Monday, April 09, 2007
Quickie Interview with Tony Jones
God for People Who Hate Church is coming up May 4-6. Tony Jones will be one of the voices here at the event, so I asked Tony a few questions. Here are the questions, and here are Tony's answers. Of course, since he's coming to Salem, I thought I'd senstize him with a question of a Witchy nature.
Phil Wyman: I've read numerous critiques about the evangelistic effectiveness of the Emergent Conversation. Critics have suggested that Emergent is either redefining, or perhaps even doing away with the Great Commission. What's up with Emergent and evangelism? or perhaps better put, what's up with Tony Jones and his ideas about the Great Commission?
Tony Jones: Well, I'm all about making disciples, and it seem to me that was Jesus' concern, too. And that is a way of life that Jesus called people into, not simply saying a prayer, led by a guy on TV. I've even baptized some folks in my day! What I do reject is arguments about "effectiveness" of evangelization and discipleship, since that's a modern value that has been superimposed on the gospel. The gospel is not effective, it's scandalous.
Phil Wyman: Here at The Gathering in Salem, Massachusetts, we are concerned with the reputation which "church" has developed in the eyes of those who stand on the outside looking in. We are also concerned about those who have been abused by the wrong practices of churches in the recent past. Do you have suggestions for bridging this divide of offenses?
Tony Jones: I think we're accountable to God for our local incarnation of the church. You are responsible for The Gathering, I'm responsible for Solomon's Porch. Just because someone gets E Coli at a Taco Bell in California doesn't mean that you never ea[r] at a Taco Bell again (although I question the sanity of people who eat there!) -- so folks shouldn't hold it against The Gathering because other idiots have ruined other churches. People who disparage your church because of the failings of others.
Phil Wyman: You just sat down in a cafe for a bite. Someone plunks themselves down next to you. You look up and see a large man in a black cape, with an oversized silver pentacle hanging around his neck. In striking up a conversation he numerates a long list of the evils of Christendom both recent, and historical. He finishes his diatribe, and looks at you. How do you respond?
Tony Jones: I guess I ask him where is the perfect religion and how can I join? Religion is our fallible, human attempt to articulate who God is and how we relate to God. Often, we suck at that, to be sure. But Christianity is also full of earnest saints who've done great good in God's name. I'll put our saints up against our sinners anyday.
Interested in being there May 4-6, and seeing Tony in person? Check out more about the seminar at the website for the The Gathering.