In the world of faith, I find the rigid dogmatism, and insular arrogance of conservative fundamentalism stifling. When I encounter people, who are sure of everything they say think they haven’t really done any research. There is no true dialog, just people trading acceptable answers to fulfill the expectations of their community. At first progressive evangelicals felt like a breath of fresh air. There was a broader acceptance of mystery, nuanced biblical interpretation, a humbler epistemology, and a greater appreciation for the deeper Christian tradition.
Though freeing, it was ultimately unsatisfying. Deconstructed belief systems aren’t so easy to put back together. Faith is a delicate thing that weaves emotions, community, experiences, and theology. While abusive systems, rigid hierarchies, and unbiblical leadership cultures need to be re-examined and rejected there always something valuable that goes away when we reject all that we’ve inherited.
At the end of the day we still need to believe in something, and no philosophy of life is free of inconsistencies because life is ultimately a mystery. We still need to make a go of it, so we need to plant our flag somewhere.
The postmodern lens views the world in two spectrums: power and oppression. If we take this an apply it to the church, we can see plenty of both through history. We can see it now we pastors flying private jets, hucksters promising miracles for donations and authoritarians squelching dissent in their communities. It makes sense that people who have been mistreated will be apprehensive about putting themselves at risk again.
The postmodern lens ultimately fails us. Some leaders are more selfless than selfish. Not all who wield influence or power are oppressive. Some inherited systems have survived because they proved useful and effective overtime. Most of what we inherited worked well in a different time and different context but has lots suitability.
My next couple of posts will be on what I’ve learned, what I believe in, and why I think I’m ready to get back in to the mix of things.