What is Tony Jones All About?

Here are a few resources to help you understand what Tony Jones of Emergent is “all about.”

Phil 1:10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;”

Tony Jones is in the process of getting a Ph.D.in practical theology at Princeton Theological seminary. Previously, he was the Minister to Youth & Young Adults at the Colonial Church of Edina in Minnesota, the church where he grew up. Educated at Dartmouth College and Fuller Seminary, Tony is the author of Postmodern Youth Ministry (YS/Zondervan, 2001), Soul Shaper (YS/Zondervan, 2003), Read, Think, Pray, Live (NavPress, 2003) and Pray (NavPress, 2003). As well as the Emergent Leadership Team, he is a contributing editor for Youthworker, on the Emergent/YS/Zondervan editorial board, and on the Faith as a Way of Life national working group at Yale Divinity School.

Tony Jones on doctrinal divsions

…It becomes an obsession — guarding the borders. That is simply not the ministry of Jesus. It wasn’t the ministry of Paul or Peter. It started to become the ministry of the early Church, and it abated somewhat in the Middle Ages and blew back to life in the time of modernity. For the short duration of time that I have on this planet to do my best to partner with God and build His kingdom, I don’t want to spend it guarding borders. I’d like to spend it inviting people into the kingdom. Statements of faith don’t do they. They’re a modernistic endeavor that I’m not the least bit interested in.

PBS Story on the Emergent movement.

Tony Jones, author of Soul Shaper:

“The first time I introduced this, the kids came in, and I had a candle going and a little incense burning and some Gregorian chant music on the CD player.”

What Is Tony Jones Doing
To Teach Youth?

* Reads only Bible versions that have no chapter or verse numbers, such as The Message.

*Reinvigorates the process of catechism.

*Quite a big fan of lectio divina* Does more and more ancient practices for corporate spirituality. *Stations of the Cross is one we’ve used several times.

This is what “ancient practices” links to:

In the mid-seventies three monks wanted to bring contemplative prayer to Christianity. This is how they did it.»

“They invited to the abbey ecumenically oriented Catholic theologians, an Eastern Zen master, Joshu Roshi Sasaki, who offered week long retreats on Buddhist meditation, and a former Trappist, Paul Marechal, who taught transcendental meditation. The interaction between these Christian monks and practitioners of Eastern meditation helped distill the practice of Christian contemplative prayer into a form that could be easily practiced by a diverse array of “non-monastic” believers: priests, nuns, brothers and lay men and women.” by Joseph G. Sandman (America Magazine 9/9/00)

Zondervan, about Tony Jones’ Soul Shaper:

If you’re unprepared for a book that makes faith come alive in practice, that makes past come alive in the present–and offers these gifts only if you’re willing to spend significant time learning about the church’s powerful, active spiritual heritage (and your place in it), then put this book down now.

Still with us? Good! Because we really don’t want you to miss this book.

Soul Shaper is hands-down the most comprehensive primer on the study and use of spiritual and contemplative practices for the benefit of your teenagers–and especially your own soul.

Inside, author Tony Jones gives wings to his critically acclaimed debut, Postmodern Youth Ministry, by lucidly explaining how you can put postmodern ideas to work by learning powerful disciplines such as–

Sacred Reading The Jesus Prayer The Ignatian Examen The Daily Office Stations of the Cross Sabbath Silence and Solitude Centering Prayer Spiritual Direction The Labyrinth Pilgrimage Service

…and eventually implement them into the life of your youth ministry!

But Jones cautions us all: “These are not gimmicks. This isn’t an Ideas book or a discussion starter book or a great-games-for-over-50-kids-in-a-gym book. This is a strange book. Although it’s about spiritual exercises and their application in the practice of youth ministry, please practice them before you implement them! You won’t come close to learning everything you need to know after reading this book. In fact, you may be a few years from utilizing any of these practices in your youth ministry. But if you find one or two that you incorporate into your rule of life, I’m quite sure that you–and the students God has put into your care–will be eternally changed as a result.”

Complete with unparalleled instruction, deep and rich resources, and a look into Jones’ research, travels, and personal journals as he bathed in the serene light of contemplative Christian spirituality, Soul Shaper is your next best step on the postmodern path.

Emergent and Youth Specialties:

It was only a week after and with no knowledge of that call that Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties flew to Minneapolis and met with Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, and me to talk about books and conventions. What Marko offered was basically a platform, the very thing that had been lost when the relationship with Leadership Network dried up. Marko came as a friend of the nascent Emergent — that is, he has theological and cultural symathies with what we’re up to — and also as a businessman. Marrying those two aspects of himself, he said this would give Emergent a chance to get the message out through books and conferences, and we said yes.

