Developing Doctrine through Practice

I have been reading some stuff around Christian doctrine recently and a few things have come to mind. Firstly that when thinking about the historical context of Christianity that an important start point to remember is that “All Christian doctrine arises from Christian experience”(Richardson). This is important as it validates the praxis approach to mission and ecclesiology (the theology of church). It also gives space for developing doctrine and possibly theology in and out of the current context or experience.
Another Richardson quote that caught my attention was “the earliest doctrinal statements were thus missionary apologectic, not intellectual systems of theological speculation”. As well as reinforcing the above points I feel it raises some interesting points and questions for the emerging church scene.
The Wickeds video I have raised in earlier blogs (mainly in december) some concerns about the lack of theology of the emerging church with particular reference not to the practice of emerging church(as there is some good stuff around), but to the thinking about the concept of church. The conversations that are happening are great but more often than not concern what we do rather than what we are. Although it could be argued that the development of the label emerging church from Alternative worship has been part of the effort to understand what we are.
As you will be aware my startpoint is mission and therefore the theological startpoint is missiology, this has led me over the years to a new ecclesiology, and yet I always feel on the edge. I think Richardson helps me understand why I feel on the edge so much in this place, and the reason is that current doctrine has become detached from the “missionary apologetic” and is far dryer than it should be. It is almost as if there is a sense that we have arrived at a conclusion of doctrine, and yes it is okay to talk about contextualising this, and being creative but lacks allowing true praxis to take place where real growth, movement, and creativity can happen. As I write I feel like there is a tendency to treat missiology and the emerging ecclesiology like a bonsai tree. The roots (theology and doctrine) are set allowing the tree (mission) to grow to only a certain size or odd shape. When the tree does put on a spurt of growth and develops a new root, that root all too often cut back, whilst at the same time not necessary cutting back the growth because that is seen as good. I wonder will we become too top heavy with not enough roots to sustain us.

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