Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Next Thing

The following comes from my favorite section of my favorite periodical, First Things. The section, While We're At It, consists of short "clippings" from books, other periodicals, etc. I have compressed the following item considerably, so if you'd like the full text, visit the May 2008 issue of First Things, p. 69, or visit firstthings.com.

Part of the vitality, and the vacuity, of evangelical Protestantism is the unending and frenetic search for "the next thing." Whether it produces more vacuity than vitality is a disputed question. It is a question addressed in Telford Work's critique of Reformed and Always Reforming by Roger Olson... The next thing, the newest thing, the coming thing, according to Olson, is "postconservatism." Good riddance to conservatism, which is marked by "slavish adherence" to an "incorrigible" tradition. Let's replace it with theology as "a pilgrimage and a journey rather than a discovery and conquest" ... The sad fact is, says Work, "from political activism to the church-growth movement to the allegedly postmodern 'emerging church,' evangelicals are borrowing more than ever from late modern liberalism." Once again, the excited discovery of "the next thing" turns out to be the result of rummaging through a pile of discards in the used theology shop.