Vernard Eller passed away on June 18. He was a minister in the church of the Brethren and a retired professor of philosophy and religion at the University of La Verne in California.
He was also a great thinker and writer who always raised interesting questions as he explored what it means to be a Christian today. He was probably most famous for "The Mad Morality", an exploration of the ten commandments as seen through the eyes of "Mad Magazine".
He knew how to raise interesting questions and understood in a profound way that life in God is a journey of discovery.
I remember him for writing "The Outward Bound: Caravaning as a Style of the Church". This short book transformed my way of understanding how we do church. He uses a series of contrasting pictures to describe what the church is and is not. For example, instead of thinking of the church as a "commissary" dispensing grace, truth and spirituality, he argues that the church is a "caravan" on its way to a destination, taking on newcomers, adapting to the needs of the journey, and looking after the needs of those in and out of the caravan.