What I'm Doing

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

In every age the Holy Spirit calls the church to examine its faithfulness to God's revelation in Jesus Christ, authoritatively recorded in Scripture and handed down through the church. Thus, while we affirm the global strength and vitality of worldwide evangelicalism in our day, we believe the North American expression of evangelicalism needs to be especially sensitive to the new external and internal challenges facing God's people.

These external challenges include the current cultural milieu and the resurgence of religious and political ideologies. The internal challenges include evangelical accommodation to civil religion, rationalism, privatism, and pragmatism. In light of these challenges, we call evangelicals to strengthen their witness through a recovery of the faith articulated by the consensus of the ancient church and its guardians in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation, and the evangelical awakenings. Ancient Christians faced a world of paganism, Gnosticism, and political domination. In the face of heresy and persecution, they understood history through Israel's story, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of God's kingdom.

Today, as in the ancient era, the church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: Who gets to narrate the world? "The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future" challenges evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God's acts in history. The narrative of God's kingdom holds eternal implications for the mission of the church, its theological reflection, its public ministries of worship and spirituality, and its life in the world. By engaging these themes, we believe the church will be strengthened to address the issues of our day.
The rest of the "Call" can be read here: A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

In addition, an interview with Robert Webber, one of the "Conveners" of the Call is here: Together in the Jesus Story

One of my posts on the "backlog" is about the place of story in society. I suppose I'll reserve my own comments for that post. Now that Seth has linked to my blog, I've got a bit more motivation to actually get something worth reading up here...


seth said...

way to step up! glad you guys came out on sunday. it was fun, eh?

Anonymous said...

i read the entire article . . . wow! i'm not sure how to respond to it. i agree with it, but on the other hand while reading i was thinking to myself "yeah right! like that's gonna happen!" i try not to be cynical, but the article was, in my opinion, asking modern-day evangelicals to basically stop being themselves and join hands w/ the ancient church, which is considered apostate in many modern-day evangelical circles. however i am humbled to see that there are efforts to reunite the church as one and whole.

Anonymous said...

oops . . . forgot mi nombre.


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Anonymous said...

Check out:

Touchstone Magazine

Back & Forth to the Future
A Critical Symposium on A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future


Some highlights:

"If one radically edits the past before appropriating it, then it is no longer the past that one is appropriating, but a version of the present."

"I wish I didn’t have the feeling, reading this document, that I was reading about the roll-out of a self-consciously “retro” new-model car, a sort of ecclesiastical PT Cruiser, which thinks itself “ancient” because it can play Gregorian chant on its sumptuous audio system."

"At the end of the day, the “Ancient/Future” Evangelicalism is a natural extension of American Evangelicalism’s besetting sins of faddishness and consumerism. That’s the reason it is fanned (as so many Evangelical winds of doctrine are) by publishing houses. This project comes to us just as Evangelicalism is in the throes of an infatuation with the so-called emerging church, which is also fueled by publishing houses (the sellers of youth ministry curricula) and which is also enamored simultaneously with postmodern cynicism, egalitarianism, doctrinal flexibility, and ancient-seeming worship...The emerging worshipers and the ancient futurists want to borrow some of the trappings of a time when Christianity was countercultural (dark rooms and candles simulating catacombs, for instance) while embracing primary aspects of contemporary cultural libertarianism (including feminism and pluralism)...The roots of Halloween, we’re told, date back to a time when villagers sought to ward off evil spirits, witches, and ghosts by mocking them with mimicry. A bloodthirsty demon would retreat, it was thought, when he saw someone dressed in ghoulish costume. When reading documents such as A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future, it is hard not to wonder whether this is not what’s going on among these Evangelicals: keeping the ancient Christian witness at bay by mocking it with mimicry."

"If real antagonism exists between Evangelicalism and ecclesial Christianity, then why do born-again Protestants who desire historically grounded expression of the faith remain Evangelical? Why not simply join one of the other communions that guard ancient Christianity? One suspects that the reason has something to do with the advantages of being rootless. Without an Evangelical identity, a born-again Protestant would have to choose one of those other traditions, join it, and reject the others. With an Evangelical identity, he can take the best from all Christian expressions without having to come under the discipline and restraint of a particular church’s ministry, authority, and tradition. If this is so, then the Evangelical future called for in this statement is more modern than ancient, because it is more voluntary than received, more liberated than restrained, more tolerant than exclusive. Without becoming part of a historic Christian communion, Evangelicalism’s ancient future will yield merely the trappings of antiquity minus its churchly substance."

"Throughout the Call, Protestants are blithely encouraged to leapfrog over 1,500 years of church history to recover some exceedingly vague and romantic model of the early Church. Although American Evangelicals are excoriated for their lack of historical consciousness (an argument one could certainly make), the statement’s own case is, in fact, strikingly ahistorical in its fanciful and selective invocation of the Church of the ancient Fathers."

pravoslavna said...

I specifically enjoyed the part about the "church catholic" in the CT's complete call on their site, instead of Catholic Church. I recite the Nicene creed everyday and I am pretty sure that it isn't worded the former way! As a convert to the Orthodox Church from Protestanism; just take a leap of faith and move if you want to worship in Spirit and Truth in the Faith of Jesus Christ. We are here and have been for 2000 years; Just bypass the Papsim that spawned you and move right on into the Orthodoxy. We are waiting for you...