Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding Faith by Flory and Miller.

I took a break from doing heavy lifting with history books and read a 2008 book on dominant trends within current evangelicalism based on a study by two sociologists of religion, Richard Flory and Donald E. Miller. Their book is called Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation. They are specifically interested in finding the religious or spiritual trends among the under 40 crowd. To do so, they spent two years interviewing 100 people and visiting a dozen significant congregations around the country.

They build their analysis around 4 types of trends or styles that they see among evangelicalism: what they call Innovators, Appropriators, Resisters, and Reclaimers. The innovators are represented by people like Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet, and, according to the authors, prefer smaller congregations with a high level of engagement with the larger community and social issues. The Appropriators are the large Mall type mega churches that offer hundreds of programming choices to the religious consumer. The Resisters are those who are critical of postmodernism and resistant to any accommodation to current cultural changes and who keep a strong focus on rational faith and careful exegesis of the scriptures and ultimately desire to move young people back to a rational, text-based faith. Finally the Reclaimers are those evangelicals who are leaving evangelical churches in order to associate with strongly liturgical churches such as the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Anglican. They are reclaiming the ancient traditions of worship of the early or Patristic church.

What do you think of these four types of response? Are there any responses that you might feel that they left out? Which response do you most identify with?

49 comments:

just joe said...

Both the Reclaimers and the Innovators place a high emphasis on what the authors call Embodied Spirituality: smells, art, visual icons, drama and experience as well as a high emphasis on community. The Appropriators place some emphasis on Embodied Spirituality and very little emphasis on community with the individual consumer at the heart of their paradigm. The Resisters are tend to be suspicious of Embodied Spirituality (Faith before Feelings) and other forms of experiential spirituality and have strong community with strong closed boundaries. The two authors are inclined to favor the Innovators possibilities for future growth. They see new forms of spirituality emerging which they name “Expressive Communalism.” Below are quotes:

“Thus, we believe that we are witnessing the emergence or a new form of spirituality, what we are calling "Expressive Communalism," that, although related to the individualist (p.188) forms of spirituality as described above, is also distinct from them. Post-Boomers have embedded their lives in spiritual com¬munities in which their desire and need for both expressive/ experiential activities, whether through art, music, or service-oriented activities, and for a close-knit, physical community and communion with others are met. These young people are seek¬ing out different forms of spirituality in response to the short¬comings they see as inherent in these other forms. They are seeking to develop a balance for individualism and rational asceticism through religious experience and spiritual meaning in an embodied faith" (p. 189).

steve H said...

I recognize some of these emphases, but I'm not personally connected to many that are specifically involved. The committed young people I deal with tend to have been raised in our circles or something similar. They tend to appreciate similar worship styles to that they grew up with. They put high value on close knit committed relationships. They do tend to be more oriented to serving outside the church.

I pray that they are or will be spiritually hungry to go beyond... in knowing God and in transformation into Christlikeness both as individuals and as a community.

just joe said...

Thanks for the new, and interesting, post, Joseph. I guess I feel like I've got a bit of all four types going on in me! The authors' choice of names for each group kinda gives the game away from the start, though: who would choose being tagged a "Resistor" instead of an "Innovator"! I'd like to learn more about why a "rational, text-based faith" seems like a bad idea: I get the limitations of "rational" as over against "embodied" (as long as "rational" gets to be part of "embodied"),but isn't "text-based," as in "Scripture-based," kind of a good idea?

Brian Emmet said...

So sorry--Joseph had been on my computer and didn't log himself out. The above comment is mine, not his!

Bruce said...

Help me out if I missed it, but I think the model leaves out those I'll call: "I ask nothing more of you, just be faithful unto death", or those who keep doing what they were doing anyway, and, here's the trick, being fruitful while doing it.
Some of them I would want to rearrange parts and call them the "Strengthen the Things That Remain" contingent.

steve H said...

I'd like to be in that group, Brian.

Bruce said...

