2 thoughts on “Christianity Yesterday

  1. Adam

    I would agree with this article if I didn’t believe and observe that one of the main pillars of Christian postmodern thought is to go back to our roots, to study the New Testament church. It was the modern church that was looking for a "new" way of doing church and interpreting scripture. They filtered the church and scripture through the scientific method, and armed with the confidence of the Enlightenment changed the face of Christianity in a drastic way. The Church today hasn’t looked more different from the early church since before the Reformation. A new church emerged during the Reformation, it looked radically different from church of its day, it was given a new face, it more than anything began resembling the New Testament Church. The “New Kind of Christian” that McLaren is looking for will most certainly be rooted in the New Testament Church. When asked to try and describe the difference between Modernism and Postmodernism one of the first things I always point out is desire of the postmodern thinker to examine history, to learn from the early church and then to apply what they learn to this postmodern context. This kind of deconstruction will result in a very “New Christian” and a very “New Church” So while Mark Galli is busy “proof texting” McLaren to facilitate his “cultural argument” against postmodern thinking, we should listen carefully both modern and postmodern thinkers, embrace the ancient church, and look for ways to plug what we learn back into our postmodern culture.

  2. Ed

    Josh, your comments are fully justified . . . (snicker, snicker)

    I think that Galli’s comments are better suited for a book review of A New Kind of Christian, not a comment on the emerging church as a whole. One of the premier emerging thinkers is Robert Webber who has given many in the emergent conversation a deeper appreciation of the Christian past has written extensively on recovering our traditions. Just do a search on "webber ancient" at amazon to see what I mean.

    So Galli misses the boat completely I think. With praying the lectio divina, the divine hours, and celtic prayers, the emerging church has been on the fore-front of recovering the past.

    Galli is right that we need to know our church history. He is wrong in saying that McLaren never quotes scripture. McLaren doesn’t quote scripture in the way that Galli is used to.

    In addition, Christians aren’t used to learning from culture and the limits of our perspective. I’ll admit that it’s frightening and potentially dangerous to freely interact with culture. Nevertheless, I would say that it is just as dangerous to ignore our culture and focus on history and scripture. In addition, it is not enough to simply respond to culture. As Christians we are called to understand it and then transform it, bringing in God’s Kingdom.

    Galli is correct in asserting the importance of scripture and wrestling with it. He does fail to recognize that the modern church is as guilty if not more guilty of ignoring history than any other church in history.

    Like Galli I worry that we become infatuated with the new and flashy. If church seems dull and dead, then it’s easy to jump on whatever comes running down the pike promising results. There probably will be a number of disappointments in emerging churches. Yet we should not get hung up on the prospect of there being a new kind of Christian.

    If Galli really caught the drift of McLaren, he would realize that McLaren advocates a new kind of old Christian. Could McLaren’s title have been better? Definitely. Galli’s critique reveals some of the negative implications in the title. Nevertheless, some of the flash and sizzle of the new thing among emerging churches should not negate the vast movement rediscovering our Christian roots.

    I’ve talked too much. Sorry about that!

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