I had the privilege of meeting renowned scholar and church theologian, Bishop Larry Newineskin, while on vacation a few years back. His contributions to theology leave many scratching and shaking their heads as his insight is both daftly astute and prophetic. His candor about all streams of theological thought have made his quotes memorable. He currently makes rounds yearly speaking at one or two conferences and he calls Bingo at his local community hall. I mention the Bishop because he has much to say about things missional and the emerging church, the predominant focus of this blog. So without further adieu, I present to you a brief introduction to Bishop Newineskin as well as an interview I conducted with him during our last visit.
The Bishop Dr Larry Newineskin is from Vagueville, England, somewhere between York and Bath. He is an esoteric dilettante, minoring in major topics and currently finds himself as an ordained minster and bishop of the great church of Engerland. He has been on numerous short term mission trips to different parts of London, and abroad. On his longest missional journey of three weeks to Scotland back in 1984, the Bishop, upon his return, realised profound changes to western culture and began musing about how the church might be a faithful witness to the emerging culture. His great question; "What is the Church?" has spawned many a discussion that led to published articles, that led to published books, that led to quotes, and that finally led to his name being found in numerous bibliographies. Bishop Larry Newineskin is both a scholar and a gentleman and is very famous.
JS: Bishop Newineskin, what are you’re thoughts about the Church?
BLN: I love the church, She pays me and supports me. I work for her and she calls me clergy. I hatch, match and dispatch people on their way through life. She’s the hope of the world.
JS: Cool. You get payed to play Church?
BLN: Yes. it’s fun
JS: Tell me what you’re thinking through theologically these days.
BLN: Wow, good question. My thoughts are deep, somehow too deep to recall at times. All I know is that the church is declining in the UK and abroad and that God is up to something mischievous these days in the post modern world. So…to answer your question…I am thinking a lot about premillenial eschatology, you know, rapture stuff and the cessational-type things some churches believe.
JS: You believe in the rapture and cessational-type things?
No, I don’t. My thought about the rapture is that I hope it will happen soon so its adherents will finally be taken out of mainstream theological thought….it really is messing things up. I wish it would just cease. Hey, I just said cease. it’s kind of like cessationalism…they think spiritual gifts have ceased and we wish they would cease…neat.
JS: That was neat, Bishop. What are your thoughts about the emerging church?
BLN: The emerging church? That is sooo yesterday. What’s next?
JS: You mean the emerging church is already passé?
BLN: Yes, passé. You see, our times are rapidly changing and the world is going round faster than we think. Before this sentence is complete, there will be need of a new wineskin somewhere. But let me say that the church is always emerging. And let me say one more thing. We need to be good readers of our culture. Oh, and one more thing. I don’t like how so many are reacting to the de-propositionalizing of our faith.
JS: De-propositionalizing Bishop?
BLN: Yes, de-propositionalizing. You see, many have constructed the gospel in a scientific and propositional way…like there are truths about God that exist is some vacuum as spiritual laws or something. That is akin to trying to map an outline for how to fall in love with a girl. It is not a scientific process, but a mysterious one that can’t be controlled or packaged into a neat little product to be sold for a tithe at the local megachurch that people drive across town to get to. So the de-propositionalizing of faith is a good thing…I just don’t like how people are trying to take the mystery out of the gospel by reducing it to simple ideas or propositions.
JS: Wow, that was a loaded paragraph.
BLN: Yes it was loaded, wasn’t it.
JS: Care to explain further?
BLN: No, not really.
JS: How do you feel about reformed theology?
BLN: You mean Calvinism? I love Calvinists, they have genuine and wonderfully modern adherents. I once had a reformer try and convince me to see Jesus and faith her way. At the end of our conversation I was convinced of her adherence to the scientific method of rationalism and argumentation. It was the first time that I had someone take God’s love letter to us (the Bible) and change it into some scientific document about how to go to heaven, how science is wrong, how the world was created, and how it was going to end. It was weird. She might as well have charged me and run me through with a sword, crusade style.
JS: What do you think the gospel is?
BLN: It’s not about me going to some disembodied heaven to float on some cloud after I die. It’s about God and how he is about healing all of creation through Christ the Victor; even sick kittens and puppies. It’s about the reconciliation of this good creation under Jesus as King and that reign has already begun with the climax of history in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus at Clavry. Now in these end times with the release of God’s Holy Spirit, Heaven and earth are interlocking and it’s the Church that is the instrument of God, called to be the community of new humanity and participate in God’s great project of healing.
JS: That is different to much of mainstream understanding of the Gospel and end times.
BLN: Yes it is…that is why i wish they would get raptured.
JS: What are your thoughts about ecclesiology?
BLN: I think every church should have one.
JS: I see. Thank you for your time. It was nice chatting with you.
BLN: It was nice to chat with you too.