Slightly More Solid Church

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I am going to blog my Ph.D research from inception to hopeful completion. I start my supervision this week, and hope to complete in summer of 2013. I wonder what twists and turns it will take as I read, reflect, write, and (I hope) have your ongoing input and thoughts?

So putting them out here crudely like a new born baby that I hope you don’t think is too ugly, here are some thoughts in my journal this morning as I sketch out my initial focus.

1. Ecclesiological: I think my focus is leaning towards trying to articulate what ecclesiologies are appropriate for our post-modern/post-colonial/post-structural contexts in UK. I think I want to find a theological critique of culture and church with its implications for ecclesiological constructions. At it's crudest a paraphrase might be I am trying to find something counter to many of the 'liquid/fluid/post- church' thesis.

2. Deep Church: I think there is something in the deep church agenda/conversation which is positive and constructive and would help me avoid a pathological reaction/construction to many current ecclesiological suggestions. The deep ecclesiology, generous orthodoxy as background to my work is going to be helpful, and facilitate something constructive I hope. Deep church is not about articulating the correct form of church but the valuing of church in is deepest and broadest sense, from the most established to the most nascent. I know I want to avoid a post-church response.

3. Culture as religious system: I think at the heart of this I am trying to establish that or culture acts as a religious system, and that we need a critique of that culture, and a form of church much more solid, than many are suggesting to allow mission and conversion to take place. Almost the recovery of the congregation not as accommodation to modernity, but as a life rhythm to mission and an alternative to the religious formations and practices of consumer media culture (and I do not mean that as apologetic for a sunday service!).

The church has been dispersed historically under persecution, yet now is encouraged to de-gather under consumer choice. Our culture is unconsciously able to consume our new forms of church co-opting them as pastiche aesthetical experiences, whilst avoiding conversion Christianity as a way of life. Indeed many new forms of church are in danger of facilitating the ongoing process of de-conversion. If the critique was that church was a dispenser of religious goods and services, is it continuing that trajectory even further with many forms of church? What would an alternative look like? I've been trying to get a general overview of post-modern philosophy, hermeneutics, and historical theology as preparation, and my brain hurts.

So how’s that baby looking?