April 1, 2012
The Folly of Writing Scripture: #letters2afuturechurch
It seems appropriate that we here at Strangely Dim would pick April Fool's Day to begin writing letters to a future church. Only a fool would undertake a letter-writing campaign modeled after the work of the apostles of the first-century, right? John the Revelator, for example, wrote seven letters from his exile on the Isle of Patmos, so there's ample precedent for our project. But then again, John saw Jesus with his eyes, and touched Jesus with his hands; meanwhile, who are we?
And yet the idea of taking up pen or pixel and the apostolic task is an intriguing exercise. What would you write, given the chance, to set the table for future fellowship? What convictions have you cultivated in your own discipleship, what lessons learned, that warrant bequeathing them to a future generation? As Annie Dillard put it in The Writing Life, "What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?"
John's letters from exile inspired the 2010 Eighth Letter conference, where people from all walks of life and levels of notoriety picked up where John left off and wrote to people of faith who will come after them. The Epiphaneia Network, who convened that conference, went on to collect several of those letters (along with some new ones) into the book Letters to a Future Church, recently published in our Likewise line. Such an undertaking shows moxie, and we respect moxie. So we thought we'd honor their effort by trying our own hands at it.
Over the next few weeks we'll be drafting our letters and posting them here, for your enjoyment and response. We hope you will respond, and if the muse strikes you to draft your own letters, we hope you'll share them with us by posting your links in our comments. If you're so inclined, you can even tweet links to our letters and yours with the hashtag #letters2afuturechurch. If nothing else, tweets and hashtags will remind us that we're not actually writing Scripture or anything crazy like that. It's been done: John's letters--not to mention Peter's, James's, Paul's and whoever wrote Hebrews--have served the church well over millennia, and they don't need any supplementing from us. But that doesn't invalidate our campaign; it simply puts our effort in a proper context. Who knows, after all, how God might use our words, our letters, to transform his church for the sake of the world he loves?
I guess we'll find out.