Response: Is Post-Evangelicalism a Compromise?

I want to thank everyone for your insightful comments. You're all truly a blessing, and such discussion is beautiful proof of the power of online fellowship. Maybe not as good as flesh and blood, but a relevant piece of my spiritual makeup today.

To Paul and Maiken: thanks for sharing your own experiences in this shared struggle of emergence. We're not the only crazy ones out there.

To Jedidiah: thank you for being intellectually and spiritually honest. These are necessary questions we must continually ask ourselves.

Is this still good? Have we gone off course? Are we compromising the message of Christ?

My answer, for now, is: not yet. I think that for many Christians, the fear of the ominous "slippery slope" that postmodernism can lead to is enough to keep them from ever engaging important questions. For the spiritual journeys of some, that's ok. It's enough to simply believe... but those who accept such faith (I hesitate to use the term "blind faith" because by definitition FAITH must be blind in certain ways, so I would not use the term negatively) are becoming fewer and fewer.

I have a hunch that modernist or traditional evangelical Christianity is not answering the necessary questions our society is posing in any relevant way. These questions do not invoke a "better" Christianity or even a "superior" attitude toward God and scripture. They do, however, highlight inherent differences between Christian culture and 21st Century Western culture at large.

Heh heh. The word "bastardize" makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. And to whore out Christianity to the whims of pop-philosophy is, again, a valid concern.

I guess my insistence, ultimately, is not on post-evangelicalism as much as my priority is the unreached masses who cringe and hide, not from God or Jesus, but from Christendom. Tbere is a marked difference.

Yes, my immediate loyalties are probably wrapped up in a post-evangelical/post-modern worldview (Godview), but I pray for the humility to lay that all down for the sake of the human individual in front of me - for the sake of Christ.

I've been confronted recently, more than usual, with the reality that postmodernism does not speak to every individual. Plenty of Americans, even nonChristians, are steeped in a modernist worldview. Not inferior to my own, but simply different.

I think the deepest question you ask, Jed, is: "How compatable is the Christian message with post-modern constructs?" I would say it is AS compatible to postmodernism as it was to modernism. In many ways, more than any of us yet understand, we have bastardized Christianity to a modernist worldview.

If Christ's message is true and universal, then it must be applicable to any and all cultures, relevant and understandable to all, yet it will ultimately go only so far.

On a semi-side-note, I was discussing the dreaded "New Age Movement" with a good friend of mine, far more orthodox than myself (often very enviable), and I suggested: "what if, fifty years from now, it is a commonly-accepted fact that the New Age Movement saved American Christianity?" We laughed, but I continued: "What if the spirituality proliferated out of New Age, albiet generic and pluralist, saves American Culture from the humanistic, antispiritual doom of Western Europe?"

I think, at the heart of my questioning, is a hunch that New Age spirituality, or whatever else comes to the table outside of orthodox Christian spirituality, can be viewed as a help to Christian evangelism - rather than a hinderance. We tend to view other modes of belief as enemies to be conquered, rather than languages, even opportunities, to engage.

Granted, a Christian who finds Christ out of New Age culture may not "look" like the kind Christian most of us are used to, but Christ manifests in very unexpected places. Afterall, Eastern Orthodox Christians look nothing like American Pentacostals. In comparison to the ancient traditions they practice, we must look like hyper-emotional-hippie-heretics.

Did I go off track there? I'm not lauding New Age spirituality or advocating for a merger of faiths. I guess I believe that every brand of Christianity in every age becomes something of a harlot - selling itself to culture - putting on more makeup to hide imperfections (real or only perceived). The tough question, I think, is this: how do we appeal to a culture, offer it value and speak its language, without compromising the essentials of our faith? Maybe hindsight is all we have, but I'd like to think that the Holy Spirit is still able to guide us through the desert, even if it takes 40 years!

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