I am reminded again of God's wonder and grace and of the difficulty the church has in grasping these deep truths of God's nature and message as I watch and listen to the 2015-2016 American presidential elections play out across the media soundstages. My heart truly aches to hear the orcish, rascist division rising from the pulpits of these "self-proclaimed leaders" of the United States denouncing the rights and liberties granted each American citizen under the United States Constitution and its first 10 Amendments knows as the Bill of Rights as many of these candidates speak of walls, wars, division, and economic ruin.
But it is not simply the speakers of these words that amaze me but the ready acceptance of the American evangelical church and its fellowships which so readily accept so many unwise and ungracious words. To me, it is the church that stands at fault for not discerning the harm these politicians do to unbinding the many decades of hurt and destruction America has endured or shown to others, whether domestic or internationally. The postmodern 21st century should have learned by now that if we wish to be different from the history of the past that watchwords like "love, togetherness, coalitions, cooperation, listening, respect, thoughtfulness" should be readily on our lips, hearts, hands, and feet. If not, we are doomed to repeat the ills and harms of the past (and probably worse) which have been amply demonstrated by the many brigand bands of thugs, oppressors, and madmen, so far these first several years since the start of the millennium.
About five years ago I began writing of the changes going on within the secularized, modern evangelical church and during this time decided to create a blog site named Relevancy22 designating it as a place where I might critique both my self and the (fundamental or conservative) evangelical doctrines I had learned and held so dearly to me. In essence, I wished to help today's evangelical church to distinguish its movement away from the orthodox gospel of Christ. To do this I used feedback from evangelical organizations associated with the magazine "Christianity Today" listening to their attitudes and interpretations of the bible to provide to me apt examples of what Christianity should not be doing in messaging the gospel of Christ to the world's many cultural movements. And yet, sadly, this year's political results have shown the truth I and others had feared were occurring long years ago as poll after poll rolled out showing that evangelicalism's spirit of grace and mercy had subtly changed to one seeking political power and right (otherwise known as dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism).
After six months of critiquing my background and bringing my (yesteryear's) seminary education up-to-date from some 25 years ago (one which had been shelved while conducting ministries both within the church and community, raising a family, and building a consulting and technology business), I decided to changed my task to one of crafting from criticizing the church to a more positive message of what a progressive, postmodern church might look like. Why? Mostly because I could not find that needful prophetic voice in my evangelical community, nor among my local contacts. At the time it felt very absent and for me, personally, an extremely lonely time of being cut off from a progressive kindred fellowship (which now, looking back, was kinda there though well hidden and inaccessible).
So as I wrote, my purpose became one of trying to positively influence the evangelical doctrines I grew up with. And as I did I knew I would have to go beyond my fellowship's boundary lands by removing unbiblical dogmas and folklores (as example, those more commonly-held doctrines by the Reformed church which are held as biblically sanctioned - when in fact they are not). Instead, those church teachings had become shibboleths for evangelics to identify one another by (sic, labels we would self-righteously use to ironically warn brethren of "unbiblical" doctrine ahead and so, not listen to the prophetic voices God had raised up to cry in their own wildernesses of pain and passion. And yet, this latter result became a grave mistake in consequence for the evangelical church).
As such, this next effort took another three more dedicated years of 1) re-engaging with science in its various streams; 2) discerning conflicts and disconnects between religion and faith; 3) distinguishing the differing movements of process theology of which subset I chose the open and relational tone as its vernacular; 4) of replacing systematic studies of God with a more open and fluid narratival approach to the Indescribable One; and, most importantly, 5) examining what a new biblical hermeneutic must have in its DNA vs the popular literal (flat) reading-and-interpretation of the bible and Christ's gospel. I did this exhaustively - but not definitely - so that others may pick up these streams of thought and further my - and many other's - efforts, as they were able or interested to do so in their respective circumstances, disciplines, or personal passions.
My final effort was to 6) recreate a philosophical foundation for a progressive, postmodern, post-secular, post-Christian Orthodoxy utilizing elements of Continental Philosophy (as versus Western Analytical thought) and Radical Theology (which I learned is a much more philosophical discipline than it is a theological one). Unfortunately, this material is vast and deep, and will take more than a few years to sort out even as its own disciplines are evolving from script-to-script across a plethora of authors, thinkers, and ideologs.
However, the heart of my endeavor was to lift Jesus up, using Him as the interpretive center of the bible (both in the OT and NT) while sharing His love and service to humanity as our luminary guidepost to Spirit-filled empowerment of our Almighty God's missional gospel. To center all postmodern orthodoxy (teaching) on postmodern orthopraxy (living, doing) - meaning that, we hold a culturally relevant faith connected to the classical past but a living faith that is dynamic and open. One charged with strength in weakness by putting faith into practice. How? By exercising faith's works of serving, sacrificing, and loving all people whomever they are, wherever they are, and whatever they are doing. Knowing that God's church is culled from the remnants of humanity. Not from the self-proclaimed institutionalized church of bricks-and-mortar which seek power and influence on this earth, but from the unseen and hidden living church of God. And that we should never deny God's plain work regardless its source and blessing. Nor His wonders and grace. But to embrace all as brethren and sisters who stand against even our friends and family who might wave another allegiance than to Christ alone.
Peace and blessings,
March 18, 2016
*My apologies for my absence these several months but I have been gravely ill and am still struggling to recover to health. In addition, I had become overly active two years ago across local, country, regional, and state government lines working on all things related to land, water, open spaces, air, energy, and food. My chief antigonist has been an infection that came about through a massively invasive prosthetic surgery to correct a growing debilitation which I had been enduring for years. As consequence, I am now dealing with the pain and trouble this stubborn infection is causing me which has greatly disrupted my routines and responsibilities.