Resurgam for the church?

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As the American church finds herself amidst drastic cultural shifts, economic new realities and divergence in macr0-thinking about life and meaning, how will she respond?  Will she lament only about the “good ole days” where she dominated cultural creation and was referenced as a major player in civic life?  Will she continue her obsession with “end times” theologies of a kind of Platonic dualism where this world is wretched and the hope is to hunker down wait for Jesus to come back to their spiritual home in the by and by?  (I see this approach as blatantly fatalistic)   Or will she find courage to think differently, to be creative and find new ways to serve and care for her cities and neighborhoods?The American mega church (churches 2,000 or more) have been built on the foundation of the hyper-individualism in later modernism.  Choice, preference, comfort, convenience, professional specialists, digital environments and a savy eye towards both mass and niche marketing have contributed to their growth and perceived relevance.

“The church of the third millennium finds itself amidst a culture that has become ‘nothing but a meeting place of individual wills, each with its own set of attitudes and preferences and who understand that world solely as an arena for the achievement of their own satisfaction, who interpret reality as a series of opportunities for their enjoyment and for whom the last enemy is boredom.” – Veli-Matti Karkkainen An Introduction to Ecclesiology (p. 228)

I used to be a voice against all things mega, but I have softened quite a bit in that area.  There are questions I have, but there are also questions I have about my own church, and I’m the planter of it ;-).  I really don’t see a right or wrong in the “how” of church anymore, I am just seeking true ekklesia.  I believe ekklesia can be found in mega, traditional, rural, mainline, micro, simple, organic, house, multi-campus etc. , I also believe that unhealthy church can be found in these same modalities.   I believe now that church structure is neutral, it is the response of the people to Christ and his Spirit that bring meaning to the structure.  Take those elements away and you can find institutionalization in mega and unhealthy cults in micro communities.Recently I have been in conversation with Joe Boyd and Kevin Rains , two guys who I deeply respect their hearts for God and their hearts for our city.  Joe is leading an initiative with Vineyard Community Church here in Cincinnati, a mega church of 6,000 plus that has a solid reputation for being people who serve and care about others.  VCC is branching out believing that their future is as a harmonious structure of mega celebrations (6,000 plus), campus sites (100-300) and micro-communities (3-15 or so).  They see value in each structure and believe the way forward is not more of the same, but trying things differently.  I for one, applaud their efforts and am glad to be advising with them on the micro-communities.Resurgam is Latin for “I will rise again”.  I wonder, both to myself and out loud, is a marriage between mega-church and micr0-church a way for the American church to move forward and rise again within culture?  Not from above, but from below.  Where we are known not for our dogmas, but for our communal nature and search for meaning.  There are idealogical differences in the ways of thinking between micro and mega, but there is one Christ and one Spirit who forms the Church.  If we keep our focus on them, there is hope for a Resurgam within the American Church.  I’m in.peace,Marshall

Resurgam

Resurgam

Resurgam, latin for “I shall rise again”.  Questions on Unity and a new Diaspora Christianity.

Looking at an overview of the 2nd half of Veli-Matti Karkkainen’s An Introduction to Ecclesiology” yields some diverse perspectives that all seem to be pointing in a similar direction of Christian Unity, even amongst wide diversity.  It is evident that the author has a heart for broad ecumenism as a sign and a voice to the world that the Church is the earthly expression of the Kingdom of God.  The Biblical narrative speaks to the issue in the the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel where Jesus says:

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  (NIV)

This is the ideal, the agreed upon praxis is an entirely different story.  It appears that a relationally framed Christology is one of the ways forward that can bind together such varied theologies.  “The person of Jesus Christ, rather than a particular teaching about him, stands at the center of Christianity.  If so, then the church needs to become destandardized.” (per Vincent J. Donovan p.216)  How to express that Christology, how to embody that Christology, how to sacrament that Christology, how to worship the Christ of Nazareth are all debated.  Strikingly though, the varying perspectives seem to scream that Christology is central to ekklesia, and therefore central to our future in any form of ecumenism.  

