Friday, February 19, 2010
"Losing My Religion"
Greg Boyd, in his newest book, The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution, begins with this: "Once upon a time I embraced the Christian religion... [which he lost and that was] "a tremendous blessing. Because when I lost my religion, I discovered a beautiful revolution."I have to agree entirely on McKnight's take on the state of American evangelicalism, but I also want to point out that it arose in response to conditions within the mainstream where it too had become "thin" - though a different remix. And frankly, such were the forces that shaped the Reformation.
The reason there are Greg Boyds in this world is because American evangelicalism has been a thin remix of Romans, a religion shaped too much by a simplistic gospel and too rarely shaped by the robust kingdom vision of Jesus that itself gave rise to a much more robust gospel in Paul.
Are we doomed to a never ending succession of splits, fractures, an divisions? It makes you wonder. I am not in favor of the post-evangelical future found in the individualistic or emerging expressions we see coming. I find myself hoping for revival of the institutional churches. I am probably pipe-dreaming, but it is what I pray for. The institutions offer us something that we cannot achieve without - witness by the ever increasing rapidity with which the next thing arises.
So what is an individual Christian supposed to do? Obviously, the move is to take one's ball and strike out on one's own - that is the move to the "emerging" church. I'd like to suggest that real Reformation comes not by going away, but by "seditiously" staying within. Change the church by being changed.
God changed the world not by leaving it, but by incarnating into it. The church cannot be fixed by leaving it - we can only reform it by living in it. We can only reform it if we are reformed.
Stay in the church, but don't worry about the church, worry about being who God wants you to be in the church.
Think about this for just a minute. The essence of leaving church is about us - we know better, we are smarter, etc. But the essence of true transformation is self-denial, service, even unto death.
Church is not much fun, nor is it often particularly helpful to my faith - though many of the individuals in it are. But I serve the church, it does not serve me. Think about it.