I recently had the chance to read and review Colors of God: Conversations About Being the Church by Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen & Randall Peters – a book that was originally published in 2008 and recently republished. The authors are part of the neXus community in British Columbia. The book is set up as a dialogue between the authors (representing the voice of a pastor, a scholar, and a therapist) and explores the theology and practice of ministry through four colors: blue (theology), green (healthy living), red (community), and yellow (culture). The authors are part of the continuing conversation in the emerging/Emergent church dialogue, and readers familiar with the ideas in this conversation will find similar themes deconstructed and reconstructed in this book.
While I did not naturally distinguish between the voices of the author as I read, I appreciated the attempt to match the medium with the message by the structured conversation. The parables of Jesus are highlighted throughout the book, and the authors rely heavily on theologian Robert Farrar Capon for understanding and interpreting these parables for the life of the church. After reading Colors, I picked up a book by Capon and would encourage anyone interested in the theological framework undergirding Colors to read Capon, as his work is hugely important for understanding the perspective of Colors. Few will find themselves agreeing with all of the theology presented in this book, as it represents a blend of liberal Episcopalian/mainline, evangelical, and Emergent mixed together in the cultural milieu of Canada.
While the authors express their desire to be “for something” rather than “against other things,” I did find that a prevailing theme was the failure of traditional Western evangelicalism. There certainly is some hopeful and positive movement offered by the book, but the conversation primarily was defined negatively and reactionary. Overall, I found the book stretching (in good ways) and was challenged to think through some of the basic assumptions about theology and practice made in the wider church (and in my own ministry).