Monday, November 09, 2009

Connecting the dots

This semester I’ve been connecting dots… and they are beginning to make a shape.

I’m in a group-read of James K. A. Smith’s (Calvin College) Desiring the Kingdom. In another group I’m reading Newberg & Waldman’s How God Changes your Brain. Steve Rennick, pastor of The Church at the Crossing sent me a book on the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God by Frances Chan. I recently read the Emerging Nazarene's White Paper. I heard Charlie Alcock preach this past Sunday. Read stuff by and about Shane Claiborne. I talked to several younger pastors last weekend and also heard Leonard Sweet talk. I heard at lunch today a report about Steve Lennox’s recent string of local church meetings. I just answered a ton of email that had been piling up in my in-box. These and a dozen other dots have all connected to say a similar thing: “There is something wrong with the level of Christianity as we know it now.”

What do these dots mean? What’s up?

The conversations and writings sound strangely familiar, like echoes from the past. Sometimes they sound like the ancient desert fathers describing conventional Christians. They often sound like medieval monks intent on creating a new monastic order. They sound like the Puritans of the 1600’s. They remind me at times of early radical Protestants complaining about the Roman Catholic church. They sound similar to early Methodists complaining about the Anglican church. They are often reminiscent of the 18th century American holiness movement talking about mainline Methodism. They sound strangely similar to 20th Century Pentecostals describing nominal Christianity. They even sound a lot like radical holiness splinter groups who complained about “mainline holiness denominations.” The issues are different but the language, tone and complaints are similar. The dots are not isolated but they repeat a similar patter and the shape always says, : “There is something wrong with the level of Christianity as we know it now.”

I’m pondering these dots and wondering what’s up...


Jess said...

Interesting...can't wait to hear what your pondering results in :)

Keith Drury said...

JESS... Yeah, and I'm be interested in your take too... as hinted at in the string of historical references it is possible a massive "soul shift" of the church could be on the way. If there is… I want to be among that number and not postured with the “protectors of the heritage” as were the Judaizers in the first century... Roman Catholics in the 16th century, or the Anglicans, Methodists, mainliners in later generations.

However every time there has been a growing unrest that “Christianity isn’t what it ought to be” has not led to a soul-shift revival or reform. Sometimes those discontented simply gave up or found something else that better suited their yearning. At other times they eventually “settled in” and adopted conventional nominal Christian living. If the “dots of discontent” lead beyond critique to reform then a true soul-shift might occur. That’s what I’m watching for (hoping for).

Greg said...