I just returned from the Ontario Vineyard Days conference. Daniel Schuster (Calgary) was our keynote speaker - well if you can call it that, cause what happened was way more awesome than some speaker sharing something they found important. Daniel helped lead us through some significant heart work as a region. It was amazing. I came away with renewed hope for our churches, I know a lot of them have been struggling for a long time. But what really got me was I was completely unaware of how much my own heart had been tied up in all that went down in the 90s (that's when the Airport Vineyard was asked to leave). I have done a lot of reflecting on that time, trying to understand what happened. But it really wasn't about understanding, it was about what that did to our hearts. I think what God was doing this past weekend makes it possible for us to find a new center in our identity and I'm extremely hopeful that we'll follow God in this unfolding work of absolute grace. My friend Ahren (Ottawa Valley Vineyard) put it well in our last session - it isn't about having a response at the end of our service - indeed no response is adequate to this - but it is about letting it bug us cause burying it (what we've been doing) hasn't worked.
During the gathering I got to present a Thoughtworks workshop on the theology of grace. Actually I was doing two things: 1) demonstrating how important theology is to us as God's people - you do it anyway, wouldn't it be better to do it well? and 2) showing how working within a methodological framework opens up meaning we might not otherwise see. I used Ventor's proposed threefold approach: Bible, Tradition (and history), and Holy Spirit. I looked at grace three ways drawing us to a richer understanding than the truncated Reformed position that is primarily about personal salvation. Not that the truncated understanding is wrong - it just is not the whole story.
My big concern was if anyone would come to a workshop on theology like that - especially so many other cool options (I really wanted to go to the worship workshops). But I had a pretty big group and they were engaged. Maybe we are asking the right questions after all. I was encouraged. I know that despite Wimber's commitment to lifelong learning, continuing education is not always the easiest sell in our churches. Not the kind of learning that I think is needed - there is always a market for pop psychology and simple teachings. But those things are not adequate to the challenges of our time. One of my biggest passions is that we've created a form of Christianity that can't bear academic inquiry because it is based on weak methods and a lack of trust in the experience of God. In fact lots of Christians have an experience with rhetoric and not an experience with God - so their trust can't bear any kind of challenge to their truth claims. We really need to reclaim an academic excellence that comes out of our quest to understand the faith that our experience of God evokes.
I skipped the AAR. I wanted to go tonight to a session on the origins of Pentecostal identity in Canada. Would have been great. But I needed a day to rest. Tomorrow I'm back at studies, my big exam is on the 18th. If you are the praying type, I can use all the encouragement I can get.