According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Peter Enns - evangelicalism: the best version of Christianity (or not)

by Peter Enns
May 12, 2014

In recent months, in various venues, I have seen the following claim made or implied, in one form or another: evangelicalism is the best iteration of Christianity because it is most faithful to the Bible and most in line with the history of the church.

Several observations:
  1. All Christian traditions say that.
  2. To gain credibility this claim would need to be made with at least Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians in the room.
  3. This triumphalist claim is consistent with evangelicalism’s polemical roots and history.
  4. The claim marginalizes, if not ignores, the tremendous theological diversity in historic Christianity as well as in the church today (synchronic and diachronic diversity).
  5. The claim assumes that this diversity is a problem with God.
  6. Related to 4 and 5, the claim assumes something of the Bible, namely that it presents one detailed yet coherent spiritual narrative that can be teased out, systematized, and defended.
  7. Not all evangelicals are comfortable with this rhetoric.

Rather than asserting the dominance of the evangelical narrative with such a reaching claim, I would rather see a defense of evangelicalism’s validity mounted along the following lines:

  • Evangelicalism is our spiritual home and we value it. So we want to see how best we can maintain, respect, and nurture this community of faith.
  • But we make no pretense whatsoever at embodying the best of the Christian tradition. Rather, we seek to be a good and faithful expression of Scripture and the Great Christian Tradition in our time and place.
  • We, therefore, seek peace and collaboration with other Christians. We feel we can contribute to the larger conversation among Christians as well as learn from other traditions, keeping an open mind and heart to where corrections and changes are needed, but also seeking to circumscribe our faith in some meaningful way that maintains our identity.

For my tastes, a statement like that would be a refreshing, conciliatory, and even attractive way of defending evangelical borders rather than the all-or-nothing game public evangelicalism is known for, which often collapses into a defensive posture that only serves to build higher walls of isolation.

What would be lost if evangelicalism’s public figures adopted such a posture? Some would say evangelicalism itself.

What would be gained? Some would say needed adaptations of evangelicalism to insure its survival.

I’m sure some of you have opinions on this.

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