Monday, January 7, 2008

The Gospel and Culture and Wesley's Tradition

I came upon Philip Yancey's article today reflecting on Wesley's view of culture. I agree with Yancey that we need to order our desires and not exclude legitimate ones. And it is exactly these kinds of pieces that need to be written in an evangelical sub-culture that excludes the entailments of Scripture, excludes nature, and narrows the love of God by disdaining the life and home and history he's given us--not our choosing and often broken, but significant nonetheless.

Wesley's views of culture have been deeply influential to many in the modern conservative church.

While progress is being made to correct the theological misunderstanding and attitude in the church, it is slow--as reflected in the comments under the article. Humans, especially those who love and know their Maker, aren't merely to engage culture, but to create it. It can't be helped. Are we creating quality or poor culture? Those are our only options.

Read Yancey's article: Traveling with Wesley.

And if you'd like to grow more culturally savvy as a Christian, whether you are a teen or an adult, check out my book, Living with Questions.

And then check out Dick Staub's website and his book, The Culturally Savvy Christian.

And then consider subscribing to the Mars Hill Audio Journal with Ken Myers.


Josh said...

Excellent post. Are we creating quality or poor culture? Now THAT is a piercing question. The isolationist influence of individuals like Wesley has been quite detrimental to the church (although I speak with great care in criticizing such a devout and holy man). I believe much of the blame for the cultural disdain of American Christianity can be laid at the feet of the early to mid 20th century fundamentalist movement. We need more leaders like Yancey to "open the bus blinds" so that the church can once again infiltrate and better the culture.

Dale Fincher said...

Thanks for the comment, Josh.

I guess we just keep talking about it and doing it and something is bound to happen.... or maybe it'll be like a remnant until Kingdom come.

I have a lot of fundamentalism in my background, so I know exactly what you mean. And a lot of evengalicalism, though pretending to cast off those separatist roots, still dabble in the same mindset.

Without any intention to sound judgmental, we have a saying in our family that many in Calvary Chapel are like 'fundies in board shorts.' And many in the Emergent movement are 'fundy pomos.' And I don't think either movement wanted to be that way at the start. But it just happens because the parameters of vision and meaning (and the absense of beauty informing truth) have been set.

It's often the folks who don't think of church buildings and programs as church who carry the texture of Kingdom life. Maybe that's why the artists are called the new preachers of today (but even that is being hijacked and used as a tool rather than a way of seeing).

Josh said...

"fundies in board shorts" :) Seriously, that has to be one of the funniest things I've heard in quite a while. I too have had a lot of personal experience in fundamentalism. Some of it I am thankful for. I believe that it instilled in me an appreciation of the importance of sound doctrine and a conviction for the truth. However, it also gave me an irrational fear of unbelievers and a bunker mentality towards the culture at large. You are spot on concerning the same fundie spirit in various branches of evangelicalism.

I think American Christians have created an entire religious subculture that primarily exists to propagate itself and to filter out the (so-called) "sacred and secular". Thus we see "Christian" film and "Christian" literature being produced instead (as Lewis said) Christians writing books on various topics with their Christianity latent within them.

I do think times are changing though and perusing your blog has encouraged me in that belief.

Dale Fincher said...

I appreciate the compliment.

I find it difficult to weed through my fundy experience. Some of the best things it instilled in me, became the worst.

A strong love for the Word... but I was taught to skillfully take it out of literary and historical context.

A fervor for truth, but at the expense of beauty and one that choked life. I often say that I got more training on being an apologist while at a fundamentalist institution than I ever did learning from today's brightest scholars. I really had to fight to keep my faith alive (and keep from being angry at God).

I will agree with you about sound doctrine, though the more I grow the less sound I found that doctrine to be. I want to stand on the truth that gives life, even though many of my former fundy-friends would say I've fallen away and use such derotagory terms as 'evangelical.' LOL

Yet, I know many who have benefited from the fundamentalists who were not scarred and who continue to grow in the grace of God. Sounds like you are one of those. Glad to see you're not reactive to the movement but gleaning from it.

One of things I have a radar out for these days is "spiritual abuse." And its my fervor to protect and deliver those who had experiences like mine that really draws out the passion in me.

Thanks again for chiming in, Josh. Stop by anytime. Have you seen our website:


chris said...

Hey Dale -- Just stumbled on your blog. Good stuff. Sounds like your ministry is thriving. God bless you guys!

Dale Fincher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dale Fincher said...

Thanks, Chris... I loved your anecdote with Matt Jordon saying his father was Michael Jordon.... A series of wit in that class... I for some reason didn't make it to that orientation, though I started at Talbot in 2000. Maybe because I started in the Spring of 2000.