Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pioneer vs. Settler Theology

I came across this post on Scott McKnight's blog. It's a bit long, but I think worth reading and I would be VERY interested to get some feedback on what you think from those of you who have been commenting so far. I think I tend toward the Settler Theology model, but find myself longing (especially lately) for the pioneer model. I do have some reservations about the latter model, but that may be the settler in me rising up...

10 comments:

dwilson said...

Theological security is relative. The more I learn, the more I see the trajectories theology has taken in the last 2K years, the more I lean toward the pioneer model. The problem with the settler model is it assumes the danger is without. What happens when the banker and responsible citizens are injuns in responsible citizen clothing? The sin's in the courthouse, folks. Besides, don't the settlers always follow where the pioneers go? I must say, teh vision of the HS-buffalo-hunter freaking out the courthouse is pretty fuuunnny for all the wrong reasons. The line that "sin is wanting to turn back" really hit home -- lately I've been trying to work through some really basic Christian issues in my life. Like,uh, why do I do what I do? I've been sick of doing things simply b/c I've been told to for quite a while now. The real-life problem with the all-out, radical, only-when-I-desire-God-will-I-pursue-Him-philosophy is that desiring God can actually be pretty rare. I don't fear breaking the rules anymore, but I'm beginning to realize that I have few definitions of what progress or "turning back" are without those rules. For example, can I be "moving forward" into the frontier but not be having my devos daily???? How are we defining the Christian life then? What about people who didn't have a Bible to read, i.e., medieval church. How would we define the Christian life for them? Am I getting off the subject?...

Chris Bruno said...

I read McKnight's post, and my thoughts were mostly positive--we do need to be pioneering more than settling--but I think that the settler/pioneer contrast commits the old failure of the excluded middle fallacy. Either you are committted to theological and ecclesiological systems and therefore you see God as a mean ole mayor and the Holy Spirit as a prostitute OR you are on the cutting edge of life and theology and really experiencing God. I think there is a time to settle and a time to push into new territories. Before you push into the unexplored territory, however, it is good to your bearings.
The whole thing is an analogy and cannot be pushed to hard, but I think it may be a bit too simplistic.

Luther's Stein said...

I'm with Bruno here. I think the article definitely runs along the "either/or" a little too much. But, then again, its a pastoral piece and pastoral pieces tend to do this. At the very least it was a good analogy.

As I was reading it, it seemed to me that given the way the "settler" model was defined, that few would want to be a part of it. It appeared from some of the word choices ("He scares the hell out of the settlers" -- [Mihelis, did you or Dave Griffiths write this? Dave, if you see this, nice response to Superdoopertrooper]) that the author himself found more affinity with the "pioneer model."

NWMihelis said...

Analytically speaking, I see your point(s). When I was reading it I was thinking in terms of of false dilemma, rather than excluded middle, but excluded middle is a better wording. I think it's better wording because it leads me to ask "who has excluded the middle?" While agreeing regarding the author's biased presentation (though I would clarify that it is not only pastoral pieces that have such an either/or tendancy; I've seen a number of academic pieces that do the same thing)and that he may have excluded the middle, I'm more concerned about my tendency to exclude the middle. In other words, I find safety in the settler model and judge the pioneer model too risky. As a result, I "exclude the middle" and find myself in one of the extremes (which may have been what the author was intending to convey). Therefore, I find my analytical response in agreement with CRB and TRB, but my emotive response (for lack of a clearer term) to be more in line with what Wilson was saying (Analisa or David?).

If more of you read this post, I'd still love more feedback (as well from any who have already commented).

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