Leaping Beyond Evangelicalism

It is tiresome.

Forthrightly pursuing a vaguely leftist social ethic whilst maintaining broadly middle-class piety. In attempting to belong to both camps, Evangelicals distance themselves from both. They might march for an end to poverty, yet their marching partners will disown them when it comes to talks about the role of faith communities in civil discourse.

Their idealised talk of the beauty of marriage becomes stale when they cease to be young, hip and attractive and become just as jaded and conflicted as every other married couple. Oh and you better believe that marriage is the ideal. They might read the Apostle Paul about gender roles, but what he said about singleness is easily glossed over.

A middle-class appearance of holiness, conceived as a home free from dissent and neatly ordered with a revolutionary, psuedo-socialist, guardian-reading twist is what teenagers go away to summer camps and sing choruses until they cry become Born Again for.

Thrilling.

And, blessed be God! We can all replicate this experience Sunday after Sunday until the world stops spinning.

The assimilation of vaguely leftist social ethics, boastful middle-class piety and the rabid consumption of emotionally ‘deep’ art forms creates a niche culture which gets to believe it is self-sufficient, all the while being a resource for the rescue of those less fortunate.

A cut-and-paste statement from Ghandi. A retweet of a mis-quote of Einstein. Snippets of philosophy. Three-minute sermon clips.

I’m so pleased that the world can see how different, unique and holy we Evangelicals are.

Only, we’re not. We’re consumers. Just like everyone else. We allow others to dictate their agendas and products to us. We pick and choose which social projects to support. We get upset when that musician makes a soul-searching song which rejects God. We pretend that our heroes didn’t tell the Jews to grin and bear it.

In all of this, it has become increasingly clear that Evangelicals have lost their voice. They have nothing to say any more. It’s just miss-quote after miss-quote.

Paired with upscale and impactful liturgical events, the illusion of a genuine experience of God is easily maintained.

Yet as I think on what I see of this world of Evangelicalism, I cannot escape the observation that it has forgotten the cross. Yes, it is sung about and burdens are left at it. However it no longer shapes the ethics of the church. The emotional appeals of preachers and poets now shapes the ethics of the people of God.

(I mean, how else do you explain the impact of Steve Chalke’s latest PR campaign theological development?)

So now I need to find a new way to construct Christian ethics.

I hope you will stay with me as I begin to leap beyond evangelicalism.

You can probably expect post-liberal arguments, Anabaptist voices and something Catholic just to authenticate myself.

And at the end of it all, I’ll probably carry on saying yes to this:

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  1. Amen to moving well away from Churchianity. How does God want us to llve – what is the gospel we are to proclaim and live by?
    The following was written by a young African pastor and tacked on the wall of
    his house: “MY COMMITMENT AS A CHRISTIAN” “I’m part of the fellowship
    of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. “My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
    “I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. “My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate
    in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or
    ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
    “I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go
    till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me – my banner will be clear!
    AND THE PEOPLE SAID AMEN

    Like

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