Dan Kimball: Missional Theology
I like Dan Kimball. And it’s not just because he grew up in Jersey, or because he’s a faithful pomomusings reader (although those are both great reasons for why I should like him). I like Dan Kimball because he loves people. He just does. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with him knows that he loves God and loves people. Period. I was blessed to be able to spend an evening with him at the last Emergent convention in Nashville – he just called me up and said he wanted to hear some of my story. That’s the kind of guy he is. Which I guess is why I get so frustrated when people write absolute crap about Dan.
At any rate, I liked Dan’s chapter. He spoke of theology, openness to new ideas and re-formulations of our theologies, but while still holding on to historic, creedal faith, specifically the Nicene Creed. Dan is a self-proclaimed conservative evangelical – yet he is the kind of conservative evangelical I love to hang around with. He’s alright saying “I don’t know” – he has a real genuine humility about his beliefs and doesn’t hold onto them too tightly.
Yet, he’s also a deeply theological person and has high aspirations for the people of his church. He writes:
“So, we see our church as being students of the Scriptures. We then use the word ‘theologians’ … as everyone being a serious student of Scripture and deep in thinking about theology together…We constantly keep the definition of theologian in our teaching and what we give out to people, as well as try to develop a culture of the church becoming ‘theologians’…” (103-104).
I appreciate this notion of encouraging everyone to “become theologians.” As one who has been around the seminary crowd for the past 3 years, I sometimes run into the idea that theology should only be done by those who have been trained in it. That those who know the ancient languages, have studied the church fathers – they are the ones who can really do theology. That is just bull. Theology is for everyone – and that is something that Dan and his church are working out. All in all, I loved Dan’s chapter, and this was one of my favorite quotes:
“I do, however, wish that worship songwriters would choose to write more songs that focus on the character of God and teachings of Jesus and what we should be like in this life, in addition to the thousands and thousands of songs about the cross and the substitutionary atonement. If we only view worship through the atonement, we don’t focus Jesus’ teaching on this life and on being a kingdom-minded disciple” (100-101).
Amen. I can’t say that any better than Dan has. I generally really like the musical style of modern worship stuff, but the content and lyrics of so many of the songs are uncreative at best, and do seem to only focus on Jesus and me, and the death and cross of Jesus. It’d be great to hear some kingdom songs…