Now at least the conference aspect of that partnership with YS is ending. But in so many ways, Emergent is no longer in need of a platform. Brian is now among the “25 most influential Evangelical leaders in the U.S.” and is selling truckloads of books. Others are getting lots of requests for book deals and conference speaking, and lots of organizations are waiting in the queue to help Emergent with events and publishing.

5 thoughts on “What is Tony Jones All About?”

  1. I do see some very disturbing things about what Tony Jones has to say here – especially concerning the defense of doctrine. I would like to see some further discussion on the difference between contemplative meditation and Biblical meditation. In my undergrad one of my teachers had us practice Lectio Devina (please note, this school was decidedly not Fundamental or Baptistic). I believe that our “Lectio Devinas” were much simpler than that practiced by the monks, it did have contemplative elements which could perhaps be compared to eastern meditation. At the time, I found them to be beneficial in meditating on scripture. However, the danger in dabbling in eastern meditation can be seen in the life of Thomas Merton, who turned from Catholicism to Buddhism near the end of his life. (By the way Matt, I think I would like to do a post on TM some time. He seems to be quoted alot by those of this ilk.) These dangers should be enough to make us steer clear of this. This cross over of eastern religion and Christianity is both deceptive and dangerous. However, with the busyness of today’s world and the distraction-prone modern mind, would there be any place for contemplative spirituality? Is there anything within the framework of Biblical meditation that is somewhat akin to spiritual contemplation? Is it not true that the puritans were contemplative thinkers?

  2. In my Emergent studies in the past, I’ve always found it ironic that they always blast modern Christianity for the subtle corruptions of modernism, the Enlightenment, capitalism, etc., but they consistently suggest a Christianity that is more pagan than “early church.” For all their analysis of Enlightenment theology, have they ever studied the roots of the Constantinian practices they embrace? This is either intentional ignorance or a not-so-subtle agenda.After a society eliminates truth, it almost inevitably digresses to a cultured paganism. This was clear in Ancient Greece and now is probably what is happening in America. Visit any bookstore and count the number of sacred feminine, mystical, and eastern philosophy books. I have personally wondered (and I am not alone) if it would better to say that the Emergent church represents a post-postmodern era (i.e. cultured paganism) rather than a postmodern church. The seeker-sensitive movement is probably a truer (is that a word?) representation of postmodern Christianity. I’ll try to substantiate it later, but now it’sout there for your dissection.

  3. “In my Emergent studies in the past, I’ve always found it ironic that they always blast modern Christianity for the subtle corruptions of modernism, the Enlightenment, capitalism, etc.,”I’ve been wondering too recently if they read modernism into many things that are not. Infallible trust in reason is a quality of modernism, but if it is a quality of the church, truly, it’s subtle. “After a society eliminates truth, it almost inevitably digresses to a cultured paganism.”Funny, David Wells was talking about the same thing this morning in his book Above All Earthly Powers. I’d recommend it. “I have personally wondered (and I am not alone) if it would better to say that the Emergent church represents a post-postmodern era (i.e. cultured paganism) rather than a postmodern church.”Is there any sort of consensus as to what post-postmodernism would be? I’ve heard several differing opinions. It seems so hard to be post post-modern because post-modern is so ill defined.

  4. First of all, I think that no matter what title it is given, society is different than it was fifty years ago. We all agree on that. Second, I am happy to see people actively addressing the differences rather simply shouting “The sky is falling.” Solomon wrote something like this in Ecclesiastes: “Do not say, ‘The former days were better.'” Too many Christians are paralyzed by the fear of bus-programs, sunday school, tent revivals, all the marks of a “healthy” church soon being obsolete. Didn’t you say that change is too often wrongly synonmous with deterioration? Good stuff.As for post-postmodernism, I would agree with Wells, Veith, and Jim Grier (I think) who think of it as more of a “paganistic” society. It embraces mystery and is leery of scientific claims. Just look at the health industry. Holistic and natural health services are huge! 1 out of 3 Americans regularly use alternative medicine.Postmodernism was brief and ill-defined, so I may be off my rocker.

  5. David Wells just came to the part where he discusses what the Seeker Sensitive Church is doing. One quote:”Many in the new seeker-sensitive experiment in “doing church” have seen only the surface habits of this postmodern world and have not really understood its Eros spirituality.” Theirs is an experiment in tactics in which innumerable questions have been asked about the ways the Church can become successful in this culture and they are all prefaced by the word how.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: