I’ve stumbled across or been directed to these links via friends. They are well worth the read, so I thought that I would share them with you for your reading enjoyment.
- ‘The Death of Sunday Christianity‘. Mick Turner’s post over at the methoblog suggests that the demise of Christendom is at hand for Western Christianity. He argues that the end of Christendom is marked by a ‘rich tapestry of theological transition’ that will give way to a new Reformation. A new Reformation that will yield a new Christianity that ‘comes in many forms and, in the long run, will appeal to a wide variety of spiritual seekers. It is difficult to accurately predict what the picture of the faith will be like twenty years from now, at least in the West. Whatever forms eventually coalesce and move forward, we can be sure, however, won’t be the “Sunday-go-to-meeting” variety of Christianity that dominated the past century. In and of itself, that is a step in the right direction.’ I don’t agree with all that Mick has to say, and much of what he says is not new, but his post does have me thinking. If the death of Sunday Christianity is afoot, what will the future of Christianity look like? What will supplant the Sunday-go-to-meeting variety of Christianity? Will the alternative be an improvement? Or will it present an understanding of faith that is equally flawed?
- Heather Hahn’s article ‘Moratorium, study urged on online communion’ at UMC.org. United Methodists gathered last week to discuss online communion. The conversation interested me for a few reasons. First, online churches are popping up left and right. In many instances the online campus exists for practical reasons, e.g. to make church more accessible, to minister to shut-ins, et cetera. Not surprisingly, practical concerns have tended to drive the formation of said campuses, while theological reflection regarding ecclesiological matters has lagged behind. An example being the sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist, two things which are forgone conclusions for most Evangelicals in a more traditional brick-and-mortar setting; but whose place in an online environment has not really been considered or discussed at length. (Of course, practically speaking, it can be accomplished. But does the experience of communion and/or baptism in an online setting reflect what we believe, theologically, is going on as we engage in these outward expressions of faith?) Second, the argumentation that has been employed is interesting. As an outsider looking in (via Twitter), I found a number who were in favor of the observance of the Eucharist in an online setting employing an argument from history. Namely, it was suggested that the online observance of communion is similar to John Wesley’s use of open air venues for preaching. In other words, as Christians who care deeply for those who do not yet know Christ, we must do all that we can––even if it means becoming more vile, as Wesley noted regarding open air preaching––that the Gospel might be proclaimed. I find this line of argumentation interesting, especially as Wesley was content with submitting to become more vile with regard to preaching, yet as he remained relatively unmoved with regard to his belief that communion was to take place in a parish church under the examination and consecration of a parish priest/pastor. Third, United Methodists are not going to be the only ones having this conversation. Other denominations are sure to follow, especially if the online church supplants the brick-and-mortar gathering as the go-to-Sunday-meeting.
- ‘Rethink Children’s Church’. Rebecca Garrett, in her post at Rethink Bishop, makes an interesting plea. She suggests that Children’s Church is not babysitting or playtime, but that it should be viewed as worship. In particular, she suggests that it should be an environment in which kids can worship and engage with God in age-appropriate way. To that end she pleads that we create an environment in which we: 1) celebrate holy noises; 2) celebrate dance; 3) give children permission to participate; and 4) embrace the unpredictability of children. Rebecca’s post has raised some questions. Questions that I’m sure to ponder and wrestle with as I begin my exploration of the Sticky Faith Launch Kit: Your Next 180 Days Toward Sticky Faith and its accompanying resources.
- Religion News Services’ interview with Malcolm Gladwell regarding his return to faith while writing David and Goliath.
- PRWeb has an interesting piece on an upcoming Covert Messiah Conference in London and one of the conference’s presenters Joseph Atwill, who will be appearing before the British public for the very first time to defend his book’s (Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus) thesis: ‘the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ.’ I find the piece fascinating, not because I find Atwill’s argument particularly compelling, but because: a) there are many outside of Christianity who are familiar with Atwill’s work and find his argument compelling; and b) there are many Christians who have no clue who Atwill is or that he is asserting that Jesus was a fabrication of Roman aristocrats who had a political agenda. Why does this matter? Why does this interest me? Because I think Christians need to be aware of these issues so that they can speak intelligibly about such matters.