Giving Evangelicalism Only Another Generation

From “Our Mission to ‘Theologically Educate,'” A convocation given by Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, at that institution in September.

It may be true that the house of liberal Protestantism has nearly burned to the ground and we’ve been standing there screaming with our water hose for almost a century, but, brothers and sisters, we must recognize that our own kitchen is on fire and within one generation, the whole evangelical house will soon be engulfed in flames.  If liberalism is guilty of demythologizing the miraculous, we have surely been guilty of trivializing it. If liberalism is guilty of turning all theological statements into anthropological ones, surely we must be found guilty of making Christianity just another face of the multi-headed Hydra of American, market-driven consumerism.  If liberalism can be charged with making the church a gentler, kindler version of theKiwanis club, we must be willing to accept the charge that we have managed to reinvent the gospel, turning it into a privatized subset of one’s individual faithjourney.

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Assessing the Culture Warriors

From Tim Muldoon’s article at WaPo’s On Faith blog, “Faltering and Leading: The Conservative Moment,” in which Muldoon assesses David French’s fawning assessment of the state of the Conservative movement (only evangelicals need work harder!) and finds it almost very satisfactory:

If there is a hopeful note in this ancient and new story of the relationship between faith and culture, it is this: no longer is the story limited to a single narrative. There are three strands (Catholic, Evangelical, and Mormon) that French points to in his article, but there are surely others. Many contemporary Jews and Muslims, for example, are equally concerned that American laissez-faire attitudes toward sex, and therefore toward abortion, marriage, and many other social issues are toxic to a society. Further, the convergence of these narratives around social issues offers fruitful directions for interfaith conversation, when once upon a time those conversations foundered on the rocks of doctrinal disagreement.

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Pagan Elitism

From Star Foster’s recent post at Patheos:

To be an intellectual Pagan is to some degree an elistist thing. The communities that do offer support and sometimes resources are often semi-closed and even secretive. To study Paganism requires not merely dedication and time, but money, proper geography and heart. To enter into a Pagan tradition requires more than just being an egghead, you have to have passion, love and a desire for ecstatic mystery.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. What it does seem to create is a system by which every generation of Pagans is a first generation. A movement made up of converts who have to fight the same battles for understanding over and over. Someone I spoke to at PSG said that they thought the most amazing development in Paganism were children being raised in our traditions. These children don’t have to wrestle for understanding like we have and are free to move forward in new ways.

(h/t David Metcalfe) Continue Reading →