As I've said before, I'm somewhat irreverant; Michael Spencer (aka The iMonk) is too, but he's smart; smart about practical theology and sanctified living like Mark Steyn is smart about politics and foreign affairs.
Michael has written another excellent post (aren't they all) on the culture war and its affect on the church, specifically evangelicalism. He mentions names and movements, but the truth is ... with the exception of Eugene Peterson ... the names and the movements get in the way of his message: the Western portion of the Bride of Christ has lost her way and even manna dropped on her backtrail won't help her find her way home - only the trail of blood leading back to an empty cross will do that.
The piece is a CRIB must read for all believers, of any cut of cloth: who are frustrated with the apparent powerlessness of the Church in the West, who are unmoved by the current guiver full of leaders and their worldly agendas, and who know there is more than this to life in Christ ... Jesus Himself says so! [John 10:10]
To avoid unfairly rehearsing Michael's entire post here, I've only lifted key pieces in order to entice you to roll over there and read up. But I'm giving you lazy trolls enough so that you'll at least get the gist of his message.
Michael focuses early on what he preceives to be the problem ...This situation doesn't happen because evangelicals know how to spiritually form disciples. It happens because we are largely unable to decide what it means to be spiritually formed or even how to get there.In the following statement Spencer seems to imply that the "interest in the culture war" is an historically recent phenomena, it isn't ... it has been with us since Hustler and Playboy magazines were first published in the 50s. It has only recently gained respectability.
So we get blog posts on movies, exposed stomachs and preachers that say "crap." The obvious answer - to form church communities that make clear choices in the area of spiritual disciplines and influences - seems completely unimaginable to most evangelicals. In the meantime, let's get out the vote. [...]
Spiritual formation is no longer interesting to most evangelical churches. Pentecostals want experience and megachurches want activity and support. The point at the end of it all is the expansion of the churches themselves and the ability of individual Christians to live in support of the church as the proper end of the earthly Christian life. The missional goal of most evangelical churches in America is the further growth of the church.I am suggesting, therefore, that the increasing interest in the culture war among evangelicals is not an example of a reinvigorated evangelicalism remaking its culture. Instead, I believe the intense focus by evangelicals on political and cultural issues is evidence of a spiritually empty and unformed evangelicalism being led by short-sighted leaders toward a mistaken version of the Kingdom of God on earth.Paul said it this way ...Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.In other words, Christ's "Kingdom is not of this world." [John 18:36] Michael goes on ...Romans 14:16-17The Culture War makes sense to Christians who have little or no idea how to be Christians in this culture except to oppose liberals and fight for a conservative political and social agenda - an agenda often less than completely examined in the light of scripture, reason, tradition and experience.To end his rant he asks and answers these questions ...Where is the Gospel? Where is the missional calling of the Christian? Where is the church's ministry of spiritual formation? Where are ministries of Word and Sacrament?Ouch! Now didn't that feel good? If so go read what I left out.
All of these are increasingly buried under doublespeak and culture war rhetoric. Evangelicalism is being betrayed by many of its leaders who are building their "ministries" by the appeal to anything but the Gospel and compassion of Jesus.
The culture war agenda increasingly makes sense to evangelicals who are spiritually unformed, distracted and misled.
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