Reflections on Catalyst 2009

I just got back from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta; it was my first time attending the live event, though I’ve watched DVDs from the past 2 years. I thought I’d throw out a few reflections from the event.

  1. The Justification Wars Are Hot. Though speakers from different perspectives were there, any anticipated public denouncing or “zingers” didn’t occur. What didhappen, however were a few decidedly public shots into the debate on justification, most typically represented by NT Wright and John Piper. One speaker, in the middle of a talk about something else, decided to clarify the definition of the gospel as the appropriating of the righteousness of Jesus to cover our sins (this to many shouts of approval from the crowd). Note: curiously, this same speaker immediately used — as an example of this gospel — the story of Peter converting Cornelius in Acts 10:31-43 in which Peter never references the “atoning blood of Jesus”.

  2. Resurrection Isn’t So Hot. In all the talks, there was very little discussion of the mind-blowing event of resurrection. People are still more intrigued by Jesus’ death than they are the inauguration of the new age.
  3. Please Stop Shouting At Me. Nothing personal, but by the middle of the second day I really just wanted the music to be turned down, and wanted a speaker to whisper the love and beauty of God over me. We (those?) evangelicals really like it loud and pumping, both their music and their teaching. Curiously, never in two days did 12,000 leaders pray, read scripture, or recite a creed in one voice. We could hear each other sing, but I sat thinking how powerful it would be to recite the Lord’s Prayer, or the Nicene Creed, or a prayer of confession.

There were other, more personal revelations, but I think that from an observational standpoint, those were my takeaways.



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