my circumstances a little more, and hopefully be of some interest to you. I will, of course, continue the discussions on the "Interrelational Church," but now it will be accompanied by pictures and bits of information concerning my travels. Maybe I can even learn a little more about ecclesiology in my business travels.

This first post will be followed by some pictures I took down in Jacksonville, FL and St. Simon's Island, GA. Please feel free to continue to comment on that which I post. I am a social individual and am not one of those who views his blog as a journal that might gratify one’s desire to talk to oneself. Thanks for visiting the site. This is one of the better ways I can share my life with so many friends that are spread across the United States. I have been blessed to have a selection of friends from many different states and backgrounds. I would love to hear from you all.

In Christ, Jason T. Glen

This is a landing on the St. John's River that I spent a day at. It conveniently had a Starbucks and a nice selection of restaurants. It was also down the road from First Baptist Jacksonville (Of Jerry Vines fame). Speaking of that church...they had a pretty extravagant security system there but I was amazingly able to make it into the inner sanctum after they had closed. What I found there is somewhat disturbing. In the new children's building I found a toy shop. I'm probably narrow minded, but do we really need toy shops in our children's ministry complex. I said that like we all have children's ministry complexes. They did have key card entry door on all children's building hallways, that was pretty responsible.

That little window of goodies included board games, card games, cars, action figures, and other "giggle" material. I'm pretty hip to the ages but... Come On! Is that really necessary?
On a positive note, I did get to see the sanctuary where my dad graduated from Luther Rice Seminary with his Doctorate. I think it was in 1980, which was the last time I had been to Florida before last week.
More of my trip to come!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Father sent the Spirit for Interrelational Purposes.

Well, I have certainly given us all ample time to do some research on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Interrelation process. I had just about enough time to find out that I would need a couple of years to do the subject justice. That being said I will try and highlight some passages and concepts that kept coming back to me as I read through the scriptures with Interrelation in mind. Let us begin in Acts.

We are confronted immediately in Acts with the desire that Jesus had for His people; to receive His gift to them as a community. The terminology of the individual is not found here. When Luke is explaining to Theophilus the history of the Body he is also explaining to him the nature of the Body. Luke points out the importance of the fact that Christ, after “gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised” (Acts 1:4).

Jesus certainly could have commanded the disciples to proceed on to strategic sociopolitical geographical areas, containing large populations of diverse people, in order that when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the disciples would already be placed in the most efficient places to rapidly disseminate the Gospel. But He did not choose that strategy. As we have already discussed numerous times in this blog, the Holy Trinity desired to propagate a holy Community of believers. Jesus had sent out special ops teams of two at a prior time in order to tell of His coming, but the sending of the Spirit would bring about a neo-orthodox way of proclaiming the kingdom. The people of Israel were to be that city on a hill that would draw men to worship the One True God, but it consistently strayed from its purpose. Jesus spoke to the disciples of the new witnessing community that would be empowered from on high and reach to the remotest parts of the world (Acts 1:6-8). With the indwelling guidance of the Spirit, this believing community, the Body of Christ, would succeed where the nation of Israel fell short.

What do you think? Do my statements above stretch the text to mean something other than intended? As you begin to interact with this introduction to the interrelational activities of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, I will continue to post passages in Acts that reveal this important understanding of the Spirit’s work among us.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Holy Spirit and the Interrelation of the Body

I wanted to use the last post's question concerning the authority and ability of various members of the Body as a stepping stone to a very important discussion on what role the Holy Spirit takes in interrelating the Body and where such knowledge might be found in the Scriptures. I am not yet fully ready to back up my view with specific Biblical passages so I will spend some time over the next several days seeking passages within the New Testament that refer to the Holy Spirit's involvement within the Body. Please join me in this research, if you have any time, so that we might have an informed and edifying discussion on how the Holy Spirit is involved in the Interrelational Church.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Interrelation between the Teacher and Student

I had an interesting discussion this weekend at a fellowship taking place at the house of an elder of the church we were visiting. It was a wonderful time that took place after the worship service; and which included the taking of the Lord’s Supper and the baptism of a new believer. It certainly looked more interrelational than anything that I have experienced within the last couple of years.

