Post-Charismatics, Neo-Evangelicals, Gunslingers And Zombies
Jason Clark is stirring up the pot on the question of applying post/neo/radical tags to existing branches of the church, like charismatics and evangelicals. For the most part, I like what Jason is saying, as well as the points Sivin Kit and the historical context Next Reformation puts this into. It is seductive to try […]
Jason Clark is stirring up the pot on the question of applying post/neo/radical tags to existing branches of the church, like charismatics and evangelicals. For the most part, I like what Jason is saying, as well as the points Sivin Kit and the historical context Next Reformation puts this into.
It is seductive to try and drive a wedge between culture and ideas, because it tempts us with the belief in the possibility of reformation. If only we could be true to the ideas (be they evangelical or charismatic in this instance), then we would change the culture. However, it never works out that way. Our practices shape our ideas (or maybe, our practices are our ideas), so the ingrained habits of church, the ideas of faith and the culture they breed form a three strand rope we cannot easily unwind.
That is part of why I always feel skeptical about post/neo/radical tags being applied to aspects of church. However, there is something stronger that drives me; I just don’t feel that defining the church and faith in terms of a narrow set of 20thC debates is helpful. A critical moment in this was the birth of my daughter in 2001. Attending church with her, I became acutely aware of the number of debates and issues which shaped the churches we participated in. Some were, of course, timeless dilemnas and paradoxes. But others were, to borrow a phrase from Bauman, zombie-debates; dead-ideas and dead-controversies that were not really relevant to life and mission in this century and were only kept alive because we chose to keep fighting about them, choose to keep debating them.
The use of post/neo/radical tags performs a kind of theological dark magic that keeps these zombies alive. Moreover, it connects to one other aspect I do not like of the p/n/r-tags, the theological swagger. I suspect the two may be related (we will see both in the coming theological scramble), perhaps because the swagger uses well-worn past debates as a way if establishing supremacy (after all the first task of the new supreme gunslinger is to defeat the existing supreme gunslinger).
Hopefully, we can move past the p/n/r-tags (as well as the zombies and gunslingers), with a focus on both a new culture of faith and a healthy appreciation for all that the past has to teach us.