Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

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Sunny Day On Orcas Island ~ Cloudy Day for Evangelicals

The glories of summer are upon us in the great Pacific Northwest Islands; those who have discovered the brilliance of these emerald gems will not deny ~ when the skies are clear blue and the sea air moderate, dry and warm ~ this is heaven on earth.

My day started with a request to review another “emergent/missional church” book aimed at conversations with “unbelievers.”

Having actually spent most of my career engaging in such conversations, there was a hollowness in the book that did not ring true and authentic. It was endorsed by the usual crowd of nouveau evangelicals, who continue to endorse each other’s books, get published, create a lot of stir within the evangelical movement. Do they not see they are truly only a sidecar attraction? In fact I think many of them know theirs is a movement grasping for some sense of relevance, while realizing their influence is diminishing.

Probably what troubles me most about this particular book is the author’s default to easy breezy simplicity expressed in a style suggesting word processing over literary finesse.

I accept this from many writers because they are incapable of more, but this particular writer once showed the promise of a thoughtful creative who could deliver an aesthetically rich prose that transcended the severe limitations imposed by evangelical publishers. They generally aim for the 35 – year-old housewife and now for the 20-35 hipsters who think they are the solution to our religious malaise (not realizing they are part of the problem.)

Relevance is a good thing for a Christian thinker¢â‚¬¦.I thought of this when I read Sean Penn’s comments at the opening of Canne film festival.
“One way or another, when we select the Palme d’Or winner, I think we are going to feel very confident that the film-maker who made the film is very aware of the times in which he or she lives.”

For the longest time the church has operated in a cultural vacuum and so it is good for all of us, young and old, to do the theology that will connect our faith specifically to the times we are in .

But today the work required to translate faith to culture is encumbered by two equal and opposite powerful forces.

First–a biblical, theological, historical literacy is a prerequisite for doing serious faith and cultural correlation. Many of today’s younger (and older) evangelical reformers possess a cultural literacy that far outweighs their literacy in our biblical, theological, historical legacy.

Second– when the culture suffers from an unbearable intellectual, spiritual, creative impoverishment produced by a soul-deadening, busy, commercialized, consumerised, marketized frenzy of activity — seeking relevance too often consists of taking on the very qualities that need to identified, confronted and eradicated, not emulated or imitated.

Jonathan Edwards once said “God makes men aware of their misery before He reveals His mercy and love.”

Transforming our culture begins with recognizing the misery of our superficial faith, abandoning our role as outsiders content to speak to each other and rediscovering the role of a countercultural prophet, showing a better way in community and speaking the truth, gracefully in an age hungry for meaning.

You cannot export what you do not possess.

Our path back starts with renewing a deep pursuit of God, of whom A.W. Tozer said, “God is always nearer than you can imagine Him to be. God is so near that your thoughts are not as near as God; your breath is not as near as God; your very soul is not as near to you as God is. And yet, because He is God, His uncreated Being is so far above us that no thought can conceive it nor words express it.”

A culture seeking the transcendent can only be reached by those who have hungered and thirsted to know God and who have been transformed by God’s imminent presence.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in May 17, 2008 by | No Comments »

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