Monday, March 08, 2010
The Church and the Economy
The response by so many of our Mainline leaders and structures has been to denounce the prosperity gospel but offer no "middle range." We get platitudes about living in abundance and exhortations to avoid greed but where is the instruction that guides me in my daily economic life. Consequently, Christians pick up whatever they can from whoever they can get it ... our equivalent of shamans ... to make sense of their economic existence. They sure don't get it from the the church. The prosperity gospel fills a vacuum created by Mainline leaders. So, yes, the prosperity gospel contributed to the crash but the rise the prosperity gospel is a consquence of silence from Mainliners and other Christian communities.It's interesting he does not expect the Evangelical community to reach out to those "middle" issues.
I essentially agree with the point that the church is not providing enough answers and hence things like the prosperity gospel step into the gap, but I would stop short of pointing fingers at a specific expression of Christian faith or the development of theological tools.
I would place the blame on us - mainline, evangelical, even catholic - having reduced Christianity to one of two polar extremes. Either Christianity is mere intellectual agreement to a short easily stated set of beliefs. or it is a miraculous, seemingly supernatural experience, typically tongues. Talk about missing the middle! Christianity is both those things and everything in between. "Theology" isn't the answer because that's just more intellectual agreement. Miracles may help. but we cannot rely on them.
I can think of no word other than "mystical" for what we need to find. That word has a lot of negative connotation, but what I am talking about is a place where faith meets understanding and the miraculous meets the everyday. We worship a supernatural God and we have access to His power to operate outside nature. But we live in the natural world - somehow we need to integrate that, not escape into one or the other. Our mind informs our faith and our faith informs our action, but - our action informs our faith and our faith informs our minds, sometimes against the information our senses provide it. It's not a street with traffic flowing in either direction, it's an integrated whole that is simply us.
There is a point to be made the the American's church's emphasis on abundance contributed to the over extension of credit that lies at the bottom of the recent economic crisis. However, I doubt the numbers would say that it is "the" cause." But there is something we as Christians can learn from all this - Christ addresses our totality, when we lock Him in a box, He is going to find a way out.