Monday, March 19, 2007

What the Church may Become. I hope.

Read this first.

This is the buzz. Scott McKnight also hints of "post-evangelicalism." I don't think the fallout can be homogeneous, but I think the blending is well under way. It has been for some time, but it wasn't identified as a pattern. Early on, there were Bible churches dealing with charismatics and the birth of Emmaus/Tres Dias communities in the mainlines. Then there were Alpha classes among the Episcopals. All of these were a re-centering among their own ilk.

Seven years ago (or so), a lot was being written about evangelical college students using Gregorian chant and ancient rituals. People thought that was the next big thing and started chasing it as an end. What wasn't clear was how many other believers were also becoming unsettled.

The thing she hints at but doesn't address is globalization. This time, not only can we speak to each other, but we can ALL speak. Look at the idea in your head that separates the South African Episcopals from the US Episcopals now that they've wrestled with homosexual clergy. And take a glance backward at how much your view of Roman Catholics has shifted in the last decade. For those wrestling with definitions of Orthodoxy (like Doug Paggit), this is exciting and may seem like a move toward ecumenism. For some evangelicals, it's terrifying and a slippery path to liberalism (many liberals are paying attention).

I think it will continue to blend for awhile, but there will also come a reassertion of the oldest creeds. This will expel some, but energize others. Seriously, isn't it at least a little exciting to see things like Lent and Advent being reclaimed and cleansed of their baggage--the presence of ritual and the sacred again in the midst of all the postmodern chaos? I believe the same will continue to happen and more and more new believers will be reaching back to our foundations for answers. That's why Rob Bell's podcast has 40,000 downloads a week--he's teaching the Old. Same thing for John Piper.

Okay--a lot more than I meant to write.