An interesting topic arose during the conversation that took place outside in this man’s back yard. I was trying to explain the idea of bringing more interrelation into the worship service format when one of the men asked a very poignant question. He asked something to the effect of, “Are you suggesting that it would be more likely that an interactive discussion taking place between a group of unlearned new believers and one seasoned believer would be more spiritually enlightening than a circumstance where the seasoned believer was lecturing the new believers on the meaning of a text?” I thought for a second and then assuredly answered, “Yes, I am saying that.” Then the man gave a seemingly logical critique. He wondered how it could be more edifying for the unlearned new believers to keep asking questions and critiquing what the Biblically seasoned believer had to say when all that would do is interrupt the wise expository interpretation that could be flowing from the elder’s lips. He brought up the fact that no truly wise counsel on the meaning of the Word could come from those who had not yet read and exposited it. The lack of knowledge of the new believers required that they submit to the lectures given by the Biblically sound teacher and only when well educated would they be able to sit as the instructor rather than the instructed.

Does this man raise a relevant question? Can the principle of interrelation make a difference in the worship service proper, or is it designated only to the realm of small groups and special workshops? Is there room for student to question the teacher? A more theologically ambiguous question might be: Can the new Christian who has not heard the Word offer any spiritual insight to the wise teacher who has studied the Word thoroughly? Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wow! Based on the conversation we have been having, defining the boundaries of believing in Jesus is not such an easy task. There is certainly a tension there; to be accurate about who Christ was historically and who He is in his deity, yet also to be flexible on less clear aspects of His recorded words and earthly activities. It is my opinion that we must certainly view the canonical Bible, in its original manuscripts, as inerrant and “God breathed,” “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” (1 Tim 3:16) But at the same time I must remember that the foundation itself is the issuer of the words and not the words themselves. Thus one can have a rational connection with a text and yet not have a personal relationship with its author. Surely it can be said that there have been many who have responded more faithfully to the letter of the law without actually having an intimate relationship with the author of the law, and that there have been those whose lives may have seemed less “Christian” but yet might have known the Savior on a deeper relational level.

It is my conclusion that the primary gage in discerning the actualization of an intimate relationship with Christ is found not in independent study of His Word, though that surely plays a part, but rather in the community of believers, the Body of Christ. I am not saying that it is always an easy thing, to find a faithful community of believers, but communities of believers must surely serve as a more accurate representation of godly living than the “lone ranger” who stands aloft amongst a sea of depravity. Now that we have discussed the fact that Christ is our foundation, let us again look to the scriptures for this view of Foundational Living as being most clearly understood in interrelational terms.

Recall again John 17:22-23: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

These verses suggest that there is a glory that can only be reflected in a unified community. Surely it is not just any unified community, but rather a community that is attached to the only divine foundation, Christ Jesus. The word “perfected” refers here to the proper representation of God. In order to be “perfected” in how we as individuals reflect the unified Trinity, we ourselves must be unified. We are called to be a “city on a hill”; not a house on a hill. Thus, if you find yourself alone on a “hill on which to die,” then chances are good that you are on the wrong hill.

Tell me what you think. Am I placing to much theological emphasis on my biblical observations of an interrelational dynamic, or am I leading us away from the solid foundation of individual spirituality? Am I placing to much emphasis on Christ's connection to written scripture, or have I violated the sufficiency of the Bible by suggesting that it must be interacted with among the Body in order to glean more certainly what the proper interpretation is?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

(picture courtesy of www.cpt.org)


Boundaries; Where are the Boundaries? It’s seams as if boundaries are all the talk of the media these days. Actually, one cannot speak of human life without speaking of boundaries. Even the Postmodern thinker must finally affirm that there are at least physical boundaries to human life and that those physical boundaries must necessarily effect how society views metaphysical boundaries. People like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault would speak of boundaries in terms of subjectively formed communities. They would suggest that what is important is that communities leave the boundaries open enough to allow new ideas to filter through and change the boundaries and the very nature of the community.

Nevertheless, we are not here to discuss how postmoderns view boundaries but how boundaries should be viewed in relation to the interrelational character of the Body of Christ. Brian McLaren takes a stab at boundaries for the Church in his latest book, The Secret Message of Jesus. Brian tries to define his idea of what the “Borders” of the church should be; “The kingdom of God, then, seeks a third way: not exclusiveness and rejection on the one hand, and not foolish, self-sabotaging inclusion of the other hand, but rather purposeful inclusion.” (pg. 167) This idea of “purposeful inclusion” is the central point of Brian’s ecclesiology. I will not break his whole argument down here but he certainly points out some relevant Biblical principles, while also overlooking some as well. Is Brian’s terminology of “purposeful inclusion” sufficient to faithfully explain the Biblical boundaries of the Body of Christ? Do we speak of two different things when we speak of inclusion in the Body of Christ and inclusion in the local church?

