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241On finding like minded Xtians: to Stephen Shields

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  • jbarnhilliii
    Feb 9, 2002
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      Stephen,
      I recently read some of your earlier messages to Matt Knox, from
      2000, particularly message 29.

      I think I have a very similar background to you. I did a BA in
      psychology in 1990, influenced then by Larry Crabb, and
      evangelicalism. I went to Fuller Seminary from 90-95, completing an
      MDiv in Pastoral Care and Counseling, the irony being that given my
      paradigm shifts from modernity to post-modern thinking, I wasn't sure
      how sensical it was for me to attempt pastoring when I wasn't sure
      myself how to deal with major issues: hell, good/evil, epistomology,
      interpretation of scripture, trinity, relativism, and ethics. I
      ended up going into social work and now teach children with emotional
      disorders.

      My problem: though wading through important books that have helped
      me out (here's a partial list that will help you know who has
      influenced me; Stanley Hauerwas, James McClendon (huge influence),
      Nancey Murphy, Rodney Clapp, Alysdair McIntyre, I CANT KEEP ALL OF
      THIS STUFF ON THE BRAIN! It is sufficiently difficult to incoporate
      this kind of thinking into one's daily practices given its
      complexity, but it is ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT GIVEN THE FACT THAT ALMOST
      EVERY CHURCH I'VE BEEN TO IS STILL FIRMLY WITHIN THE GRIPS OF MODERN
      THINKING.

      Hence, this major dilemma. Neo's conjecturing with Dan about how one
      might take a church into the postmodern era, forgive me, seems like a
      pipe dream. Or is it? If we are truly living at the very beginning
      of a new postmodern era, then 99.9% of churches would seem to be
      still living with modern thinking. So it seems to me that apart from
      a website like this, there are not very many places a spiritual
      schizophrenic like me can go for nurture. Going to a small group
      within an evangelical church feels like going to an intellectual
      torture session. All of the thinking I've tried to rework comes
      rushing back to the door and it hurts. I don't think I can
      adequately defend my own paradigm shift without being so frustrated.
      The upshot: it feels pretty lonely to be a postmodern Christian both
      because it is hard to define to yourself and others exactly what you
      believe, and because there are so few places/churches to go that can
      help.

      I've gone through this for over 15 years. I'm a patient person.
      Reply whenever you get the chance.

      Jim Barnhill
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