Compare the four to these:
Canonic: those who emphasize what God has given us in an unembellished way.
Prophetic: those who emphasize the canonic in an embellished way.
Wisdomic: those who associate with the tradition but emphasize the practical wisdom of getting through without regard to how well it meshes with the fine points of the tradition
Heretic: nominalists who go by the name but innovate to their hearts content and give it the name that the canonics use for something entirely different in reality

Emerging spirituality seems to pretty well split down the middle between the last two. There are representatives of all four in scripture.

just joe said...

I want to point out that Flory and Miller are sociologists of religion who work at secular universities. Although there is no way of knowing their own religious perspective, they make it clear in the intro that they are not antagonistic to evangelicalism and to the contrary are sympathetic.

the reason I posted their types was because at least two or three of their categories are remarkably similar to some dynamics that one of the guys pointed out at the skunks retreat last weekend.

I think a 5th category are churches who are just not yet engaging postmodern culture ... perhaps because they have few participants in their congregations who are between 20 an 40. I also think there are churches (like Kevin Davenport's) who are a combination of 2 or 3 of the types.

The main thing I got out of the book is that adults between the ages of 20 to 40 are more likely to look for depth of relationships and community that high powered programing. Dr. John Norton and Erica are exhibit A. Flory and Miller call this desire "expressive community"

just joe said...

I forgot to mention that the book is published by Rutgers University Press -- an academic, not a religious publisher. I have come to realize that there are sociologists and anthropologists that are watching and studying evangelicalism, pentecostalism and others forms of American Christianity.

Bruce said...

Et tu, Joe? I am, for a limited time only, offering to send a pdf of my secular academic dissertation "Practice Makes Perfect: Christian Education Viewed As Intiation into a Practice" free of charge to the first, oh, 450 requests received before my mood changes.

The first dozen requests will receive a happy face emoticon GRATIS in the email. So don't delay and accept no substitutes.

Which raises another point. i know education theory and I know sociology and philosophy, and I know theology. My quibble (if it's only a quibble) with emerging and other popular writers is that they are weak on theology, which is not much more than reading the Bible carefully (when done well). Even when they are sincere and work hard and are personally disciples. That makes them good to watch but not good to listen to their words. At least with the Pharisees, we were told to do what they said but not what they do; and then not to follow those whose ministries bore bad fruit even if the theology is good.

just joe said...

Bruce, I’ll take a copy: send it to me at josenmiami@yahoo.com. Thanks!

In Flory and Miller’s discussion of the fourth type, Reclaimers, they point out on page 136 that reclaimers tend to be fairly well educated, college and often masters level, and are seeking to integrate their intellectual and spiritual lives. The authors point out that this desire to reunite the mind and the heart is found as a predominant characteristic of three of the four types and among reclaimers, works itself out as the rediscovery of ancient Christian teachings and symbols and was evident in some of the early writing of Willard and Foster about classic Christian disciplines.

The authors find five primary characteristics of the reclaimers: First, an attraction to the visual elements of liturgy; second, a desire for a stronger connection to the larger history of Christianity; third, a desire for a small religious community; fourth, a commitment to a stricter spiritual regimen, including confession and spiritual disciplines; and finally, a desire for religious absolutes and a set social structure (p. 137).

Flory and Miller interviewed an Episcopal Priest named Father Baumann who told of a number of young people, ages 18 to 23, who had joined his church over the last couple of years. They were from Baptist, Assemblies of God, CMA and other evangelical and Pentecostal backgrounds. When he asked some of them why they were attracted to his church, one girl, a sophomore in college said that she was “fed up with the seeker-friendly Willow Creek movement,” and had been deeply impressed by the Orthodox liturgy on a missions trip to Russia (p. 139.

One of the things I had been thinking about before reading this book, was to look into some kind of Book of Common Prayer for our scripture topics in our Tuesday night God-party. We tend to be all over the place in our discussion of biblical themes. I am thinking through ways that we can practice “embodied spirituality” in our 20-something community of seekers.

I have to confess that when I was doing ethnographic research on Catholicism in Brazil and Colombia, I found the Catholic liturgy increasingly attractive and inspiring.

Bruce said...

