Vanaf het moment dat de moderne wereld van zich liet horen is christelijke theologie in de verdediging geweest. Gaandeweg nam die verdediging steeds meer het karakter aan van crisismanagement. Steeds meer mensen vonden dat God niet incarneert, geen wonderen doet, en geen historische realiteit kan zijn. De bijbelse God werd alsmaar meer terrein ontnomen. De resulterende “God of the gaps” had steeds minder onverklaarbare zaken waar die garant voor kon staan en zo de toevlucht toe kon nemen.
I recently got interviewed by Clint Heacock from the MindShift Podcast about the deconstruction of my evangelical faith. Clint also asked me about the theological process involved and if there was any reconstruction after it all fell apart. I did retain something—or better, found something new—after all. It is called the theology of the cross.
By the way, the theologian I refer to but whose name eludes me (as always) during the interview is Justo L. González.
My friend, Dwaine Sutherland, was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) this weekend in Minnesota. I’ve known Dwaine for some years and from the first moment I met him in the library of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, I realized, by observing his body language and listening to his Southern accent, that he was not your typical Lutheran. Like me, he has a background in evangelicalism. This is the story of his struggle away from double predestination Calvinism toward becoming a Lutheran pastor. Congrats on your ordination Dwaine! May you be a faithful shepherd of God’s flock.
I have opened many sermons, preaching at congregations that had not met me before, with a humorous, “No I am not from Minnesota”. My southern accent does stand out and it is a novelty for some to hear the liturgy done with a Tennessee country accent. So, how did a small-town Tennessee boy end up as a Lutheran Pastor in the Midwest? I get this question quite often.
This article is the fourth and final installment of my series on evangelicalism. The central question is whether there is faith after evangelicalism and a theology to support it. Obviously, there is; there are post-evangelicals. If understood purely temporally, there are a lot of people who once were evangelical but are now “post,” i.e. “after.” They’re done. It is also obvious that there are plenty of post-evangelical theologians when we understand the “post” in post-evangelical temporally. I happily call myself a post-evangelical theologian in that sense. I once was able to dig the gig and then I couldn’t and then I didn’t. I became “post.”
A few years ago, I saw a post on Facebook that asserted that what makes Christianity stand out from other religions is that Christian have a personal relationship with God. It irked me and I was ready to fire off a response but I stopped with my fingers hovering over the keyboard. There was no point in getting broiled in yet another fruitless Facebook dispute.
This article was published a few years ago as two shorter articles at Relevant.com.
Waking Up to A Non-Christian World
We live in weird times. Almost every day we are shell-shocked with news about terrorist attacks and the international export of islamic terrorism through ISIS’ worldwide network. While we ask ourselves where all this is going, some politicians tell us we can no longer trust our muslim neighbor. They also tell us we should build walls to protect us from villains crossing our southern border. And as we wonder what to make of such calls, we are surprised to find evangelical leaders rallying in support of those that make these claims, all in name of the culture war we’re engaged in as Christians.
Today I will tell a little more about what I want with this blog. It is my hope to initiate an impietist tradition. As you can perhaps guess, impietism is something like the opposite of pietism, the well-known movement of personal devotion and sincerity of faith within 18th century Lutheranism. In truth, the difference is actually more subtle, since the Pietists got a couple things right. My impietism is intended for the degenerate, for those who feel like they are un-born-again. So let’s have a little impietist talk.
The Apostle John tells us that before Jesus was arrested he prayed the following words, part of a longer prayer: “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. (…) so that they may be brought to complete unity.” What has come of Jesus’ prayer?
The unity Jesus prays for is connected to both the unity that he and the Father have and to the task that is set before the believers (“Then the world will know that you sent me”). In theological parlance this means that unity is connected with the Trinitarian nature of God (that is, God as a trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit) as well as the mission of God, the so-called missio Dei in the world.
The death of Jesus Christ has been an occasion for theologians and philosophers to speculate about the end of God. With Jesus’ death on the cross, God died and this is the end of God’s story. Jesus is the end of God. But then there is Easter. It is part of the narrative of Jesus Christ and as such cannot be ignored. Resurrection belongs to this narrative. Death of God theologians have trouble integrating this into their theologies.
However, even on the basis of the resurrection we ought to conclude that Jesus signals and acts out God’s end. Here is how this works. In this short piece, I will first side with the theologians and philosophers who have concluded that religion has ran its course and that after its demise, can only signal God’s end. Then, I will argue, that when we abandon self-constructed God-talk we open ourselves to understand the true meaning of God’s end. In Jesus, we find the true meaning of this end.
In my previous post, I discussed my experience in evangelicalism and focused on four things that were instrumental in pushing me out. These four were: the hunger for power, the lack of freedom to ask questions, the inability to deal with suffering an lament, and the know-it-all attitude that places evangelical thought on a pedestal. These four things describe the environment as it was and why I started to feel more and more uneasy. They eventually became objections too.