Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Need For Roots
To scan the popular Christian publications today is to conclude that the category of heresy has not been lost, but it has been relocated. The new anathema is “cultural Christianity.” “Missional Christians” disparage it. The supposed demise of Christendom is the rallying cry of young, hip evangelicals. Many would prefer to be labeled “Arian” than derided as “Constantinian.” They suspect even classical Christian doctrine, infected as it supposedly is with the cultural categories of Greek thought.Anyone who reads this blog knows that I hate seeing when pop-culture replaces mature Christianity, but I think that is a different thing than the Christian culture being discussed here.
But should the Church wish to produce further generations of Christians with the luxury to protest Christendom, she needs to preserve and transmit Christian culture in addition to faith. Eliot, no stranger to nuance, on this matter expresses himself quite plainly: “I believe the choice before us is between the formation of a new Christian culture, and the acceptance of a pagan one.”
In an arresting passage, he warns that to neglect the transmission of Christian culture is to destroy “our ancient edifices to make ready the ground upon which the barbarian nomads of the future will encamp in their mechanized caravans.” He would be unsurprised to see those edifices further eroded today. He might be surprised to see a crustaceous crowd of post-Christendom Christians celebrating the loss.
But then we have a "church" today that is largely unhinged from its roots. we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The church, in all its many forms has corrupted and corrupted again. But it has also self-righted over time. The problem is, we have run so quickly towards rejection that we no longer give it time to self-right before we move on.
In so doing we have reduced church to arguments over which church is right and which is wrong and lost all that has been built before. We have reduced church to theology, and that is shallow Christianity indeed.
Theology, spirituality, mystery, art, behavior - these are all aspects of what it means to be the church.
It is high time we seek them out again.