Thanks for the expansion. I like great cathedrals, ornate chapels, etc., so I'm probably 80% there on #1, and 100% there on 2-5. But being called a "reclaimer" seems to be a way of defusing the message on the part of those who think everything is fine just as it is. And for people into these points, from the heart, the desire for them pretty easily slides into party spirit (fragmentation), or an individualistic following of where "The Spirit is blowing these days", hiding their rebellion and lack of loyalty behind idealistic language.

Of course, people would feel better in the short run in those reclaimers would just go away and do something on their own. Reminds me of how much more comfortable things would be if someone would just pull the plug on granny and put "her" out of her misery.

That's why Athanasius is one of my heroes. And William Wilberforce.

Brian Emmet said...

Bruce, I really didn't follow you on granny, Athanasius and Wilberforce! I've not read the Flory and Miller book, but it should be noted that they are attempting to describe "what is" rather than "what should be". We may disagree about their typology or titles for each type, but it's hard to disagree that they have, roughly, catalogued the landscape of current American evangelicalism.

I think one of the positive contributions of postemodernism is the idea that we're all situated somewhere (as over against the modernist myth of the detached "neutral" observer, the "man from nowehere"). This blade cuts several ways, and, for Christians, it prompts us to consider that a poor, illegal Hispanic woman may read the Bible differently than a white, middle-class male like me. Doesn't make her right and me wrong; doesn't make me right and her wrong, either. We do not need to buy into the error that "everything is solely a matter of perspective" in order to gain from the postmodern critique of, among other things, "Christendom" or "Christianity" as we [and who, exactly, constitutes that 'we'?]have understood these terms.

John M. said...

Brian, I like what you just said. Good insight. Helpful observations.

just joe said...

well said Brian. Did you guys like my little cartoon?

One group that they left out are young evangelicals that have dropped out of church entirely. Perhaps even in some cases the faith. Their research methodology involved visiting churches ... which obviously leaves out the fastest growing religious category (non affiliated).

This week we had a young man start coming to our god-party who grew up in our Spanish speaking church. Since he left the church, roughly at 18, he became a committed atheist.

Bruce said...

To clarify, because Brian asked, I think.
Reclaimers would stay in one place and bring back the things that have been covered up. They become a nuisance, and if they press the issue, they become a big nuisance. The best way to handle a nuisance is to get rid of them, or if not the best, the most attractive. Hence when granny is old and in the way, we are tempted to pull the plug; if all the with-it guys in the church are Pelagian, then it's Athanasius contra mundum (and let's get rid of him). Wilberforce in the political realm hit people in their wallets about the slavery issue, imposing his private religious beliefs on the business community until his movement did away with slavery.
That was my thought. Just trying to stay encouraged to follow the Lord rather than every other voice and pressure out there. It's shaky out there, y'know? Nothing nasty implied.
Maybe I could read the book, maybe. It's sounding helpful.

Bruce said...

Good point Brian, re: identity-located readings of scripture. Then we have to take our Bible reading back to our private studies to see if those variant understandings are in fact valid for the church to learn from or if they are merely private encouragements for those groups. Cretans are lazy gluttons, y'all. (I'm glad I wasn't the one to say that.)

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Bruce: I get "granny" now! And yes, Jose, on the folks who wouldn't show up on Miller and Flory's radar because they're not "in churches."

I like the idea--not sure where it comes from--of Scripture as "a conversation" among several discrete voices and communities. (I continue to affirm Scripture as the inspired Word of God, so I don't think I'm heading off the reservation here). James, for example, doesn't disagree with Paul, but James does notice and focus on some things differently than Paul... and we have been given by the Spirit four Gospels that don't quite "harmonize" in the ways we want them to, instead of one "harmonized Gospel" (despite all the well-intentioned attempts to create gospel harmonies). The "plain meaning of Scripture" isn't always as "plain" as we'd like it to be, or think that it is.

So we are each accountable before Scripture, and we are all accountable: we can't retreat into a privatized here's-what-it-means-to-me approach, nor can our traditions of interpretation provide infallible guides... hmmm, maybe we're just stuck with ongoing conversation, communion, disagreement, refining, praying together...

Bruce said...

Amen, Bri.

As they say about good writing applies to reading the Bible: Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

(We want the truth, not comfortable pat answers.)

just joe said...

