Friday, December 08, 2006

"The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future"

Dr. Bob Webber's recently spearheaded a theological conversation involving hundreds of voices which has resulted in something entitled, "A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future". It's a challenge for Christians to take full advantage of this postmodern window to spark radical renewal in the church. There's a conference going on right now by the same name ("A Call...") with speakers like Brian McClaren, Lauren Winner, & a number of other big names. Brian spoke lastnight & was pretty good (if you're into theological conferences). Overall, though, I was bummed & even a little frustrated.

Don't get me wrong... I love Bob, I'm excited about what Brian & Lauren & the others are doing, & the content was really very good. But I was frustrated at the way the content was handled & presented. Everything was so theoretical & academic. It was like watching a documentary on the hidden life of dirt. Not what you'd hope for when your talking about living the full Christ-life amidst one the most dramatic changes in world culture since the Enlightenment!

Then I realized what this conference really was... It wasn't for me. In fact it wasn't for any postmodern personality at all! It was a conference on postmodernity presented for the sake of moderns. And "The Call", as fantastic as its content really is, is presented in a form that will likely appeal to only Moderns as well. Even in the opening statements lastnight, Hans Boersma indicated that striving for Christian unity meant reuniting with Rome (i.e. Catholicism) & Orthodoxy. But the hidden assumption there is a Modernity assumption... that Christian unity means institutional unity.

My wife tuned out after about 15 minutes. I stayed for the end of Brian's presentation & headed home before the next section of the evening. I felt like I had showed up at a black-tie event in a tank-top & Tivas with my plastic-plate full of cheesy nachos... I obviously didn't belong.


Makeesha said...

awee...that's a shame. did they market it to moderns?

Makeesha said...

that sounded silly - that's not really what I meant. Did they gear the advertising and word everything in a way that would draw postmoderns or moderns?

John Lynch said...

I know, right?!

I didn't think about the publicity thing, Mak, but I think it was actually fairly late in coming & aimed mostly to established churches & seminaries. The room was amost 100% white (@ 200 people) & mostly people in their 40's-60's... with a handful in their 20's & 30's (mostly students at the seminary that was hosting the event).

I did hear that yesterday Aaron Flores gave a great presentation on "trans-cultural" vs. "multi-cultural", but also that the mono-cultural modernity crowd wasn't sure how to receive what he gave.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this was really a theology conference for educating minds. To that end, I trust it will bear some solid fruit that will be passed on in the various educational circles represented. Knowing Bob & these other figures, however, I'm sure there are layers & layers of good stuff in this event that I'm simply not seeing.

John Lynch said...

Bobby Brewer's got a great post that captures what I'm feeling on this issue...