Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"A Post-Post-Evangelical Post" or "Dr. Seuss's Guide to Figuring It All Out"

I'm beginning to wonder if I am truly post-evangelical. I think I'm a post-evangelical, not a "Post-evangelical." The difference? I was reading Dave Tomlinson's book entitled The Post Evangelical, which originally coined the term in Christian culture. I'm not terribly comfortable with his extolling of post-evangelicals. I really feel like he is more anti-evangelical than post-evangelical, as he disparages bringing certain evangelical values into his pre-defined post-evangelical movement, which is contradictory to the openness that the post-evangelical movement is supposed to possess in order to help people at all points and in all experiences of their spiritual journey. He certainly doesn't make me feel welcome. He also doesn't really make many arguments from Scripture. He gives in to his tendency to set up straw men to knock them over and points his finger too often. It gets annoying.

However, he has some strong positive points that he makes and some very right criticisms of the evangelical movement. I got through the first ninety pages, though, and had to put it down. It felt it a waste of time to finish. However, I'd recommend borrowing it from a friend or a library and reading about that much before you put it down. It is a worth while look into how the church is changing. It also gave me another great way to describe a dimension of myself as a post-evangelical. He suggested "post-legalism" (i.e. most churches and Christians frown at the consumption of alcohol) and "post-fundamentalism" (which is more cultural and political than doctrinal or Christian) as a more accurate interpretation of post-evangelical. Like I said before, those explain dimensions of how I'm post-evangelical, but not the entire story.

A book I feel like every modern Christian should read is Western Theology, by Wes Seeliger. This post explains some of the themes of the book, but not all of it. It offended every single one of my sensibilities, but it affected me to such a degree that I can't even begin to explain. I didn't agree with everything that I read, but it made me think and want to "move out." You'll get that joke if you read the book. And you should. You REALLY should.

As I talked about before, I'm not quite sure what it means to be post-evangelical. Dave Tomlinson seems to think it means a fully post-modern faith. That is, truth is relative, experience is everything. I can't buy that. Post-modernism replaces objective truth with the statement "There is no such thing as objective truth." However, that statement in and of itself is intended as objective truth. So, I can't jump in wholesale after that. However, modernists and modern-evangelicals seem to have the motto "Objective truth is everything." I have seen it at every church I've been at since I was a small child. Everyone going to the church gives mental ascent to everything in the statement of faith, but no one is really involved in each other's lives. The Christian faith is a relational faith. Without that relational aspect, the faith feels dead and stagnant. We can all say "We believe in Jesus" until we're blue in the face, but if there is no love (and along with that, accountability, discipleship, care for those financially and emotionally struggling, mutual submission, sevantship) what does it really count for? Especially when Jesus said that if we love Him we'd follow (not allow to lie fallow) His commands. He said that we would be known by how we loved one another, not how big of a building and how many programs we ran at our church.

It re-affirms what I stated before. The only thing that matters to me anymore is the Apostle's Creed. I will fellowship with anyone who affirms that. Even Orthodox, who have their own slightly modified Apostle's Creed, would I worship and fellowship with. I'm convinced that nothing else matters enough to divide us.

The book I'm reading right now is A New Kind of Christian by Brian MacLaren. I think it is tackling well some areas I struggle with understanding about post-evangelical Christianity (like, how is post-evangelical different from "liberal Christianity") and helping me articulate some areas that I would like to address in my faith that the evangelical church wouldn't allow.

It is an exciting time for me as a follower of Jesus. I know not the journey's end, but I have the best Trail Boss, Scout and Buffalo Hunter than any pioneer could desire for a migration such as this. I am excited and selfishly fearful at the same time about where it will lead. I know that joy will be my companion, though, because my freedom in Christ is more of a blessing than I could ever hope to understand.


clumsy ox said...

I hate it when people use "post" to mean "anti".

The current post-modern fascination around us is actually a great opportunity, as people aer willing to allow their experience to influence them, rather than being coldly rationalist. So that a church which is geniuinely loving can have an impact, based on that alone.

On the other hand, to adopt the world's idea that there is no truth is hugely problematic. It is precisely because the Son of God came here: was objectively "made flesh" and came to live with us; that we can know God loves us. It is because He actually died (not "experienced death") that we can have eternal life.

Undercutting objective truth undercuts the faith, plain and simple.

But this hasn't surprised the Lord, of course.

Looney Mom said...

Huh? I'm going to admit that maybe I need a Theology for Dummies book. I know what I believe and it's all in the BOOK. I haven't labeled myself and I'm not sure if it will even matter. Ya know? I'm a simple gal and I have other things to concentrate on at the moment. You let me know when you get that all figured out and explain it to me in layman's terms, k?


Emma Sometimes said...

I'm with Looney Mom, I really don't find I need anything but my personal relationship with God and a Bible. It's my walk, I have to do it, although it's good to meet others going my way...God's way.

I think that labeling really stereotypes, don't you? But I think that was your point, yes?

Emma Sometimes said...

Have I asked too many questions, no?

Gwen said...

I don't know... the "no such thing as objective truth" thing gave me the willies. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding - but it seems to me that Christ is the Objective Truth, His character IS truth. One can experience that truth, but it is inherently objective, not experiential.

But I may be misunderstanding, as I'm a complete newbie to the post-evangelical thang.

Def. agree with your point that Christianity is, and must be, a relational faith.

R said...

This is Dear Sir's department. I will shut up.