Good Sunday morning to you all. Let’s have some fun and stir up the conversation.

Last night I sat down and re-read chapter 4 in “Finding Faith” on the “resisters” a little more carefully. As I re-read it, I found a lot of similarities between their description of the resisters biblical and cultural perspectives and our own. I am reflecting on this today and I wondered if you all might want to join me in this reflection. I think it is occasionally helpful to be a bit self-critical in our attempts to be salt and light to our culture. I have posted about half of the chapter 4 on the Resisters as a google doc if you would like to read it in context. You might need an invitation from me to access it: Flory and Miller chapter 4 google doc

Here are some characteristics of the “resister” approach (according to Flory and Miller) that might apply to us:

There is a hierarchical view of traditional authority:
The issue of traditional ideas of authority in the church is one that seems to permeate the entire Resister opposition to postmodernism and to its influence in the Christian church. The language used throughout the Resister arguments seems intended to establish an expert system that functions as a defense for their particular understanding of Christianity, which is always framed as "historical," or "orthodox," and with the Resisters themselves as the credentialed philosophers and the¬ologians able to determine this, and thus, the authoritative arbiters of the only appropriate approach to Christian theology and belief. (p. 109)

There is a conscious intention of establishing a pre-dominant rational-Christian world view
“the goal being to establish the rationality of Christianity not only as important for the spiritual lives o Christian believers, but so as to make Christianity somehow respectable in the larger culture, and ultimately to restore "Christian worldview" to its rightful, authoritative place American culture” (p. 110).

There a element of fear:
The general pattern in this is to capitalize on a preexisting concern or fear among Christian believers, most often having to do with personal and social-moral issues, and in particular a concern for their children and the cultural environment in which they are growing up, and then to suggest those persons, worldviews, perspectives, etc., that are responsible for the bad state of affairs. Most of this is typical culture wars positioning— straw man arguments about the "enemy," and then explanations of how a Christian worldview is superior to any other world-view, particularly in terms of its rational consistency and the kinds of behavior and moral actions (p. 111).

There is a belief that right actions derive from right beliefs:
We hear repeatedly from Resisters, "belief is the engine that drives behavior. The best way to cure wrong action is to identify wrong beliefs" (Geivett 2006, 7). Yet at another level, it is about elevating "rational Christianity" to a competitive level in the "marketplace of ideas," with the goal of having "the Christian worldview" dominant in culture, which would then determine the kinds of laws, families, and even science that is appropriate in American culture. (pp. 112-113).

There is an antagonistic and adversarial attitude toward modern culture:
“Phillip Johnson regularly says that his program is "at war with the modern culture. We do not want to 'get along' with materialism, secularism, naturalism, post-modernism, radical feminism, or spiritual¬ism." In fact, from Reynolds's perspective "history is going the wrong way. Yuk. We are reactionaries and proud of it." (p. 115).

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Joseph, for orgainizing, hosting and providing a lot of specific content from the book for this discussion!

Do Flory and Miller give Resisters any props for anything, or are they the bad guys of their tale? The question of authority, for example, is a good one, and I'm not as sure as I once was that the resister postion gets it right... but I would like a clearer idea of what the other options might be.

steve H said...

Gee! By this description I am both close to and far from being a Resister.

Michael said...

