Friday, April 21, 2006

Flat world

I wrote the following in October (I say this because I refer to some things that took place awhile ago). For some reason I kept it in the draft section, but a post by Scot Mcknight made me think about it again, and when I found it, I realized I'd never posted this piece. Okay, brake is over. I'm going to go get a diet coke, and bug spray, and continue to put together my garage sale.

Our world is becoming flatter.

This new reformation, as some are referring to, is occurring in religion, politics, the media, TV, etc. But I'll deal with signs in religion:

New Book by Rob Bell entitled Velvet Elvis. He is championing the need for all of us to engage the scriptures, to discuss in community what the Bible says. Encouraging conflict, but the kind of conflict that drives us forward. He is democratizing the study of theology or flattening the hierarchy.

He relates the following: Rabbi's generally began their public teaching and training of disciples at age thirty. A Rabbi's students followed him everywhere, and only the best and brightest became disciples of the Rabbi--the rest took up jobs--like fishing.

So when Jesus calls a bunch of fishermen as disciples he is calling the cast-offs. He told a bunch of fishermen that they could be like him. --(pg. 131, Velvet Elvis).

But Miller's main theme is dissatisfaction with the way
Christianity is taught and practiced. He says the religion ought not to be
presented as a formula, its tenets broken down into bullet points to fit
modern Western thought patterns. At its heart, Miller argues, Christianity
is relationship. Interested people should be presented with biblical stories
rather than steps to salvation. Miller also believes that many Christians
behave correctly but their actions lack meaning: "The tough thing about
Christian spirituality is, you have to mean things. You can't just go
through the motions or act religious for the wrong reasons... This thing is
a thing of the heart." However, Miller offers only faint suggestions to
replace the formulaic or systematic approach to faith that he denounces.

--Publisher's Weekly

I included more of this quote than I wanted because the last sentence seems ironic. A book eschewing formulaic or systematic approaches to Christianity is not going to offer new ones. It will simply offer a story--which Blue Like Jazz does.

  • More and more churches are pastored by pastors who do not have seminary degrees. My brother-in-law was told by a pastor who has his doctorate not to waste his time, unless it was something he really wanted to do. (The same pastor told my sister that she had better have one if she wanted to go into ministry.)
  • My own church just did away with two levels of hierarchy in its small groups ministry.
  • The fascination with the DaVinci Code. The Da Vinci Code lashes out at the hierarchy of the Catholic church and its subjugation of women, (I admit, The Da Vinci Code has little basis in historical fact.) but people are drawn to it because they are disillusioned with their faith. The story makes sense to people because they look around and it does seem like women get the short end of the stick in the Catholic Church. And (after the pedophile cover-up) it makes sense to the average person on the street that those priests could be hiding something. Most church attendees lack the historical background in the Christian faith (because churches don't teach it and public schools certainly don't) so The Da Vinci Code, a book about why women aren't priests and why priests are crooks, seems believable. Satan attacks our weaknesses in theology; after all, he attacks our own physical weakness, why not our theological ones as well.

These are a few of the signs that Christianity is changing. God isn't, but the way we understand Him and relate to Him is.

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