Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Food for Thought

Here is an interesting article regarding the strong growth (dare I say explosion) of Eastern Orthodox churches in the States. No fancy gimmicks, no praise bands, and certainly no post modern liturgy. Isn't it interesting with the bent of more liberal churches to make liturgy "contemporary" that our population consistently continues to plummet. But those churches that give a strong foundation seem to be growing. Maybe by blowing in the wind of culture worship fads, we become more irrelevant than we were to begin with. Maybe people cannot in fact relate to crap like God's womb bursting creation, this is my walrus broken for you, goo goo g'joob...The joker laughs at you.


BrotherBeal said...

I think that, for the most part, attempts to "reach out" to seekers are doomed to fail. Those who claim to be honestly seeking out some meaning or truth in the various religious traditions of the world are certainly not going to shy away from something exotic in favor of more of the same. Indeed - why would they, unless that "same" were in fact the truth (and then, why would they be seeking in the first place?)? It seems to me to be roughly analogous to the difference between an online "diploma mill" university and a standard four-year college. Both offer the same degree at the end, just as both liturgical and contemporary churches offer the same "salvation" - but in the end it is the time spent in the standard university which provides the real substance behind the degree. It is not enough to be "saved" - we must be renewed day in and day out until, God willing, we reach a point where we no longer stumble. This is the point which liturgical churches have a strong advantage over the assembly-line churches that make up much of the Religious Right - and it is this point which I believe we are seeing in the article.

P.S.: Forgive me if "liturgical" and "contemporary" aren't true opposites - this is far from my field. I'm just a lowly layperson trying to weed through the scraps off Seabury's table to find something I can actually understand.

Stephen Newell said...

So, then, we are not to become all things to all men? To paraphrase Paul, you think we should not become seekers to reach seekers?

There is a place for the traditional, make no mistake. But technology (did I detect a disdain for PowerPoint in there somewhere?) can only enhance the experience of the traditional. It has certainly made the Roman Catholic services I've attended more accessible for me, a lowly Southern Baptist (and Deaf on top of that).

Also, evangelical churches make the same emphasis on renewal (usually described as "walking with Jesus day by day" or some such phrase) that brotherbeal calls for. You will find no disagreement with brotherbeal that "diploma mill" churches are not the proper institutions--indeed such churches are not and should not be the norm for evangelicals.

I strongly disagree with brotherbeal that these types of churches make up the majority of the "Religious Right." The majority of these churches actually emphasize the traditional--theology, organization, worship, and so on. But these churches have recognized that in many cases remaining traditional is not enough--indeed remaining traditional is a death sentence for many evangelical churches.

No, I think becoming all things to all men is a much more biblical way to reach the world. To the traditional I become traditional, to the seeker I become a seeker.

Stephen Newell said...
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BrotherBeal said...

Jedi -

I think you and I understand the command to become all things to all people differently. If I'm reading you right, your understanding extends to religious and philosophical ideas. That to me seems patently impossible. Are we to become atheists for the sake of atheists? Are we to become Satanists for the sake of Satanists? I know these are extreme examples, but I don't believe that sacrificing any aspect of the Christian identity, even as an evangelical tool, is what Scripture intends. The way I interpret the command to be all things is to be ready to fill any and all needs that those around us may have. To the talkative man I am a listener. To the shy man I provide conversation. To the sad man I tell jokes. To the happy man I share in his happiness. To the seeker, though, the best I can offer is the faith I profess - the rest is up to his honesty and God's influence.

I understand where you come from as a Southern Baptist - I used to be a Southern Baptist as well, but my experiences there coupled with my experiences since have caused me to all but leave the church (but that's another story). The church I attended had little impact on my life outside of Sunday mornings - not because I didn't want it to, but rather because, from its perspective, I was "saved" and the rest was irrelevant. Many people I know who used to attend that church with me and others like it have also moved on for similar reasons - and, for the most part, they've been met with outright hostility by their former friends there. As I said, another story though.