Seven Components of a New Reformation (Part 2)
This post continues the summaries began in the previous post.
4. Separation of theology and ideology
Over the past sixty years Christian theology has been fragmented into many ideology-driven paths. For example we have feminist, liberation, queer, environmental, black, social gospel, pacifist, postmodern and many more. These theologies explicitly embrace a human-derived ideology as their foundational organizing principle.
However, the invasion of ideology into Christian theology is far broader and deeper. For, when we investigate the work of Mainline Protestant denominations we find an almost perfect correlation in time and focus area between theological output and secular Progressive ideology. In fact it’s worse than that, because it is clearly secular Progressivism that sets the agenda for supposedly Christian denominational leaders.
This corruption of theology by human ideology has deeply undermined the credibility of Christianity, both for those inside and outside of the church. Although there will always be different theologies, we must find our way back to arguing about what the Bible teaches rather than how to align theology with human ideological movements.
5. Social and cultural engagement
Some Christians have proposed social and cultural isolation as the model, the most prominent example being The Benedict Option. While I too long for an ark into which to flee, the growth of the state in scope and power makes such a move impractical. Yes, the secular barbarians may continue to leave the Amish alone. But they will surely continue their assault on religious freedom with unabated vigor against the rest of the Church.
Our best hope is to reengage with the culture as unapologetic Christians. We should not try to create our own ghettoized sub-culture, but rather invade the institutions of entertainment, ideas, information and education. Yes, we will be hated and powerfully resisted. However, we must hold fast to the promise that God has made through the Gospel. I believe that throughout our institutions of cultural power there are people whose lives are empty of true hope and meaning. With God’s providential power as our source of confidence we can unashamedly make our case for Christ in the most hostile of domains. Even if we should fail in the near term, who can say what God will do in the long term with the fruits of this Christian cultural labor?
Through the Gospel we can offer true hope and renewal to a broken, darkened world. Let’s go forth with that faith, hope and love as our shield and sword.
6. Christ centered ecumenicalism
There will always be theological and denominational differences among Christians. However, if we can’t unite around a core set of beliefs we will continued to be divided and conquered by the secular world. We will also continue to be undermined internally by false teachers who leverage the unavoidable fact of doctrinal disagreement into “anything goes” theologies that deny and contradict Christ’s Gospel.
Perhaps it is the two “ecumenical creeds,” those being the Apostles and Nicene around which we can attempt such a unification. These creeds are already accepted by most denominations (I apologize to my Catholic and Orthodox friends for this generalized term). The point here isn’t to limit Christianity to its lowest common denominator, but rather to agree on a common set of essential beliefs that sit at Christianity’s core. By so doing we can find common ground upon which to fight back against the forces of secular tyranny and religious heresy that seeks to destroy Christianity.