Friday, January 14, 2005

Emergent Church As Intellectual Reactionism?

From Jason Clark:

In the modern church by and large, we bought in the Cartesian project, the dualism of thinking being supreme above experience/matter.

We see this in the way faith is reduced to propostional statements that we have to give intellectual ascent to in order to access relationship with Christ.

So we have a faith based on rationalism and thinking yet it ends up largely unthinking. This is the Nihilsm Newbigin talks about. Ironically a faith based unpon thinking alone, within the cartesian model does not allow for questioning, and leads to this nihilsitic stagnation.

So christian sprituality is about thinking the right things, but we aren't allowed to think too much, to question, to doubt, to use our minds at all. Seminaries become finsihing schools for what has already been learned, not to learn.

Spirituality is is based in our minds but is still largely unthinking. And when people do think, to question, to doubt, rather than seeing it as the route to genuine faith, we told people to stop doubting.

My response/thoughts:

No doubt that modernity saddled much of evangelical Christianity with a schizophrenic nature: both anti-intellectual in its liberal-slippery-slope paranoia, and nonmystical in its strident rationalism.

Couple this with the constant struggle in any human organization to determine the proper balance between protecting orthodoxy and allowing freedom, and I think our plight is easy to understand - if not decipher or improve!

What I think we're seeing in many places is a shift along one or both of these two axes: the rational v. mystical and the conformity v. diversity. Some are sliding along only one axis, while others are moving on two; some are sliding evenly into a particular quadrant, while others are veering wildly to the extreme on one ordinal.

Posted by: Jeff Richardson January 12, 2005 01:31 PM


1 comment:

Anselm said...

I like the axis/cartesian imagery, and I can see it in multiple dimensions. I see the church as always growing and evolving - (not in a moderist way) - but organically. You're right, its hard to keep all the different elements balanced. As a great theology proffessor once said, "the only time I'm balanced is when the swinging pendulum is in the middle, heading back the other way."