Another striking similarity between the varyious voices was the interworking of the Spirit with the Christ to make the Church true ekklesia. The Spirit is the life of the church, it is through our pneumatology where our Christology is shaped and celebrated.  The Spirit ministers to our hearts and we share a communal connection with God the Father.  John Zizioulas from an Eastern Orthodox perspective wants to work towards “a proper synthesis between Christology and pneumatology as the basis for ecclesiology.  He rightly notes that the New Testament presents the mutuality of both rather than the priority of either one.” (p.98)  Later he also notes that a proper pneumatology will guard against an “overinstituionalization” of the church where it becomes hierarchical and centralized (p.100).  The Spirit of the Church matters in equality with the Christ of the Church, they are one.  

I found the final chapter on “The Post-Christian Church as ‘Another City’ ” to be really helpful for my ministry context and I resonated strongly with its assertions.  Why should we work towards ecumenism and Christian Unity?  Because ministry is really hard, the Church is really challenged in a postmodern context and frankly we need one another.  “The church no longer occupies the priveleged position it held in the past.  Indeed, its current social status more closely matches that of the early church than it does of any other time and place in history.” (222)  We aren’t playing home games anymore.  It’s not our stadium, we are not the hosts of all culture.  The crowd is hostile, we can’t assume they are ‘for us’.  I believe as this reality begins to play itself out more in practicalities of the future that it will create a time of grieving in the American church.  It will have some of the same tones as Israel and Judah in exile, a time for lament. 

My deeper questions of ecclesiology have been, what will ‘we’ do when this increasingly comes to pass?  Will we get over our lament, or will we stay there in self-pity?  Will we grieve with hope into an unknown future, or will we hunker down and hope for the eschaton in our fatality?  What if. . . we were to rise again?  What if church became “an altera civitas, another city”? (p. 223).  What if we got creative in our grief and courageously worked towards “the church as an alternate community ready to challenge prevailing assumptions about the way of life”? (p.223).  Is there another way forward, not one that is the product of the hyper-individualism of late modernism?

The church of the third millenium finds itself amidst a culture that has become “nothing but a meeting place for individual wills, each with its own set of attitudes and preferences and who understand that world solely as an arena for the achievement of their own satisfaction, who interpret reality as a series of opportunities for their enjoyment and for whom the last enemy is boredom.” (p. 228)

Will we move past our individualistic consumer models of church preference to becoming a communal people on the move in our diaspora where we aren’t entitled but are on sacrificial mission?  Will we move out, go viral, understand that our apologetic is our Kingdom life?  “The truth can never be distilled into an abstract system of thought but is rather found in the concrete form of life.” (p. 229)  This is the question I’ve been asking myself for the past 12 years or so in terms of my American context of ecclesiastical structures.  When the day of our diaspora fully comes, will we be ready to move out?  Will we be humble enough to learn from other cultures who have already been there and thrived there?  Will we remain rooted in our Christology and be reformed through the work of the Spirit amongst us?  Amidst suffering, displacement, oppression, accusations, poverty and great loss . . . will we rise again?  My sleeves are rolled up, I say let’s get to work.  Resurrection breathes inside of us.  Resurgam.

Working on Poverty

In a world of drastic inequalities in the distribution of wealth globally, what are some solutions?  How can we lower barriers to the global economy so that more people, even in poverty, can become fellow producers?  We need to be creatie to provide work.  This is where Capitalism can be a gnarly beast, because it only cares about its own ends.  Free enterprise on the other hand, is a revolutionary human concept that works organically in most any culture.  

The speakers points out the human big idea, that “work is not about income, it’s about dignity”.  There is more to poverty than money, there is spiritual poverty that robs you of self-worth.  Providing simple work can level the playing field and create a fair exchange where anyone, anywhere can have a seat at the round table.  This is the power of micro-financing and it’s real hope for the future of those working on poverty.   

Good Table Manners, Please

I was raised by my materal grandmother who grew up during the American depression.  Similar to her upbringing, we didn’t have much growing up in northeast Philadelphia.  It was a staunch Irish Catholic neighborhood, my family lineage goes way back in militant protestantism to Belfast and Scotland.  Things at times got rough, life was a struggle.  But one thing united us, a place where you didn’t talk about your differences, but you shared in your communality.  That was the table.  A shared meal lightened the mood and focused on our sameness, just sustenance.  At the shared meal, there was always a call for “good table manners. please”.  The table was not for fighting, it was for best practices of our humanity.  It was at the table where we were to be at our best.  Could this be a way forward for ecumenism?  If the Eucharist is agreed upon as an elevated ideal of our communion in Christ, could it be at the table where we (ecclesiastical structures) get along in primal agreements and cordiality?

