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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

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3.17.2009

What's Next?

This Sunday we'll be talking about Phyliss Tickle's book The Great Emergence again. The basic message of the book (in fact, it's the subtitle) is that Christianity is changing for a variety of different reasons. Here a few links that have shown up in the past weeks that offer different perspectives on the changes within Christianity:
  • TIME names "The New Calvinism" as #3 of the top ten ideas that are changing the world right now. The article quotes Al Mohler as saying about young people, "They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God...The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." (See also this post by Mark Driscoll himself that includes 4 reasons why neo-Calvinism is so attractive) Interestingly enough, the article begins by offering the Calvinist slant of popular Christian music as evidence for the shift; a statement akin to one Tickle made at the conference in Cincinnati a few weeks ago.
  • The prediction that Evangelicalism is coming to an end. First a series of posts found here, then picked up by several other blogsites. One of the most notable statements is that, "This collapse, will...herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian west and will change the way tens of millions of people see the entire realm of religion. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become particularly hostile towards evangelical Christianity, increasingly seeing it as the opponent of the good of individuals and society." While this is simply an opinion piece, the statement that "HALF of evangelicals [will] be something else within 2-3 generations/10-20 years" is similar to Tickle's statement that in the coming years, 50% of Christianity will operate within what she calls "The Emerging Center" or "The New Rose." (She also claims that "experts" agree).
  • A bit of a heated blog-a-logue regarding the nature of "virtual community," primarily started by Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels. See an interview here between Shane and Rob Bell, a longer one here with Zach Lind (from JEW!), and finally, the one that started it all (watch this one if none of the others). Essentially, Shane claims that true community must have the following: 1) A kind of shared history: This helps establish a sense of identity & belonging; 2)Permanence: This is how you get the shared history; 3) Proximity: You have to BE with each other to create meaningful connection; 4) A shared imagination of the future: This is especially important within Christian community. More interesting than Shane's claims were the responses by different bloggers, most notably AWC here, and Scot McKnight here and here, with a final response from Shane.
So, my point in sharing all these links is several. First, to give us a bit of shared resources to discuss on Sunday. So in the following days, as you have time, peruse some of these links, and perhaps post some more in the comments. But more importantly, I want to pose the question to be discussed this Sunday, "Are things in Christianity and religion at large really changing, and if so, what do we think is next?" At the last discussion session we briefly discussed some ideas of what might be the coming "authority" in terms of religion and even society (BTW, Tickle claims that the authority from the time of the Reformation until about the mid-1900's was "Sola Scriptura" or "Scripture alone").

In short, what will Christianity look like in 5, 10, 20 years? What does that mean about how we should be living and believing now? Where are the changes taking place, and where will the "new" Christianity be, and what might it look like?

3 comments:

Adam Newby said...

Please take a look at this Tony Jones blog where he re-posts a couple of comments from Brad Cecil.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/tonyjones/2009/03/when-brad-cecil-talks-i-listen.html

It's really short. Of particular interest to me is Brad's description of the modern era view of "truth" and how the modern definition of "truth" has actually killed truth. I think he is on to one of the major reasons Christians are moving away from the idea of Sola Scriptura.

Jesse said...

Some more resources:

http://deepchurch.org.uk/2009/03/19/emergent-uk-rip/
Emerging UK website decides to shut down, primarily (from what I can tell) because they want to move beyond emerging. I think this is a really interesting idea, one that Brian McLaren hinted at a week ago with a comment akin to saying that if Emergent is successful, it will be non-existent in about 10 years. I think the idea is that we stop talking about emergent and start living emergently . I think we strive for this in our group, and these periodic discussions about "what is emergent?" are actually somewhat few and far between. (see also this post: http://deepchurch.org.uk/2008/09/24/beyond-the-emerging-church/

On a totally separate note, Nicholas Kristoff's Thursday article is entitled "The Daily Me" and he points out that with more and more information available, people tend to gravitate towards the opinions that they agree with, resulting in, "The decline of traditional news media will accelerate the rise of The Daily Me, and we’ll be irritated less by what we read and find our wisdom confirmed more often. The danger is that this self-selected “news” acts as a narcotic, lulling us into a self-confident stupor through which we will perceive in blacks and whites a world that typically unfolds in grays. I think everyone would agree that the WWW, increased sharing of information, technology, etc. is a huge part of "What is next?" - but could this be one negative aspect? Instead of making us more aware, more tolerant, more intelligent, could the reverse be true? We are more entrenched, more segregated, more adamant that WE ARE RIGHT?

Read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/opinion/19kristof.html?_r=1

Scot said...

"...with more and more information available, people tend to gravitate towards the opinions that they agree with, resulting in, "The decline of traditional news media ...We are more entrenched, more segregated, more adamant that WE ARE RIGHT?"

this is part of the reason I feel we need to be sensitive to what kind of image we (COEC) project via the blog. There is no escaping that certain issues have hot buttons that could unintentionally cause God hungry people to pass on looking closer. I get that our spirituality is woven into all aspects of our lives and so all issues are important. On the other hand it seems like the current politically polarized world needs to be able to approach God on a level that transcends the political. Again, I really like the a/political Ikon example.