One of my most cherished memories from my time pastoring a church in Michigan is the Pastors' Theology Roundtable. The Roundtable was a group of pastors who got together every couple of months to debate doctrine in a safe environment. All of us had various beliefs that were off the beaten track that, given the rather restrictive nature of our denomination, were unable to be openly discussed in our churches. The Roundtable gave us the opportunity to present our ideas and to hash them out together. We rarely agreed, but came to love one another deeply and to value our time together.
The Roundtable affirmed to me that clear theological debate can take place without the name-calling and condemnation that characterizes so much of the Church today. And it has me wondering ... could we recreate the Roundtable here? Could the Grenz counter the blogosphere culture by being a place where people can pursue truth without sacrificing grace?
Admittedly, the flap over my review of Rob Bell's Love Wins gives me pause. But I believe in us. I am hopeful.
So ... here is what is going to happen.
I have written a paper entitled The Glorious Kingdom: mystery and generosity that I am going to circulate to a couple of pastor friends of mine. I am hoping that they will write a response, poking holes in my arguments and pointing out my blind spots. Then, I am going to post all of them - my paper and the responses to it - here on the Grenz.
I know that this is going to be lengthy. My paper is over 3,000 words, and that's without any responses. But I think it and the responses may be able to do two things: 1) help to dial back the vitriol so common in theological discussion today by demonstrating how to disagree with grace, and 2) further the discussion we are now having about hell and universalism. You can read and think and decide for yourself. And, more importantly, you can enter the discussion.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy for hoping to turn the Grenz into a Theology Roundtable? Do you want a seat at the table?