Joe,
Thanks for sharing this book with us. It probably is worth reading. I find myself more at odds with the mentality of the resistors, but would probably be good friends with them. It seems safe to be a resistor in one sense because everything is clearly defined and figured out. We have the Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures that is all we need.
It concerns me that the underlying motivations mentioned is fear and that the Resistors have developed an intellectual grid that they use to filter through everything they read and then assess others as either "in" or "out" based on this grid. I believe they lay it over the scriptures and it begins to read the way they believe versus being challenged by what they read. (I am sure we all do this.) To me a clear example of this is Justification. Another example for me is the book "The Shack" and the reaction it has created.
I believe that the story or account (whatever it is, I believe it happened) of Jesus with Nicodemus can help us. Nicodemus was stuck with seeing his world in a certain way. A whole theology over the 400 intertestment years had been created that entrenched the Jewish religion into codes and creeds that saw sin as out there, not in them. It viewed the world at odds with them and consequently something that had to be resisted not redeemed by a gracious and loving God. Jesus gets to the heart to the matter and says to Nicodemus if you really want to see what I am up to, you have to be born again. For Nicodemus or any good Jew being born into the Hebrew family and having a strong Hebrew lineage, meant you were part of the chosen who were in Covenant with God. You were “in”, everyone else was “out”. Jesus was telling Nicodemus and us that if you wanted to see clearly what He was up to, your natural birth will not get you there, matter of fact it will keep you from seeing clearly what I am up to. You will even think you are doing God's will by resisting my efforts. It is during this whole conversation that we get John 3:16 where Jesus makes it clear to Nicodemus that God loves the whole world, and that He has sent his son to redeem it, not condemn it.
Jesus was trying to move Nicodemus out of His entrenched view to something larger, wider, and deeper, it was his purpose for the whole world, for those who were "out" for those who didn't fit into the grid they had created.
I have probably gone to far a field with this, but to me the mentality of the resistors reminds me of this attitude and approach. I believe there is whole bunch of christians that need to be born again, and I put myself right there as one of them.

just joe said...

I think in their schema, the resisters are kind of the bad guys. But as in all things, there is a continuum, … One could be a resister out of simple conviction, without fear, a hierarchical view of authority or an antagonistic attitude toward current culture. To me, it is these secondary attitudes that are more the problem than the theological position. Also, one could be a combination of resister, innovator and reclaimer. I think both you (Steve) and Brian have a lot of the reclaimer in you.

Thirty years ago our movement was primarily innovators (small groups, personal pastoring, ecumenicism with Catholics, discipleship, community, new approaches to worship, scripture songs. etc).

My concern is the tendency to go “transitive” to use Mumford’s term, or to become antagonistic and to respond to cultural fear.

just joe said...

or is it "intranstive"? Not sure I have the term right. Basically, it means to turn inward. By-the-way, we had the first meeting of our second "god-party" tonight... seven people attended, one of them for the first time. Off to a good start!

Michael said...

Joe,
To me the key is fear. I see it so often in conservative christianity. A world view rooted in fear leads to control. The more we can keep things in line (thru rules) the more assured we are of the outcome.

Bruce said...

intransigent

John M. said...

In regard to the current discussion how does the phrase, "strengthen the things that remain" fit?

The "Granny" issue is to real at our house...

Brian, some of your comments about scripture sound like "The Blue Parakeet" book...

Joseph, is the second God party a "plant" from the
Tues. group, or are you starting from scratch with the second group?

just joe said...

Bruce: no, it is not "intransigent" -- it is a grammer word, like an "intransitive" verb meaning "focused inward upon itself" rather than focused outward. I'll look it up.

John: the core of this new group are from our Tuesday party, but are academics rather than Mikey and Ruth's friends.

Michael: I'm sorry, I missed your contribution -- we must have posted at the same time. Michael, you said it so much better than I could. I believe our historical movement has elements of the innovators, reclaimers and resisters ...mixed together. We have tried to do the "appropriators" unsuccessfully (thank God).

My point in emphasizing these types is that it could valuable to be "intentional" about examining the variouis responses and attitudes that go with them, and being more deliberate about designing our response to post-modernity, in ways that are culturally effective, but faithful to our scriptural convictions.

By-the-way, Scot McKnight posted an EXCELLENT piece on the "toxic combination of modernity and post-modernity" today called "The Self in a Castle."

Brian Emmet said...

Anais Nin--not generally known for her Christian character--has a quote I like (and dislike): "We don't see things as they are; we things as we are." It's always easier to see how "that's exactly what they're doing!" instead of seeing how it's also exactly what I'm/we're doing as well. We can grant, for the sake of discussion, Miller and Flory's basically negative assessment of the resisters--we can "easily see" the "turf" and their puported "ownership" of it which they seek to defend, in the name of "faithfulness to God and His Word"; but we also need to apply the same scalpel to our own attitudes and motivations. We can see the cultural conditioned-ness and situated-ness of the resisters more clearly than we see our own. After all, much of the impulse behind what Barna has identified as the Revolution (Christians who are no longer part of any institutional/conventional church) is that those folks "don't like" those kinds of churches, or "don't experience God's Presence" in them... which ends up not being all that different from the folks who say things like, "I feel closer to God on the golf course (or fishing, hunting, or watching football) than I do in church." I'm not yet persuaded that the basic impulses are all that different, or that the non-resisters are "more authentically spiritual" than the resisters. Yes, that really is the claim made: this new way--these new ways--are truly better, more spiritual, more authentic, closer to Jesus and the apostles than all this inherited crap.

