EMERGE, a week long experience meant to inspire and encourage the Belmont Community in corporate and individual faith journeys, kicked off Monday with a convocation seminar with noted author/speaker Dr. Leonard Sweet. A professor and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at New Jersey’s Drew University, Sweet spoke on the topic “Being the Good News vs. Imposing Your Own Views.” His most recent book is The Gospel According to Starbucks.
Intended to challenge individuals to “Reflect, Refocus and Be Renewed,” EMERGE also featured sessions with doctoral fellow and author Tony Jones, national coordinator of the Emergent Village (www.emergentvillage.com). In discussing “Spiritual Practices for the 21st Century,” Jones noted that the Western/American church views the notion of “sin” as a list of rules and laws to be followed rather than the more traditional, orthodox perspective of sin as a chronic condition without an easy cure. “I think it’s a mistake for us to believe that some sort of radical conversion will cure a tendency toward sin. It doesn’t. There’s no magic pill.”
Jones argued that spiritual formation requires consistent exercise and discipline, in the same manner as training for an athletic event or music performance. “It takes repeated practice, over and over again. Look at the history of the church—our forefathers have developed patterns and rhythms in their lives to bring them closer to God.”
Jones is the author of Cultivating Authentic Community, Creating Holistic Connections, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life, The Most Difficult Journey You’ll Ever Make: The Pilgrim’s Progress and You Converted Me: The Confessions of St. Augustine.