I would like to suggest that, at least when speaking of inclusion within the Body of Christ, the terminology of “conditional inclusion” is more faithful to Divine revelation than Brian’s “purposeful inclusion.” Purposeful inclusion sounds as if we are the ones controlling the inclusion rather than God. I think it is the Body’s obligation to image Christ in such a way that the boundaries and the gates are plainly portrayed to a watching world, a world desperately in need of discerning that they are on the wrong side of the Boundary and in need of seeing that there is but one Way through.

Where do you see the boundaries lying? Are we the gate keepers of a “purposeful inclusion” or are we ambassadors with a message of “conditional inclusion”?

Thursday, April 20, 2006


These are busy times during which I haven't the time to formulate the well thought out continuation of our conversation that I would like to. That being said, I will throw a bone out there to chew on. I am doing an independent study on Postmodernism and Christian Ethics. I have read much Derrida, Foucault, and Grenz of late and thus have had a chance to ponder some of the proposals they make about epistemology and ethics and such. I think that I can even tie this in to our discussion. We shall see.

I am currently reading Stanley Grenz’s A Primer on Postmodernism and I came upon an explanation that he gave of Michel Foucault’s views on knowledge and interpretation. He said, “Michel Foucault adds a moral twist to Derrida’s call. Foucault asserts that every interpretation of reality is an assertion of power. Because knowledge is always the result of the use of power, to name something is to exercise power and hence to do violence to what is named…. Foucault claims that every assertion of knowledge is an act of power.” (pg. 6) I want to disagree with Foucault here. I believe that although many certainly do use interpretations of experiences as a mechanism of manipulation at times, I also believe that many use those same interpretations, or observations of reality, as an invitation to another. Is that not ultimately what a statement of knowledge is; an invitation to share in the same experience, the same reality? When I name something, I am inviting others to share in that name. When I suggest a description of what some event looks like, I am inviting someone else to agree or disagree with me. I don’t believe that assertions of knowledge are inherently acts of power. I think more than anything they are calls for communication and reconciliation. Can these statements be powerful? You bet! But do they hold another completely captive to their assumptions? No. If they did, then all of God’s original assertions of knowledge to Adam would have been followed and we would not be in the predicament we are in. Rather, God’s assertion of truth to Adam was an invitation to share in the goodness that is present in fellowship with Him. Do I do a flower violence by calling it beautiful? Did God do violence to man by creating him and naming him? Names are invitations to interact, a starting place to discover more. Making a rule does not inherently do violence to another; it spurs the other on to discover why the rule was made.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Our statement of belief is an invitation to the lost man, to discover the sweet Lord that we have as our Savior.

I am not attempting to control you by discussing this matter, just trying to invite you to see what I have seen, to think what I have thought. Maybe, in our discussion, the Holy Spirit will help us see rightly; and help us communicate rightly about what we see.

Let me know what you think. Is this just the ramblings of a postmodernly fried brain?

More Interrelation to Come....

Friday, April 14, 2006

As we consider how our Lord died for our sins, and rose from the grave, let us remember that He died for all that might believe in Him. That he opened Himself, that all who hear and believe might enter Him and become a member of the interrelated Body of Christ. Let us remember that this day is not a day for the one, but a day for the many; many who bear the guilt, many who hear the gospel, many who are forgiven, and subsequently many who form the redeemed Body. Do not allow this weekend to “Passover” without considering one's responsibility to the Body.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I would like to redirect our conversation to a degree and explain why it is necessary to do so. This blog is a conversation about why and how the "Church" should be characterized by "interrelation." One thing that has come up over and over in our conversations is how this idea affects the individual. This question needs to be addressed because one can only grasp the concept of interrelation in as much as one understands the limits of individuality. Thus I would like to propose a conversation on what are Biblical limits of the individual. What rights does the Biblical individual have that the Body must recognize or else consequently transgress God's will? Are there any contemporary understandings of human rights that go beyond the rights that God says an individual has within the Body of Christ? Please interact with this line of thinking and let me know what you think. If we can all come within close proximity of each other in suggesting where the defense of the individual should end, then we can move forward more concretely in defining how the Body should be represented in the local congregation of believers. I would like to primarily see Biblical passages here. A philosophy from an ancient or contemporary Christian scholar can be referenced as long as it applies to a relevant passage of Scripture.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I believe the 1 John passage is a good passage to go back to in reference to the interrelation we are to have with other Christians. We have spoken a little about the difference between using our confrontation and subsequent interrelation with the Body as the starting point in the process of spiritual knowledge as apposed to the individual’s “enlightenment,” and subsequent decision to join like minded individuals. This idea, man’s autonomous ability to come to truth on his own, is what I am suggesting is a primary culprit in the “Church Invisible” losing its interrelational identity. Western Civilization, especially, has become so focused on the individual’s ability to objectively discern all truth for himself that the desire to submit one’s observations to the accountability of a larger community has become undesirable, if not suspect. Southern Baptists, of which I have traditionally been involved with, are some of the worst at pushing for the complete autonomy of every participant within the church system. The individual worshiper is autonomous in their spiritual life and thus can not effectively be held accountable. Each local church is touted as being autonomous and thus not inherently tied to the accountability of another church of like persuasion. Our associations consist of little more than websites for us to find our church listed and to organize an occasional softball league. With this bent toward individuality in mind, let’s look at an example in the Word where John is reaching out to the lost in order that they might be interrelated.