Reading the first part of “An Introduction to Ecclesiology” by Veli-Matti Karkkainen allows me to get a broad scope of ecumenical perspectives and history in one place.  There certainly are a lot of differences in the roots of each tradition which have played themselves out in vastly differnt stories and contexts.  After summarizing six major ecclesiastical structures (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Free Churches, Pentecostal/Charismatic), Karkkainen turns his attention to the ecumenical movement.  How do you find common-ground amongst such radical diversity?  What symbols, beliefs, sacraments or traditions are elementary enough within all Christian ecclesiologies to facilitate a coming together in unity?  This is no easy task. 

“What complicates and challenges the ecumenical work is the fact that, understandably, Christians and churches introduce into the ecumenical movement their own specific understanding of the church and the kind of unity they find theologically and ecclesiastically correct.  Eccelsiology determines one’s view of ecumenism:  what one believes about the the church and its ecclesiality carries over into one’s approoach to the challenge of unity.”  (p. 81)

Our rooted theologies determine if we can come together at all in any productive or even symbolic way in the watching eyes of the world.  One of the areas of commonality as I read through the six major ecclesiastical structures was their practice of the eucharistic table.  Certainly some traditions elevate it in status over others, but all hold it as a best practice for the church.  Churches centered on the following of the Christ find that the table is the place where communion with him can be found.  In some traditions that is clothed in deep ritual, others with a kind of common comanionship and others in a mystical union.  “How” or “why” it is practiced is a debatable area, “that” it’s practiced is not arguable.  Can the focus on the Eucharist be a continual commonality to move forward in ecumenism?

Having practiced house churches for the past decade as my ecclesiastical structure, I have learned first hand the incredible power of the common meal to build community and harmony amongst all kinds of people.  Our house church gatherings start with a shared dinner, symbolizing that you bring something to community to share, it isn’t provided for all.  Whatever everyone brings is what the community eats.  The passing of the items symbolizes the peace given from one to another, it is a shared life.  The meal is filled with joy and laughter, of releasing the stresses of the common-life.  The conversations are other-centered, asking questions for shared stories and genuine attention to the details of our individual narratives.  Caring for each other’s children, making sure all have eaten and are satisfied.  The rule of community is to share so that there is enough for all, break that rule and there is not “koininia” fellowship.  After an hour or two of this shared meal, the transition to the family space is where the next table is exalted.  Our worship and Scripture reflection time starts with Eucharist.  The elements are present before the people gather.  They bring definition to our space, they bring meaning to our gathering of what is otherwise ordinary.  We use the same liturgy week to week, the rythymn of the sameness helps us be grounded in an otherwise manic world.  The table is exalted and allows us the experience of the grace that is community given by God.  These shared meals bring out the best in us.  Our focus is Christ, not our differences.  Our conversations are sprinkled with grace and mercy, even in sharp disagreement.  I think the table sets the tone and provides the framework needed for productive dialogue. 

Joseph H. Hellerman in his book “The Ancient Church as Family” describes the family nature of early Christian meals:

“in ancient Mediteranean society, mealtime was a highly charged affair affording much more than simply the opportunity to consume nourishment. . . . We assume, a close relationship between the kinship model adopted by Jesus and his practices at the table.  We are now prepared to appreciate the radically inclusive nature of Jesus’ table fellowship.”  (p. 85-86)

Jesus used the table to welcome and include others, even the unclean.  It was radical in a world of religious purity but it was definitively Jesus.  If we are all followers of that Jesus, can that not be a way forward in ecumenical unity?  Even in areas we sharply disagree, we can welcome each other at the table.  The forgiveness and grace found at the cross is present in the Eucharist, we all come low under that mercy. 

Let us come to the table, where the hope of the risen Christ meets us and makes us one.  But let’s not argue, keep in mind . . . good table maners, please.

 

Community Conferencing as Conflict Resolution

This is powerful social commentary from Social Innovation Fellow Lauren Abramson.  From the Poptech site, she is the founder of the Community Conferencing Center, she works to alter how society typically responds to crime and conflict — changing the focus from punishment to accountability, healing, and learning.