We have inherited a lot of religious crap. But when your dog has swallowed you car key, separating the key from the crap is not as neatly and deftly done as we wish or pretend. The first thing you have to do is wait... and watch... and then the fun begins!

steve H said...

Wow! What a word picture that is, Brian.

just joe said...

well said, Bri... remember, the reason I brought this up at all because one of our guys noticed similar categories of responses (to Innovators and Resisters and one other category) within our own circles ... so I think it is a worthwhile exercise sort through the crap looking for the keyes...especially since we have many years ahead of us to innovate, adapt or appropriate, resist and reclaim the cultural changes around us ...

Michael said...

Brian,
I am sure it is easier being a critic than a help. And I certainly like working on the speck in someone elses eye than the log in my own.

As for the key analogy (I like the analogy, but if I am going to dig through crap I want some gloves), I wonder what some of the crap is that we have to dig through to find the key or keys?

Brian Emmet said...

Mike, I'm with you on the gloves!

Let's not use my earthy metaphor too far--it was a toss-off, so let's not let it stink up the joint too much. I actually think the part about the need to wait and watch may be the most helpful part: it's just awfully hard to get a good read on very much in the "now"--history always has a way of changing how something looks. We need to live and act in the now, but can only do so with the kind of great confidence that comes from great humility and fear-of-the-Lord.

Not meaning to dodge your question, Michael, which is a good one. I'd change the metaphor, borrowing one from Eugene Peterson: we are needing to "rebuild," but we are actually rebuilding using the "ruins" of an earlier way of life. What ancinet stones should go where in whatever kind of building God wants us to construct? Which stones find new uses, neew places? Does what was once a capstone now get hidden below ground in a fresh foundation, and does what was once hidden in the basement wall now become part of the arch over a new entryway?

just joe said...

Max Weber, the father of modern sociology and the guy who wrote "The Protestant Work-Ethic and the Spirit of the Disciplines" also developed an analytical technique using what he called "Ideal-Types": types which really didn't exactly exist in reality in pure form but could be useful as general categories allowing one to more easily analyze social dynamics. For example, there probably weren't many people who EXACTLY fit his ideal-typical category of the Calvinist entrepreneur businessman who drove himself to work hard, accumulate wealth, and not spend it in order to assuage his uncertainty about being part of the chosen "elect" destined for eternity in heaven. However, there were enough people who at least partly resembled that "ideal type" that the accumulated effect was to alter society, economics and history toward capitalism.

In the same way, Flory and Miller’s categories of innovator, appropriator, reclaimer and resister are all ideal-types that may not actually exist in large numbers in the pure form in reality. The truth is most people unique mixtures of at least two or three of the categories.

Nevertheless, the generalizations can be helpful for us for analytical purposes. We all need to "resist" some things, the devil, worldly carnality, temptation, etc. But the overall paradigm the authors are describing have a certain complex of theological and social attitudes toward current culture and reason that may or may not be helpful in the mission dei. It is useful for us to consider this complex of characteristics, especially in so far as it pertains to our own paradigms and the world views of people we are leading.

We DO have a responsibility to lead the people of God through this massive cultural sea-change ... not an easy task. Hence the need to have these extensive conversations -- at least for me.

I already find that people I have been connected to for almost a life-time are in many cases headed in a totally different direction than me and on an entirely different boat (switching analogies), mostly because we are in different social contexts and have different information sources. Whatever of the 4 "types" that most characterizes my own response (or none of them) I find that, in this season, I MUST be guided by love and faith, not fear or a combative attitude. I MUST be a peacemaker, not one sounding a trumpet for battle. Perhaps that is just reflective of a stage of life that I am in, or my particular life-circumstances. I do understand that there may be a time for battle (I'm going to check Ecclesiastes on that) – I just don’t think it is helpful in our mission at this specific time.