1 John 1:1-4
“1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” (NASB)

Do you notice all the “we”s involved in this passage? He is certainly talking from the perspective of a collective. And what is the purpose of this intro? Is it not to reveal to the ones in the dark that there consists a community of light within Jesus Christ that calls to them, that they might see and become a part of the “fellowship?” “You too may have fellowship with us: and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Where is the individual in this play of wills? Where is the autonomous self? “What was from the beginning” was revealed to a fallen, un-interrelated community so that a new interrelated community in Christ, The Body, might be inaugurated. Ever since the inauguration, our call to others has been “Join Us,” not “Join Me.”

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Divine Foundation of the interrelated Body.

What is the foundation that creates, supports, and drives an interrelational idea of church? I believe that a further explanation of a statement I made in the opening post will help guide such a conversation. I wrote, “So therefore, the Foundation on which we stand as an interrelated body, Christ Jesus, must be represented in a faithful way, a way that is faithful to His revelation of Himself.” It is assumed by all of Christianity that Christ Jesus is the Rock on which we stand. Yet, He is not only the foundation on which we stand, He is the image which we are to bear. This image bearing aspect assumes a particular makeup or structural representation. If this structure, the makeup of the Body, is to rightly represent Christ, it is important to at least have a general understanding of the relational quality of our Christ within the Trinity. To present this from the Biblical text I will focus first on various passages from John’s Gospel.

John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (NASB)

This verse forms the foundation of John’s Gospel as it should serve as the foundation of our understanding of the church. Christ’s personhood within the Trinity must serve as the basis for every tenet of our Faith.

John 1:14, 17-18“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

These scriptures bear at least two important tenets for our discussion. First, the Word (Christ Jesus) became one of us in order to explain the Godhead. The Father used the Word’s incarnation as the method of revealing Himself, Himself as three persons that make up One God. In John 14:9-10 Jesus states; “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” He showed us, in Christ, that there is interrelation within the Trinity that cooperates in all things for the sake of the will of the Father.

Secondly, within these three verses are two references to the cooperative characteristics of grace and truth. We will speak more of these later in our discussions but let it suffice now to suggest that “grace” and “truth” serve as the scriptural basis for the qualities of “openness” and “limit” within an interrelational understanding of the Body of Christ. If Christ is full of “grace” and “truth” (in order that He might explain the Father), and we are to represent Him properly, then we must also be characterized by both. Jesus’ words in John 5:30 further explain this quality; “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

The Father and Son are interrelated to an extent that is impossible for us to fully define and in such a way that we are inherently incapable of reproducing. But, we can represent the image of this relation by serving as an interrelated body. John reports Jesus as proposing this very concept on several occasions.

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

John 17:11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.”