The premise behind their practice is to both humanize the conflicted parties and to give them ownership in the solution by forcing them to do it in community.  They gather the perpetrator(s), the vicim(s), the family and others that were affected by the event and then ask 3 key questions. 

  1. What happened?  – It’s hard for the offender to admitt to their deeds, remorse comes to surface, having to describe the crime in the presense of the victim and their loved ones is a powerful humanizing action.
  2. What effects were caused?  – Lauren states that by design it is emotional.  It uses the practices of speaking, listening and connecting.  Is there anything more primal or human than these 3 relational dynamics?
  3. How to make it better or prevent it from happening again?  – This is where all the parties involved create their own solution and then take ownership of it being carried out.  Different than a sentencing handed down, this is a shared covenant together and thus is not a “sentence” but a decision to make right.

Lauren closes with a haunting question:  “What kind of world do you want to live in?”  Isn’t that the question of questions for us???

I’m asking other questions after I watch this.

  • What are the root issues of violent crime?  How can they be prevented?
  • How do people change?  What factors go into ongoing transformation that works?
  • What is it about speaking, listening and connecting that changes the dynamics of violent events?  Is all violence preceded with dehumanization? 
  • What could this look like in my spiritual community?  How can I enact this kind of restoration in my immediate context?

I’m a full bore believer in the power of primitive community.  I’ve given my life to it.  It’s human, it’s primal, it’s basic, it’s life giving even in times of death, it’s beautiful even when things get ugly, it’s hopeful even in the midst of sorrow.  There is power in the circle, in looking at each other, in connecting, in humanizing.  Modern western culture is largely built on hierarchical structures of top-down power, believing that the order that is handed down will win the day and fix our social ills.  It largely doesn’t.  Our churches, our governments, our schools, our justice system is based on the hierarchical model of power handed down.  I’m interested in re-introducing the power of the circle in my community and culture.  I think it has a lot to say in the areas that we are socially sick.  What kind of world do I want to live in?  One that is deeply human.  Thanks, Lauren.

Community as Story

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I had a chance to attend the 3rd installment of Formed this past Saturday at Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship and the topic for this month was CommunityMark Van Steenwyk from Missio Dei in Minnieapolis was sharing his story of community with us.  There was a phrase he used as he was talking that just jumped out to me as both true and a bit painful.  He said in terms of our American living: 

“We stay in to watch and we go out to spend.” 

  I would have let this pass without a note if it wasn’t so true.  In that statement he adequately unveiled 2 of the greatest sicknesses of American life:  Consumerism and Individualism.     Our culture teaches us that the reasons you go out is to consume and to spend.  We spend on things that we hope will give us meaning, most of the time we remain unhappy.  The slick marketing campaigns of billion dollar businesses caress our ears with the message that if we buy what they are selling, we will find the happiness we are looking for.  Of course it’s a lie, but yet we have an engaging appetite to consume and try again.  It defines our “going out”.    When we stay in, we can tend to organize our lives, evenings and weekends around the tube or the telly (I like to call it telly).  The drama, the celebrity, the sport, the action . . . they are there to give us entertainiment in our leisure.  If we are not careful, they can become the very story we live our lives around.  And it’s unending, one season rolls into the next and rolls into sweeps week with cliff-hangers and to-be-continued til next season if only we will hold our breath in anticipation.  The media we watch at home can dictate to us how to arrange our time based on our consumption of their drama.  Years ago, I stopped watching the news.  Rather now, I read it online in print and have RSS feeds to local papers.  That way I’m informed, but I was tired of the news dictating to me what I should fear and what I should care about.  They don’t care about me nor my family, they just care about my viewership.   I say all of this not to prohibit spending or watching.  Both are a part of our culture that we live in and can be healthy alternatives to life as usual.  But they are not meaningful, if you are looking for life in things that are dead, you will find yourself perpetually empty.  I would suggest that the Story that gives meaning is authentic community.   Finding the definition of who you are not by what you buy or what you watch, but based on who you belong to.  When you find that kind of belonging, it’s permanent.  It doesn’t wane with sweeps week or spike during seasonal sales.  It remains true, constant, the kind of story you can build your life around.  How do you find that kind of community?  Our culture doesn’t sell it, our culture doesn’t produce it, I think it’s found in a spiritual quest.  Something that cries out much deeper in us than a yearning to consume or be entertained, it’s a primal search for meaning.     I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes in my reflections about Community as Story:

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ” Jane Howard

peace,Marshall

Evangelical Privacy

Continuing on in Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain , I was absolutely struck with the kind of transition the holiness movement had on the present day, almost fundamental aspect of the American brand of Evangelicalism. 

