Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mmmmm.... high fructose corn syrup or salt?

What follows below is an edited version of an email I just sent to a new friend of mine in Victoria. Caveat: I haven't had a chance to read Roger Olson's essay but want to soon. I'm going here from the good summary description given me by Matthew Davidson.
Interesting about Roger Olson's perspective about "consistent Protestantism." With great enthusiasm, this past Spring I waded through Diarmuid McCulloch's new tome Reformation: Europe's House Divided. McCulloch is a great writer. It is an absolute tour de force history of the philosophical and historical underpinnings that exploded in the diverse and contradictory reactions that we call Reformations. I'm interested in understanding the Protestant ethos more clearly, not only because I was so powerfully shaped by the Wesleyan stream of it growing up, but also because I think Protestantism is sort of the 'default' religious identity undergirding most of Western society today. So in order to fathom the intricate beauty and possibility of the Kingdom of God's presence in our world - the challenge the Church is given - I think we really have to get our heads around the meaning (gifts and weaknesses) of Protestant culture. Individualism (in my mind the ground zero of Protestant identity) has both inherently present in it. Is it not likely that all the searchings for an Evangelical ecclesiology will ultimately return to "here I stand," as opposed to a robust witness to community, communion... the Trinity. And yet so many of the serious Evangelicals doing this kind of work are so desirous to connect or perhaps re-connect their ecclesial life theologically to the notion of community or the Trinity, (e.g., the late Stan Grenz' opus Theology for the Community of God , Volf's After Our Likeness et al). And this strong sense of community is certainly manifest (or at least wanted) in the life of many (most?) Protestant Evangelical congregations that I know of (constantly talking using the language of "fellowship" and so on). I actually have a real affection for this aspect of Evangelical culture as a sort of quaint nostalgia (and enjoy "fellowshipping" over coffee or other food and drink a great deal). The problem or weakness comes in that much of this type of individualist-based community has more potential to habituate narcicissm as oppsed to communion with the one true God, and has the tendency to form Christians to be the high fructose corn syrup of the world instead of the salt. Or worse, Pat Robertson! Have you heard about his call to assisinate the President of Venezuela?! So bizarre.

In any case, the current clamouring for some Evangelicals to develop an ecclesiology, or, on a more popular level to try to authentically live out their life as the Church is, I think, deeply rooted in their best readings of the Biblical story.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann talked in his journals about the 'fresh air' of the Biblical world and the stuffiness of all things Byzantine! Practically speaking, I think in our search for living out the the Church's mission, I think we'd all do well to have a good slow read of Jean Vanier's Community and Growth. Is it too bold to suggest that it would help the Orthodox existentially and the Evangelicals philosophically?



Post a Comment

<< Home