Do you all want to dwell some more on the resisters? Or shall we move on to either innovators or appropriators, or alternatively, move on to a new topic?

Brian Emmet said...

It's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"--you're conflating Max Weber and Dallas Willard! Yikes!

The 4 type-typology has some interesting parallels in Jesus' day (this from Eugene Peterson's book "The Jesus Way"). In Jesus' times, there were four basic ways, or "types", of being Jewish: the Sadduccees represented the go-along-to-get-along, or accommodationist, approach. The Essenes represented a withdrawal, to-hell-with-them! posture. The Pharisees were all about God-is-waiting-for-us-to-show-how-serious-we-are-about-Torah-observance-and-then-he'll-act; the Zealots felt that God was waiting for them to show that they were serious about Him by slitting some Roman throats. The parallels aren't exact, but they are suggestive of four basic or typical responses to the challenges we face, and mirror Niebuhr's four types of Christ's relationship to culture.

Michael said...

Not sure why the discussion started with the resistors, maybe that says something about us. Maybe it is easier to critique them, not sure.

Whether we are digging through doo-doo (never had to spell that before) or sorting through rubble, or sifting through conflicting messages, we are going to have to land somewhere. But whether it is sifting, sorting, rebuilding, or digging, we have to have an idea what we are looking for. Would we know we have found the key if we had it in our hand? Or becuase we were looking for something else or thought we knew what we were looking for, we missed what God had meant us to find.

I think the resistors are right to be concerned, but because the have always argued in terms of culture and christianity's influence within the culture they are arguing the same point with different words. They can't see a different way out. In my not so humble opinion they are missing the key.

I believe it was the same with the disciples. Until the ressurection and even after, they couldn't see a way out. It was always the old argument of restoring Israel to its political dominance.

The cross, the kingdom, Christ's bodily ressurection, and the outpouring of the HS changed all of that. I believe these are the same keys that will change us again, regardless of how it looks today.

just joe said...

wow... you are right Brian... that is a big conflation...

Michael very well said. I like the analogy with the disciples and the restoration of Israel. Just a point of clarity, we actually began above with the reclaimers ...although we did not give them as much attention.

Brian Emmet said...

Would it help to notice the points at which we think each of the four types "gets it right" in some significant way?

just joe said...

yes, I think that would be excellent. And then we could also go through the four responses and find the weaknesses to be avoided without the danger of being perceived as falling into biases and becoming polarized with one another in our conversation.

just joe said...

New article posted on Billy Long's "OUT OF THE BOX" blog:
His Purpose Will Prevail

steve H said...

Billy's article is excellent, as usual. I recommended this one to the people in our fellowship.

just joe said...

yes, he is sometimes reluctant to do humor, because he is so good at it, people often pigieon hole him as a comedian and forget the deep well of wisdom and inight he also has.

Brian Emmet said...

So Joseph, get us going, perhaps under a new post. Select one of the four types, give us a brief overview/summary, and then let's get after it as discussed just above. Doable?

just joe said...

does anyone have the book besides me?

Brian Emmet said...

Uh, not me, not yet...

just joe said...

Bruce: it is "intransitive": an adjective that has no direct object. The opposite of "transitive" which does have a direct object.

Mirriam-Webster Online

I think Mumford was using it to describe a spiritual condition that is "centripetal," turning in toward one's own subjectivity rather than outward toward an object. Something like the religious leaders of the Jews at the time of his incarnation, or the Jewish leaders just before the captivity.

by-the-way, I posted chapter three on "Appropriators" on a google doc and sent you invitations to edit it. You can actually insert notes into the document with your name and italics or a different color like I did. As soon as I have heard that two or three of you have read it, we can start a new discussion thread. Have a great labor day weekend!

Brian Emmet said...

Read it; didn't realize could comment in-text, so will get back to that.

Bruce said...

I thought Bob must have been talking about our becoming unteachable, or intransigent.