There was a time where the Evangelical movement absolutely dominated the real world of British culture, it was a public movement. Evangelicalism had been defined by public activism, public proclamation and the claiming of public space.   It was involved in culture-making, politics and the realities of civil life. 

“The hundred years or so before the First World War nevertheless deserve to be called the Evanglical century.” (p.149) . . . “But, at least for a while, Evangelicals had remoulded British society in their own image.”  (p. 150). 

The Holiness movement, in conjunction with a kind of romanticism ushered in something that was much more private, something more experiential between God and the individual. 

“The holiness movement ushered in a new phase in Evangelical history . . . It was a Romantic impulse, harmonising with the premillenialism and faith mission principle that had similar origins. . . . creating a common Christianity of experience.  . . There was created , it was said, ‘a new sect of undenominationalists’ . ” (p. 179)

There was a shift towards a more personal experience with God and away from a ritual, collective and public institution of church.  The focus was on the individual and romanticising the spiritual relationship with the divine.  Bebbington likened it to a kind of transcendentalism towards personal perfection.  How did that turn out, Bebbnington spells out the following:

“Secular society, and even the generality of torpid Christians, formed an alien and often hostile world.  The adherents of Keswick were turning in on a shared but private experience.  They were accepting that Evangelicalism, which had come so near to dominating the national culture at mid-century, was on the way to becoming an introverted subculture.”  (p. 180)

If there is a phrase that describes well the present state of American evangelicalism, it is that it’s an “introverted subculture.”  Church became a place for a personal experience religion and the contact with civic life reduced greatly.  There has been a culture war going on creating an epidemic of “us-them” thinking within the evangelical church and the outside world.  The world did not share it’s holiness precepts and therefore there was no longer a sought after shared culture.  What evolved over time in conjunction with the onset of rampant capitalism is the Christian ghetto in America.  They have their own music, movies, bookstores, phone books, breath mints, coffee houses, festivals, schools, television networks, children’s cartoons, flags, jewelry, toys, dietary plans, mugs, paintings, oven mitts, Christmas exterior illumination and their new “faith bands” to be the right alternative to the world’s “silly bands” (Family Christian bookstore online)

If ever they step outside the ghetto, their approach towards the acquisition of new converts follows a domination and militaristic theme.  They host “crusades”, they “target” certain demographics and they seek to “win” others for Christ.  Their language is not as one “of” the culture but as one who is “against” the culture.  The “Jesus and me” mentality has led to an inidividual religion with little involvement in contemporary culture with the exception of engaging in conflict of values.  They are most apparent in times of political elections where they leave their privacy with vehement passion to cast votes towards candidates that will lead them back to a kind of  mythological “glory days” period within American history for the pure evangelicals. 

After reading Bebbington and the roots of evangelicalism in Britain, it is hard to believe how it turned into something so different over time in America.  The hyper-individualism of the holiness movement stemming from romanticism seems to have played a major role in that difference.  I may still find myself in total agreement with Bebbgington’s quadrilateral of conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucientrism as I understand them.  As for the American form of evangelicalism that is largely fundamentalist, I want separation.  I don’t want a private religion, I’m not interested in a Chrstian ghetto.  I want an ekklesia that is present in the world and works in service to it for the sake of Christ. 

Evangelical Evolution

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“Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything.  You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree. “  ~Michael Crichton, Timeline

 

Evangelicalism dominates the American Christian landscape, particularly in an election season as we are now.  If you didn’t know better, you would think evangelicalism was something Americans invented, that is native only to them and their story.  For those of us who take on the label of “evangelical”, do we know what that means of where its roots come from?  For our George Fox DMin program, we are presently reading through “Evanglicalism in Modern Britain” by D.W. Bebbington, which outlines the origins and evolution of evangelicalism in Great Britain.  In particular, Bebbington shows the correlation of the shifting macr0-philosophies and ideas of the time and its direct effects on the movement, beliefs and practices of early evangelicalism.  Most notably the evolutions were influenced from the Enlightenment movement and its subsequent Romanticism. 

