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Archive for the tag “evangelical”

The Suburban Christian: Typologies of renewal: Three routes, four models, five streams

An interesting post on the changing shape of some varieties of Christianity. The Suburban Christian: Typologies of renewal: Three routes, four models, five streams:

This is something of a follow-up to my previous post on emergents and new Calvinists. In the comments, Claytonius linked to a post he’d written last year about three routes of escape from the pragmatic evangelical church. He observed that many young adults who leave evangelical churches tend to head to three other places

To summarise, the places these restless pragmatic evangelicals tend to head to are:

  • Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches
  • Emerging Churches
  • Reformed Churches

And there are four kinds of Emerging Churches:

  • Deconstructionist
  • Pre-modern/Augustinian Model
  • Emerging Peace Church Model
  • Foundationalist Model

As a language pedant, I find the growing misuse of “typology” a bit annoying. Surely the correct term is “taxonomy”?

My (secular) dictionary (Collins Millennium Edition) gives:

  • typology n Chiefly Christian theol. the doctrine or study of types or of the correspondence between them and the reality they typify.
  • taxonomy 2 n the science or practice of classification.

Typology usually has to do with one event foreshadowing another — for example the Passover and Exodus as types of Christ’s resurrection.

There’s still a language problem, though, because I’m not sure what “pragmatic” evangelicalism is, and I get the impression that “evangelical” means, or has come to mean, something different in the USA from what it means in Southern Africa. For example, in posts such as the one I was referring to, “evangelical” is mentioned in the same breath as “megachurches”.

In South Africa “megachurches” (ie the barn-style “everything under one roof” hypermarket-style super-congregations like Rhema, Christian City, The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God etc) are almost invariably Neopentecostal, rather than “evangelical”.

Evangelicals are spread over a number of different denominations that tend to have normal-sized congregations — Baptists, a few Anglicans and Methodists and the like. Evangelicals are also concentrated in some parachurch organisations like Scripture Union, Youth with a Mission, African Enterprise, and so on, which were regarded as more evangelical if they were anti-charismatic, and less evangelical if they were pro-charismatic or at least tolerant of the charismatic movement.

So where do “pragmatic” evangelicals fit in?

Another observation is that in South Africa these distinctions seem to be far more important to white Christians than to black ones.

I once attended an ecumenical mission conference where my room-mate was a hyper-Calvinist member of the Church of England in South Africa, who kept interrogating me with the TULIP test, and when I failed the test he found my presence unbearable. He kept phoning home to ask for advice on what to do, and must have been advised to “Come out of Babylon” because after a couple of days he left and I never saw him again. Back in those days I was a hands-up and knees-down Anglo-Catholic Evangelical Charismatic Anglican, with bells, smells and singing in tongues, and believing in things like “one man one vote”, which was very politically incorrect in the days of PW Botha, Adriaan Vlok, Magnus Malan and the Total Onslaught, all of which was anathema to the Church of England in South Africa. The Church of England in South Africa (CESA) is changing too, though — as Stephen Murray’s blog shows.

But even today, white Christians in South Africa tend to do the classification thing and create taxonomies. Yet among black Christians the church that is emerging is a kind of generic Protestantism. Anglicans, Assemblies, Baptists, Congregationalists, Full Gospellers, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Zionists are all coming to resemble one another more and more.

White Christians (some of them) are interested in the Emerging Church, but the church that is emerging among the majority is somewhat different.

So I think our taxonomies might be somewhat different from the American ones, and what is emerging isn’t necessarily Emerging.

The Suburban Christian: Typologies of renewal: Three routes, four models, five streams

An interesting post on the changing shape of some varieties of Christianity. The Suburban Christian: Typologies of renewal: Three routes, four models, five streams:

This is something of a follow-up to my previous post on emergents and new Calvinists. In the comments, Claytonius linked to a post he’d written last year about three routes of escape from the pragmatic evangelical church. He observed that many young adults who leave evangelical churches tend to head to three other places

To summarise, the places these restless pragmatic evangelicals tend to head to are:

  • Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches
  • Emerging Churches
  • Reformed Churches

And there are four kinds of Emerging Churches:

  • Deconstructionist
  • Pre-modern/Augustinian Model
  • Emerging Peace Church Model
  • Foundationalist Model

As a language pedant, I find the growing misuse of “typology” a bit annoying. Surely the correct term is “taxonomy”?

My (secular) dictionary (Collins Millennium Edition) gives:

  • typology n Chiefly Christian theol. the doctrine or study of types or of the correspondence between them and the reality they typify.
  • taxonomy 2 n the science or practice of classification.

