Technical Update 1/15/2008: My Techno Husband, who uses a different browser, noticed that there was a code bleed through in my numbered list...I have corrected that problem. Sorry for any confusion!
[NOTE: During this series on CovenantClusters: The Vision Unfolds, it will be important that I keep Abi's Terms updated ... and that you acquaint yourself with what is over in the Scriptorium. There is a link to Abi's Terms in my sidebar, but I will try to be as link-friendly as I can!]
If you want to understand the vision for CovenantClusters, you will have to wrestle with my understanding of the term covenant (yup, it's the very first listing over in the Scriptorium). I have come to find out that there are way too many different thoughts floating out there concerning this word ... and if we are to effectively communicate here, I must help you understand what I mean when I use this word.
Unfortunately, many times it is most efficient to begin defining terms by explaining what you don't mean. Hmmm ... this is very much akin to a type of learning I have coined the phrase reverse mentoring to describe (yes, I just added it in the Scriptorium!) So here goes:
I have found that most people, when they hear the term covenant, think of Abraham and the covenant God made with him to bless the world through his countless descendants. While that's not a bad place to start, I find that too few separate the covenant God made with Abraham from the New Covenant God made with Jesus Christ as our representative. And this is a big deal to me, the separation of these covenants into old and new, or first and second, as some have been calling them. (First and second is too problematic for me, personally.)
I've spent enough time over at Jesus Creed and The Forgotten Ways (and other important blogs) to know that there are many who do not believe as I do about this. I am not particularly interested in rehashing that discussion over here. This is where folks come who want to understand what CovenantClusters is about....
So, we need to take a break here, friends....
One of Abi's basic rules of engagement for discussion is that we must be willing to listen fully to the other in order to be able to understand the view of the other. I usually phrase it like this:
- Consciously set aside your own presuppositions.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to all God’s truth.
- When you encounter an idea that raises a question in your mind, make a note of it right then, but don’t dwell on it. (Keep paper handy to record your notes and questions.
- Set aside your doubts long enough to try to understand what is actually intended.
- After you have read the entire section, including all references, go back and review your questions. Then, when you're ready to ask me your thoughtful questions, go for it!
Keep in mind that this exercise is not intended to stifle your questions or prevent lively discussion. On the contrary, the search for all of God’s truth requires lively, thoughtful, humble discussion – agreeable disagreement – among God’s people!
This means that you will need find time to go over the Scriptorium and read my entries about Covenant and cHesed (don't miss the link to the chart) ... including the link to Chris McKinney's site, which includes a lot of information from one of our important common sources of information: What the Bible Says About Covenant by Mont W. Smith. (Some of you will remember me mentioning Dr. Smith's passing last November.)
The vision of CovenantClusters is not about a group of people covenanting together to be or do anything new. It is about groups of Christ-followers who cluster together as local representatives of the Body of Christ -- what I call the Christian Hasidim -- faithfully living out the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, cut once-and-for-all on a Roman cross outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
Go with God.