ZB: The topic of the “emergent church” can get pretty heated. Have you stayed above the fray?
TK: I probably haven’t stayed above the fray, inasmuch as I wrote a book containing the words “Why I’m Not…” in the title. However, I think I’ve stayed above the day-to-day fray in that I refuse to tango with people on the blogosphere. I’m convinced that much of that scene is a waste of time…it makes me sad. There are lots of keyboard warriors and wounded, armchair theologians acting tough behind their screen names on both sides of the aisle. That’s why I stick mostly to football, music and movies on my blog. I also try to delete any comments that aren’t explicitly fawning or complimentary…
ZB: Tell my readers about your new book, Why We Love the Church.
TK: After we wrote the Emergent book, we realized that there were a ton of spiritual journey – “I left my church and found God” books on the shelves. Donald Miller’s literary offspring are all over Christian publishing. The Barna stuff was getting huge – and people were considering it “revolutionary” to “have church” at a Starbucks or on a golf course. It’s never been cooler to hate on the church, and to (quoting a million bumper stickers here), “love Jesus but not the church.” That said, we wanted to write a book that would serve as an encouragement to our generation to love the church. Kevin tackles this, again, from a theological perspective, and I hit the cultural elements, interviews, etc.
ZB: A common slogan for church signs lately is, “It’s not about religion; it’s about relationship.” Respond to that.
TK: I think that’s bogus. It is about religion. When Paul was confronted with the altar to the unknown God, he didn’t respond with: “Hey, mystery, that’s great! You have an unknown God…I have an unknown God…let’s do life together and be authentic in our uncertainty.” He preached. He implored Timothy to preach, and to guard the good deposit. I love relationships as much as the next guy, but I also love the gospel and think that if it was important enough for Paul to endure beatings and imprisonment for, it’s something I can and should take a stand on myself. In that same Acts passage, Paul ended with (v. 31) “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
ZB: The church has been sliding toward a market-based “please the sinner and make him comfortable” mentality for almost a generation, in an attempt to restore waning interest in things spiritual. Do you think institution, hierarchy, and organized religion are “the problem?” If not, then what is?
TK: In a broad sense sin nature is, of course, The Problem…but I think there are major problems in this demographic marketing model as well. Twenty years ago George Barna said we needed bright lights and stadium seating…now he says we need to do church in your living room, and we need candles, darkness and “mystery.” That’s not to disparage Barna, it’s just to say that if we base the way we “do church” around trends or affinities, those trends and affinities will almost certainly change. My co-author always says, “What you win them with, is what you win them to.” I hope we’re winning people with a humble, earnest, loving presentation of the gospel as our only means of salvation.
ZB: What book do you dream of some day publishing?
TK: That’s easy, my new novel The Purloined Heart: A Romantic, Historical, Postmodern Christian Novel. This is going to blow minds, Zach (see also: cockiness). Note: Any Christian publishing mavens who happen to be reading Zach’s blog can contact my agent, Andrew Wolgemuth at the Wolgemuth & Associates office. Let the bidding war begin!
ZB: What is the most important thing you learned about yourself while playing pro football?
TK: That I truly love playing football…my teammates, the feel of the pads, running out of the tunnel, the turf underfoot, etc. There’s nothing like it. And I loved being able to share that with my wife and son. I think when I’m 85 years old, I’ll roll out of bed in the fall and think to myself, “I wish I could play football today.”
Football is also a great antidote to the kind of exhausting, never-ending “dialogue” about postmodernism, the church, etc. I turned to football whenever I felt like I needed to be around real people. That is, people who have never heard of Rob Bell, Donald Miller, John Piper or Ted Kluck. It’s refreshing in that regard.
ZB: …while training as a pro wrestler?
TK: That I don’t like pro wrestling anymore…and for an activity that involves grown men jumping around in tights, there’s a lot of grim determination and very little whimsy. But I really like my friends Vandermolen, Jarmo, and JR, who did the wrestling stuff with me, and helped me start my promotion, The Literary Wrestling Alliance (LWA) for one show only. I realized that my true talent as a wrestler lies in my ability to pick perfect ring walk music and design sweet t-shirts.
ZB: …while interacting with the emergent church?
TK: That I have Bono fatigue. I also learned that if I’m not talking about the emergent church a year from now…and if people aren’t really talking about it five years from now, it will be good for everybody. This thing will jump the shark soon.
ZB: …while researching the institutional church?
TK: That reformed people have their own obnoxious, idiosyncratic cultural blind spots, just like emergents and liberals, and that sometimes these reformed cultural quirks can grate on my last nerve. But I still love the theology, and I love my church. I still believe the church to be the bride of Christ, and in spite of her shortcomings, will love her because as Kevin wrote in WWLTC, she is a body with Christ as her head. This is comforting and inspiring. It frees us to not have to be cool and chase trends in order to put people in the seats.
ZB: And finally, if you were to fight Gary Busey for fifteen rounds in an Octagon-style mixed martial arts setting, what would be your strategy? What would be the outcome?
TK: I would first fill the Octagon with drugs and food…and then just turn Busey loose on himself for the first eleven rounds or so, and then, just as his demons are about to overtake him I would witness to Busey in round twelve. Busey would think about it for a couple of rounds, before becoming a Christian in round fourteen. In round fifteen I’d beat his ۻۼۼ.