Renewing the Center by the late Stanley Grenz and Reclaiming the Center are recent books that have been blogged about quite a bit. I have not read either of them, so I will not comment on either of them. Rather, I use them to make a point since both are making refernce to the center.
It seems like the center is to theologians what the undecided voter is to politicians. "How can we appear to be their kind of people?"
I grew up in a conservative (I mean very conservative) church. We were so conservative that Baptists were liberal. Get my drift? Yet, even though we were so conservative, we were in the center. "Cults to the right and commies to the left - here I am stuck in the middle..."
Anyway, we were right and we had a justified claim of being in the middle - fair and balanced. ;-)
Now as an older person (age 35, not really that old) and reflecting upon the church of my youth, I see that we were no where near the middle. These people, these good people who loved God the best way they knew how, were far from the middle. They still are, which presents a problem for me - but that's for another blog.
My point is this: how many other groups are just like mine in that they have some claim to the center, but are light years from it? Or better yet, how many groups like mine feel compelled to say where the center is, once was, or now should be.
I think if we panned back at all of these Christian groups, what we would find is a doughnut, with a big fat nothing in the center. If you think about that for a minute, you get to feeling pretty naked pretty quick.
I have hope that many movements are centering, only from their many different locations. If that is true, then here is the irony: Two different groups doing the opposite thing (moving in the opposite direction) actually come closer to each other, depending on which part of the doughnut they are located. Now think about hundreds of groups located on hundreds of locations on the doughnut all moving toward the center, but having to do very different things to go to the same place. If you look at the movement too closely, it looks like chaos. But look from farthering away and it's some pretty fascinating choreography.
I think this apparently unorganized, disjointed, opposing, uncontrolled movment toward is the Kingdom of Heaven moving in awesome ways - toward the center.