In the this week’s TNT Tripp and I field letters from listeners. The fourth letter was unique in that it was:church-300x199

  1. snail mail
  2. by a person outside the christian faith
  3. lengthy
  4. illuminated a key difference between Tripp and myself.

Starting around the 50th minute, the topic of resurrection highlights a slight different in focus between the two of us.

In the episode I explain that while a venn diagram of Tripp and I would show a 90% overlap, the important place of variation comes in our relationship to ‘al’.

Tripp is a big fan of ‘the’: the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the mission.

I appreciate (and treasure) the reality of those seminal events – but I have no interest in arguing about them or contending for their historicity.

My interest is in the outworking of those concepts. The church is inherently incarnation-al. I want to see new life break forth and the rupturous power of resurrection lived out. Mission-al thinking leads us to participate in our communities differently.

I would even make a case for Biblic-al or Radic-al themes that have surfaced on Homebrewed over the past two years. I might even be able to make a case for institution-al and attraction-al models of church under the right circumstances.

This difference might also help explain why Tripp is in Philosophic and I am in Practical theology. 

Tripp ends by saying that if ‘the’ leaves the room and all we are left with is ‘al’ then we have a problem. There would be no reality behind what we were attempting to incarnate or enact.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

I would contend that it is less problematic than the inverse of that duality!  If we contend for ‘the’ like fundamentalists and have no concern for ‘al’ (incarnational, missional, etc.) then our tradition is dead. We have nothing to offer the world but propositions.

Clearly this is not an either-or situation … but the contrast does help illuminate a topic that seems to plague the church in every generation.

I hope that you will take note when you listen to that 10 minute segment of the episode. I would love to hear your feedback.