April 11, 2007

Dispatches on the Evangelical Movement

Orcinus' Sara Robinson has a couple of excellent pieces up this week providing some of the best dispatches on the state of the evangelical movement. One post is about her semester at Pat Robertson's Regent University. (Yeah, that's the one where Monica Goodling got her law degree so she could help reshape the US government to be the tool of her fundamentalist and dominionist faith.) What Sara found was something quite different than she'd expected. Her professor was much more interested in active discourse and the use of critical thinking to explore the topic at hand.

Indeed, our class discussions, both in real-time lecture and e-list posts, have been surprisingly wide-ranging and non-doctrinaire. I've cherished my interactions the young Southerner who turned me onto the whole gestalt of the Emerging Church movement, who is also active in voluntary simplicity and global anti-slavery movements. And I've been delighted to catch our professor in the act of challenging his students -- from the very first day, in fact -- to move beyond dogmatic biblical literalism, and resist the common fundamentalist impulse to hide from the present by either retreating to a mythical past, or staking it all on an absurdly overdue Revelation-based vision of the future. He seems determined that tomorrow's evangelical leaders move away from positivism and toward critical realism -- a switch that's going to change both the theological structure and the practical priorities of the movement. In this department, at least, "because the Bible tells me so" is not accepted as a good enough answer.

As Sara said, what she found at Regent University was different than what she'd expected and it behooves us to not give in to our stereotypes of who the evangelicals are. Honest and fair assessment of the individuals we encounter is still the best practice for us to follow.

The second post was one she wrote for the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm. In this post she listed the reasons she thinks we are seeing the waning edge of the current attempt of the Christian Right to take over our country. Here's what she sees changing the evangelical movement today:

  • Age Will Take Its Toll: the old guard is dying out and the young people in the movement want to have something very different than what the older leaders want.
  • The Galloping Gertie Effect: the gaffs and public exposure of the current leadership is starting to take its toll.
  • The Emerging Church: a major shift in the focus of younger people is to take their idealism in creating a better world and reject the current orthodoxy in an attempt to reclaim what it means to be Christian by living a life that reflects Jesus' values.

Sara provided a link to a very good discussion about what the Emerging Church movement is doing to the evangelical movement. As she said, her professor was quite engaged in the movement and active in the voluntary simplicity movement which is a direct repudiation of the philosophy that you can tell who are beloved by God because of their wealth. The other major change is the unwillingness of the young to deny what their own eyes tell them because their leaders tell them so. (emphasis in original)

Orthopraxy: A notable emphasis of the emerging movement is orthopraxy, that is, right living. The contention is that how a person lives is more important than what he or she believes. Many will immediately claim that we need both or that orthopraxy flows from orthodoxy. Most in the emerging movement agree we need both, but they contest the second claim: Experience does not prove that those who believe the right things live the right way. No matter how much sense the traditional connection makes, it does not necessarily work itself out in practice. Public scandals in the church—along with those not made public—prove this point time and again.

Here is an emerging, provocative way of saying it: "By their fruits [not their theology] you will know them." As Jesus' brother James said, "Faith without works is dead." Rhetorical exaggerations aside, I know of no one in the emerging movement who believes that one's relationship with God is established by how one lives. Nor do I know anyone who thinks that it doesn't matter what one believes about Jesus Christ. But the focus is shifted. Gibbs and Bolger define emerging churches as those who practice "the way of Jesus" in the postmodern era.

Jesus declared that we will be judged according to how we treat the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46) and that the wise man is the one who practices the words of Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27). In addition, every judgment scene in the Bible is portrayed as a judgment based on works; no judgment scene looks like a theological articulation test.

The authoritarians that have tried to use the evangelicals to create their new world are running into problems up and down the line. One of the biggest problems they have is that their many of chosen followers are refusing to suspend all their critical faculties to blindly follow their leaders. The growing problem with Global Warming is one area where there is too much evidence for all but the most delusional to deny. This Living On Earth program talks about how many in the evangelical movement have decided to care about the environment despite the admonishments of the leaders like Dobson. It is clear that the war on science is going end badly for the die-hard believers because they are being deserted by many evangelicals. In fact, the evangelicals who are breaking out of the cult bubble are sounding quite pragmatic and willing to look at empirical data.

DEWITT: Well, I think we're in a transition and its major root is in 60 or so evangelical colleges and universities where we have, not only the religious teaching, but we also have scientists in each of these 60 colleges, and, um, that's providing a very solid scientific, biblical, theological root that's not easily disturbed any more. So the evangelical world in a very real way is maturing in terms of its knowledge and understanding of the world. And ah, that's one thing that you do as an evangelical is you do seek the truth and when you understand the way the world works you move on and say, "ok, now what must we do?" And what we must do now is care for creation and I suppose it means we start at our very local place and build out from there.

What Sara notes is the ground is starting to move under the feet of the current authoritarian leaders and they are likely to be left behind. Meanwhile, we who care about the future of our earth and its diverse and wonderful life and the people that inhabit it have a chance to see if we can work together to forestall and mitigate the worst of the coming storm.

Posted by Mary at April 11, 2007 01:34 AM | Religion | Technorati links |
Comments

Genetix
http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-823448,36-894367@51-893376,0.html

Revealing, in a dialogue with pilosopher Michel Onfray (philosophical magazine,april2007)
Nicolas Sarkozy presented his convictions regarding sexual abuse of children and suicidal tendencies.
Sarkozy believes youre born a pedo.

Posted by: ccoaler@hotmail.com at April 11, 2007 05:31 AM

from atrios:
But they hit Jupiter with the thing to spare Europa. What if they had got that wrong?

They didn't. And the chances were infinitesimal that they would. And it wasn't the plutonium they were worried about, but any microbes that might have survived contaminating the surface. They did the right thing in dumping it into Jupiter. I'm not sure what the final reentry speed was, but it was probably up around 50 kilometer per second. Very nice flame-out.
Supreme Commander Thor

Posted by: ccoaler at April 11, 2007 05:32 AM

perhaps im confusing it but they already reported about explosions in algeria yesterday. anyway. praps just the morning show i remember

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3212,36-894381@51-894382,0.html

The two explosions that occured in Algiers, wednesday april eleventh, left 17 dead and 82 injured according to civil services. the first explosion that took place 10h45, obviously very strong, in front of the palace of the government in the centre of algiers killed 9 people. at least 32 injured. car bomb. it triggered the offices of the algerian prime minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem according to press agency APS.

the second bomb exploded in a residential area close to the police station of Bab Ezzouar (thats probably the residential area) not far off from the university of technology. Civil services estimate the number of persons killed at 8, 50 were injured.
The prime minister called it a criminal act.
a huge number of ambulances came together in front of the palace of the government securing the injured. debris spreat in a circle of 200 to 300 metres around the entry to the palace of the government and o the ministry of interior. AFP reported some panic mouvement in the streets of algiers.

Posted by: ccoaler at April 11, 2007 05:35 AM

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/04/11/sarkozy.chirac.ap/index.html

sarkozy chiraq deal

Posted by: ccoaler at April 11, 2007 05:39 AM