Typology usually has to do with one event foreshadowing another — for example the Passover and Exodus as types of Christ’s resurrection.

There’s still a language problem, though, because I’m not sure what “pragmatic” evangelicalism is, and I get the impression that “evangelical” means, or has come to mean, something different in the USA from what it means in Southern Africa. For example, in posts such as the one I was referring to, “evangelical” is mentioned in the same breath as “megachurches”.

In South Africa “megachurches” (ie the barn-style “everything under one roof” hypermarket-style super-congregations like Rhema, Christian City, The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God etc) are almost invariably Neopentecostal, rather than “evangelical”.

Evangelicals are spread over a number of different denominations that tend to have normal-sized congregations — Baptists, a few Anglicans and Methodists and the like. Evangelicals are also concentrated in some parachurch organisations like Scripture Union, Youth with a Mission, African Enterprise, and so on, which were regarded as more evangelical if they were anti-charismatic, and less evangelical if they were pro-charismatic or at least tolerant of the charismatic movement.

So where do “pragmatic” evangelicals fit in?

Another observation is that in South Africa these distinctions seem to be far more important to white Christians than to black ones.

I once attended an ecumenical mission conference where my room-mate was a hyper-Calvinist member of the Church of England in South Africa, who kept interrogating me with the TULIP test, and when I failed the test he found my presence unbearable. He kept phoning home to ask for advice on what to do, and must have been advised to “Come out of Babylon” because after a couple of days he left and I never saw him again. Back in those days I was a hands-up and knees-down Anglo-Catholic Evangelical Charismatic Anglican, with bells, smells and singing in tongues, and believing in things like “one man one vote”, which was very politically incorrect in the days of PW Botha, Adriaan Vlok, Magnus Malan and the Total Onslaught, all of which was anathema to the Church of England in South Africa. The Church of England in South Africa (CESA) is changing too, though — as Stephen Murray’s blog shows.

But even today, white Christians in South Africa tend to do the classification thing and create taxonomies. Yet among black Christians the church that is emerging is a kind of generic Protestantism. Anglicans, Assemblies, Baptists, Congregationalists, Full Gospellers, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Zionists are all coming to resemble one another more and more.

White Christians (some of them) are interested in the Emerging Church, but the church that is emerging among the majority is somewhat different.

So I think our taxonomies might be somewhat different from the American ones, and what is emerging isn’t necessarily Emerging.

Orthodoxy and Evangelical Protestantism

Benedict Seraphim has drawn attention to this report on Biola University and the Orthodox (Biola? Sounds like some kind of health drink!).

For those who may be interested, it is a comprehensive statement of what Orthodoxy looks like from an Evangelical Protestant point of view.

It has some serious flaws, however.

In the first item, on “justification”, it points out, quite correctly, that Orthodoxy does not accept the Protestant idea of forensic justification (based as it is, on the notion of penal substitution). But it makes the error of supposing that the Orthodox understanding of Theosis is comparable to the Protestant understanding of justification. A fairer comparison would be between Theosis and the Protestant understanding of sanctification. There may be differences, but at least it would be like comparing Cheddar with Camembert, rather than comparing chalk and cheese.

Much of the remainder of the document seems to make the Orthodox Church look like the Roman Catholic Church in precisely the areas where the Orthodox Church sees itself as differing from the Roman Catholic Church. The problem here is with the frame of reference. The Biola report looks through Western spectacles, with a Western frame of reference, and does not really take into account the different frame of reference.

GodWordThink: Evangelicals?

What is an Evangelical? Am I one? Do I want to be one? asks Richard from Cyprus in GodWordThink: Evangelicals?

It’s a good question, because the word “evangelical” now has so many different meanings that it is difficult to know what people mean by it unless they define it each time they use it. It seems that secular journalists, especially in America, use it almost as a synonym for “fundamentalists”, yet not many years ago one of the big disputes between different Protestant groups in America was precisely the dispute between “Evangelicals” and “Fundamentalists”, who were at odds with each other on a variety of issues.

Richard in his post examines the differences between US and UK evangelicals. In part, these differences are cultural, but as Richard points out, they are also theological, and two groups of self-styled evangelicals seem to have quite different understandings of what they are, and what evangelicalism is.

In part the problem is that “evangelical” is basically an adjective that has been pressed into service as a noun, and the noun meanings are beginning to take over the adjectival ones. Orthodox Christians can easily describe their faith as “evangelical”, since it is based on the good news of Jesus Christ.

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