John 17:22-23 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

We observe, even from these few passages, that Christ desires for us to live in unity not just for the sake of a peaceful existence among Christians but more importantly so that we might represent the relationship that the Son has with the Father. Although I do not agree with every bit of Stanley Grenz’ ethics, he still does a wonderful job in reminding readers that God has revealed Himself to us as a Holy Trinity and wants us to worship and reflect Him as such (See The Social God and Relational Self). Our view of the Body, and thus of the Church, should begin with our understanding of the Head of the Body, Christ Jesus, and the characteristics of His relationship with the Father and Spirit. Give me your thoughts on how viewing such a relationship as the foundation of our ecclesiastical structures might change the way we formulate our local congregations.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Before moving on into the Biblical passages that support the idea of the interrelation of the Body let us revisit why I am relating this to the emerging church movement. Those who have been in any conversation with the emerging church idea know that it can be characterized as a reactionary movement. Well, reactionary to what? Some would suggest that it is a reaction to the strict doctrinal creeds of some denominations. Others would suggest that it is a reaction to the watered down “Seeker Sensitive” churches that reach out to everyone but truly touch no one. Still others would say that the emerging church is a reaction to modernity and the Enlightenment’s sway upon the Church at large. All of these examples, and more, are legitimate reasons why another church movement is emerging among the Body. What I would like to point out is that all of these reasons, and probably many others, are inherently connected to the fact that the church is simply not functioning as a Body.

I have seen the brutality of a father in disciplining children that he has never taken time to build a relationship with but whom he expects to obey his every conscious and subconscious expectation. I have also seen the man who meets everyone and has “connections” all over, yet could not tell you an intimate detail of any one of his acquaintances. And we have all seen the man who is so driven by his independent reasoning and opinions on the world that he is oblivious to the importance of another’s point of view. These are all men who have not “interrelated” properly. They set their own agenda, make their own expectations, seek their own ends, and sink their own ship. As I suggested earlier, the church has long been the pulpit of such men, or rather, of such ideologies.

So it is my observation, as I have interacted with the Body, that the Emerging Church Movement is really seeking a community that looks and acts more like Christ. There might be some deviations of opinion about how exactly this should look but the foundational desire is a common one. If some individuals are looking for something other than that then all they are really looking for is another avenue to indulge the self, to lift up the idol of autonomy. In what way do you view the Emerging Church Movement? Do you simply desire to live with brothers and sisters in Christ in such a way that would do honor to His presence among us; that would image His presence within us? Do you desire to live an intentionally interrelated life within our Savior?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Welcome to the Interrelational Church blog. My desire is to communicate an ecclesiastical direction for those who are questioning the traditional structures of how “church” is done. There has been much talk about an “emerging” church over the past decade and I would like to offer some form to the emergence. I would like to name the emerging church.

Why the “Interrelational Church”? Why not the “Relational Church,” the “Community Church,” or even more relevant, the “Postmodern Church”? Why is the word “interrelational” so apropos to what a Biblical representation of the Church should look like? I believe that the term “interrelational” best describes how the Body of Christ should work. Some definitions of the word “interrelate” will help make the case:

encarta.msn.com defines “interrelate” as: “have or bring into a relationship: to have a relationship in which each person or thing depends on or is affected by the others, or cause persons or things to have such a relationship.”

wordreference.com defines “interrelation” as: “mutual or reciprocal relation or relatedness.”

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “interrelate” in a transitive sense as: “to bring into mutual relation,” and in an intransitive sense as: “to have mutual relationship.”

These definitions primarily suggest that the term “interrelate” refers to relationships that are mutually effective and cooperative. The Encarta definition is especially helpful in that it expounds on the fact that “interrelatedness” means dependence on the other; to be affected by the other. It is a “reciprocal relation,” as wordreference.com puts it. Leaving the “inter” out of the “relation” leaves the “mutual” aspect out and thus leaves the relationship up to the winds of individuality. That is what the “inter” is ultimately trying to deconstruct; the individuality that drives most relationships. The Church has long been the pulpit of the individual rather than the Image of Christ.

“Interrelational” is a descriptive term that reveals the reciprocal relationship that each individual has within the Body of Christ. One member of the body cannot move without affecting the rest of the body. There is diffĂ©rence, but it is a corresponding difference; one that works upon a common foundation that “inter”-locks those relating. The “Interraltional Church” is the name that we believe should be given to the emerging church. It represents community with a foundation; community with a common purpose. This purpose limits it and opens it up. It limits it in terms of ethical interaction with the world but yet opens it up to communicate with that same world, in hopes of drawing more individuals into the interrelated body of Christ. Yet the foundation must never, can never, be compromised in order to allow others in on their own terms. God does not make deals on the “other’s” terms. The Foundation of the Body can never point to “other” than Himself, because to do so would be idolatry. So therefore, the Foundation on which we stand as an interrelated body, Christ Jesus, must be represented in a faithful way, a way that is faithful to His revelation of Himself.

With this brief statement as a compass heading, let us begin to discuss church in terms of interrelation and cast visions together of how to best establish these Biblical concepts in local congregations of the Body of Christ.