Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post-Evangelicalism (part three): Moving the Conversation Forward

Second on the list of dangerous terms, “the presence of God;” personally, the first thought that comes to mind when I hear this term is feeling God’s presence. Unreservedly, I have to cognitively accept on an intellectual level that God is present – in existence – and active in this world. Alternatively, I do not feel the presence of God; not to worry, I’m a religious person and not a spiritual person – I base my doctrinal opinions, primarily, upon orthodoxy and not existential faith, feelings, or spirituality.

Third on the list of abrasive terms, “spirituality;” formerly, I thought of myself as spiritual, but not religious. Such thinking was problematic because its simplicity gave way to inconsistent and dysfunctional theology. Another way of phrasing this is spiritual piety. As it turns out, the spiritually-pious nature of Evangelical theology was at the root of its downfall for me and remains an irritation in my life. Reading the Bile every day, having a relationship with God, feeling the presence of God, and being more spiritual does not make someone a better Christian – it makes them a follower of works based theology. Spirituality creates a faith that is unstable.

The fourth and final term on the list of dangerous and abrasive terms, “Evangelical;” candidly, this word offends me. When I speak of Evangelicalism, I am talking about a cultural movement within Christianity across denominations. The basic function of Evangelicalism is to simplify religious faith in Jesus Christ and eliminate the nonessential elements – basically, making discourses, such as this one, worthless. To some degree, I do not mind simplicity because the gifts of God are for everyone. In contrast, the very concept of God presents implications of mystery. Trying to simplify that mystery away, may lead one down the path of heresy (useless doctrine that is unorthodox and false). Before I anger my Evangelical friends and family, I want to clarify that Evangelical culture and the Theology of Glory failed me miserably, but you’re entitled to your opinion and I love you no matter how much I disagree with the Evangelical theological worldview. At any rate, I have no intention of ever returning to an Evangelical lens of faith because I left it so I could receive the gift of faith in God and deter the allure of Deism or Atheism. The Theology of the Cross, allows me the validity of intellectual religion that is not going to fall apart when life is chaos and disaster. Hence, I have moved past Evangelicalism into Post-Evangelicalism and found deep religious substance within Lutheranism. Ergo, I am a Post-Evangelical Lutheran.

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