A theology of "giving generatively"?
I attended tonight's "Soulstice" service with my so-far "thorough skimming" of Peter Rollins' "How (Not) to Speak of God" in mind. My concern in general around that book (and about the Emerging/Emergent Church, as much as I like to label anything) is the charge that they value conversation or dialog, not as a means to pursue understanding of the one real Truth, but as an end in-and-of itself because there's no one Truth to pursue.
Much more to be said on that another day.
But tonight's message was on "Gift" -- something of a pet topic of mine ever since it was the sole topic of my Theology 101 class my freshman year of college (in my pre-Christian days). Pastor Micah Witham's terminology is that we should give not merely "generously", but "generatively" -- that our giving should parallel the work of Jesus, which "generated things" -- new from old, life from death, etc. I like it.
Micah's metaphor is Ty Pennington's work in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where everything builds to the climactic end of Ty shouting "Move that bus!" to reveal a beautiful new home.
And I thought... What if the home were destroyed before its owners arrived? What if the need were felt, and hundreds of people pulled together in community to remodel and revitalize... and then the show ended with a demolition crew wiring the home to provide for a spectacular explosion as the credits rolled. (Sounds like a lot of Hollywood set construction, now that I think about it.)
What's the difference between the two outcomes? After all, the same "bonding" and "community" and "service" happens; why should that crew be distracted by the focus on the "goal" of creating a "product"? Shouldn't the focus be on each other during the "conversation"?
I think our natural reaction to that is, "Duh! No!" But why do we think that?
I think Micah is spot-on that "Jesus' work generates things." In fact, I realized during the message that the Biblical term is "fruits" -- we've all seen that mentioned frequently. I don't (yet) want to claim that the Emerging movement disagrees and says those things/fruits/results/goals are wrong... but, at this point, I'm wondering.