Bebbington is well known for his quadralateral of defining Evangelicalism utilizing four distinct categories:  (p. 3)

  1. Conversionism – the belief that lives need to be changed
  2. Activisim – the expression of the gospel in effort
  3. Biblicism – high regard for the Bible
  4. Crucicentrism – a stress on Christ and specifically the cross 

Conversionism

Emerging evangelicals wrestled with many questions regarding conversion.  One of the age-old questions the early evangelicals wrestled with was whether convervsion could sometimes be gradual, or was it always sudden? (p. 7).  If it was the main point and thrust of the fervor of churches to convert, how exactly does conversion happen?  What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Justification?  Is conversion permanent, or can it be lost or unchosen?  What is the relationship between conversion and baptism?  The answers to these questions differed a bit from the early evangelical camps, but all agreed that conversion was central to what it meant to be a Christian.

Activisim

Once converted, the evangelical ought to “desire the conversion of others. “(p. 10).  The rist of the Protestant work ethic to tirelessly labor on behalf of the gospel.  “Work has taken its place side by side with prayer . . . ” noted R.W. Dale (p.11).   Wesley’s expectation of a 90-100 hour work week eventually led to the worn-out ministers fund.  This seems similar to the first century where they felt that the eschaton was imminent, therefore they worked singularly focused.  Without this sense of immanency today, is workaholism in ministry really just a matter of self-importance and pride?  Is this a place the minister yet needs to surrender their false self to the One who’s ministry it really is? 

Biblicism

The Bible had an exalted role and was widely agreed upon as the inspired Word of God.  Later, in the height of Enlightenment and scientific inquiry, other terms such as inerrancy and infallibility would be questioned and debated.  Wesley contended that the Bible alone as the source of the doctrine of salvation (12).  Later he argued for a more balanced view where tradition, rational thinking and experience would be elements of the source of belief, but the Bible remained in an exalted role.  I wonder in the scope of the emerging church today, with its focus in postmodern philosophy, how much of Biblicism is remaining in their deconstruction of assumed truths?  This is one of my largest concerns for the emerging church that I think has a lot good to say, but without Biblicism held high, to what extent will it be insufficient human understanding?

Crucientrism

The belief of the sacrificial atonement of Christ for sinful mankind (p.15) was what they believed distinguished them from other seemingly Christian belief systems like Deism (14).  They believed the cross to be a cross for all, yet most still held onto a kind of “moderate Calvinism” (17) with God as the agent of conversion.  What a crucial question for evangelicals today with the modern understanding of evangelism taking a lesser role in evangelical Chrstianity, realizing it is not just about static statements of belief, but the process is much more gradual than just all of the time sudden.  Is gratitude for the cross the only means for fueling sactification, or does the belief in a resurrection of the whole earth within eschatology speak into the restoration of our hearts?  The cross is crucial, but it is not the only point.  A Resurrection of hope and a coming Kingdom  informs us all the more. 

Other questions from history:

  • Wesley consistently resisted calls of separation from the Church of England? (28)  What does this say to the emerging church today?  What does this say to communities like my own that do no have the same institutional arrangement of the established church but want to be a part of the larger Body?  I think Wesley would tell leaders like myself to seek institutional marriages between micro and mega and I would agree.
  • We see how the Enlightenment had an effect on evangelical theology in Britain in changing views of Human Understanding (Locke and Edwards), is the same thing happening with postmodernism and the effect of emerging church movements around the world?  “The effect of the Enlightenment on the churches was undoubtedly to liberalize thought.” (51)  Is the effects of postmodern philosophy within the emerging church having the same effect on evangelicalism today with an intention to liberalize it?

  • Optimism and entire sanctification where believers may progress to a state which they are free from all known sin. (60) Did this dream of progress survive WWI & WWII?  Did the problems of evil that came directly with the world wars dismantle this kind of optimism about humanity that was born in Romanticism?  Did this shift eventually lead to the birth of postmodernity, a harsh reaction against the ideals of modernity steeped in the optism and utopian ideals of the Enlightenment?

I look forward to more learning of ths evolution, particularly how it was influenced in its trip across the pond to give birth and voice to the new American Evangelicalism where I find myself today.