Thursday, December 14, 2006


In yesterday's "A week with post" Graham Ward is speaking about how radical orthodoxy is to move from being an academic engagement to being worked out within the local church.

An interesting question was posed by my friend Drew, which was, "I wonder though, how do we get radical orthodoxy from the Church to the rest of the world?"

My response was that maybe RO's gift to the church is to help the church rediscover it's peculiar and unique culture and language thus empowering it to transform the world in a way that is truthful and faithful to the way of Christ.

As I was reading the methoblog I came across this post by Bishop Will Willimon on "Resisting the Clutches of Consumerism". In it I think he relates why passing on our unique "practices", "way of life", "liturgical language", and "unique identity" is SO VERY IMPORTANT. I apologize up front for posting so much of this but IT'S GOOD!!!

The immediate problem that confronts is that our church is accommodationist. Even though we know that there is a strong, critical strain in Wesleyanism against the evils of “riches,” we quickly learned in this society that there is no way to be a successful, responsible, public church, without submitting to the political vision that says that there is no greater purpose of human community than accumulation and aggrandizement.

For this reason, the “user friendly” approach to church won’t work. There is no way to entice people off the streets with hymns that are based on advertising jingles and end up with the cross-bearing, self-sacrificial, burden-bearing Jesus. Evangelism cannot be based upon our basic selfishness (“Come to Jesus and get everything you want fixed.”) and end up with anything resembling historic Christianity.

One of the reasons why Church is difficult is that the modern media culture (a culture which has no other purpose than giving us what we want, since “getting what we want” is the main purpose of life) has been so successful in forming us into such consumers.

In the middle of a sermon I said, “If you bring a child into this church, say a child of four or five, that child will have a difficult time during the service. Church does not come naturally. The child will have to be trained to sing this music, to bend his life toward these stories, to pay attention to that which he quite naturally avoids. If you take that same child into Toys R Us, no training is necessary. Greed comes to us quite naturally. After all, this is America.”

But then I caught myself in mid-sentence, and said, “No, that’s not quite fair to Toys R Us. Billions have been spent, and our very best talent expended, in forming that child into the habits of consumption. Barney is not innocent.”
(exerpt from Bishop Willimon's blog A PECULIAR PROPHET)

I think this exerpt captures why a "sensibility" such as Radical Orthodoxy is quite important for the church. There are many different narratives, and "practices" that arise out of those narratives, that form and shape who we are and how we see the world. Which narrative are we going to pass on to our children?

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