I think we all need to "gather" together for a Workshop, more than a Seminar, on how to language our faith in an every changing culture. As many adaptive challenges, I don't think anyone is an expert in this subject. I've met some fellow disciples who are learning along with me how to talk to people in a Post-Christendom, Post-Church/Institutional and Post-modern culture. It seems to me that the more I think, the more I have written and studied this topic, the more questions I have and the more I need other voices to help me process this new world.
Part of my continuing kingdom work and academic journey is to learn the difference between pure pragmatism (all the "how to's) and theologizing (which is essentially open source theological exploration). The Main Issues that we as Jesus followers face today have to do with the fact that the world has changed and as people who live in the flow of Jesus following, we find ourselves increasing separated from culture. In many respects, we’ve lost our voice in cultural discourse. In some ways, our culture is like a poker game and we've been dealt out. We’ve lost our ability to communicate the world.
Let me say what I've experienced – the culture does not care about the Gospel. It knows the name "Jesus" – knows about God (though both pluralism and syncretism reigns). They don’t care about what happened in the 1st, 4th or 16th centuries. They don't know about the differences between the Great Awakening and the Great and powerful Oz. Much of the public doesn't even know who the VP is, much of what we as a nation are built upon (the USA is a Republic and not a pure, majority rules, Democracy), or what's really going on in the world beyond the home page of their smartphones and tablet computers. And what's happening while everyone is narcissitically distracted? The family is being redefined, transitions are happening in gender identification, and community is not being built upon shared values but entertainment. In many respects, it is ancient Rome redux, "Bread and circus" and, as author John Kavanagh writes, choice reigns! We live in a "carnivalesqe" culture of self-promotion, popularity idolization, and superficiality. The language of culture is narcissistic, consumeristic, secularistic, and leaning toward relativistic truth-telling – everyone sees himself or herself as the center of the universe. WE are ruled more by brands, whether it is the brand of Obama, Corporations, NFL, Google, and even the NSA, than we are by aspects of real humanity. In addition, Globalization and the rubric of acceptance without judgment or polarization reigns. Spiritually has been individualistically redefined. Knowledge has been replaced by experience. Truth has been replaced by pluralism and relativism (because you can’t believe something that offends anyone). And most definitely, the stories of our bible are NOT known by anyone. We are losing the battle for cultural attention. Losing a place in public discourse. And the Culture has convinced Jesus followers that talking about faith is abusive or bigoted or not sensitive.
So, as a result we have seen a massive resurgence in the privatization of faith. Usually in the past, privatization was a staple, reserved and preserved by more stoic denominations (ethnically organized in their formative stages in the 19th century). In the skyscraper landscape of conversations occuring at any given moment, you'd be shocked to know that not too many people are talking about Jesus.
So, revisiting this issue is important to me! I've made some new friends who feel as I do. There are a number of us attempting to do more than have language that only insiders understand. We are attempting to up the ante and invest ourselves in real time investigation relationally in addressing this issue. Below is my original "Langugaing the Faith" article that I posted over a year ago. All I can say now is, "who's in?" And how do we continue the conversation about finding again our place at the table of cultural discourse for the purpose of Kingdom influence in love.