Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Protestant Problems

I can't help but wonder what Martin Luther's reaction would be if he saw Protestantism for what it is today. When he nailed those 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church nearly 500 years ago, he was essentially protesting a lack of standards, particularly, the introduction of the indulgences into the Roman Catholic church. If I am correct in my interpretation, that the heart of the matter is a lack of standards, then Protestantism is lacking some vigor these days. Of course, Protestantism is an expansive network, and so, I do not wish to paint all churches of this network with the same brush. Nevertheless, I would like to survey some Protestant artifacts here.

I've rambled about postmodern Christianity on here before. If there's one thing that's kept me up the past few months (not literally), it's been postmodernism, in both its secular and Christian forms. Is it just me, or would we all have been better off if we just left this theory to the secular philosophers? I can't imagine Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard or the rest of their ilk being interested in what postmodern Christianity had to offer. It's not just bad Christianity - it's bad postmodernism. And yet, this is a formidable movement. It's endorsed by Marcus Borg, Tony Jones, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Carl Raschke, and Peter Rollins. There are organizations and events devoted to this framework, including Homebrewed Christianity, Wild Goose Festival, and Red Letter Christians. I should note, I am saddened to include Red Letter Christians in that group. I admire both Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, despite some disagreements with their ideas, and I included this organization in the list because Brian McLaren, Mickey ScottBey Jones, and Jim Wallis are a part of this network.

I've already written about the United Church of Canada and their beliefs on homosexuality and abortion. Something strange to me about Protestantism is all of the forms of postchristianity. Who would have ever thought there would be Christian atheism, which is plaguing both Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations alike? When you read about something like that, you just can't help but shake your head (at least, I can't). Fideism has had its critics in the past, but this is just absurd.

I read an interesting essay by Kevin DeYoung a couple of weeks ago dealing with the ideas of Brian McLaren, in an attempt to better understand postmodern Christianity. Now, I know it is better to go to the sources themselves, but I am low on time and resources, so I can't read everything. That being said, I'm waiting on receiving a copy of Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction by Christopher Butler in the mail. So, believe me, I am trying to approach my objects of critique fairly.

And I'm sorry for the lack of cohesion here, but I thought it worthwhile to express some of my confusion over this matter before school starts up again. Honestly, what is happening with Protestantism? Where are the values? Why is there this denial of sexual ethics and the value of the yet to be born? Why is there this idolatry of doubt? Why is there this guise of celebrating 'every' ideology? Where has mysticism disappeared, in this anti-capitalist capitalization of solely this-world problems? Why has God been buried between the pages of esoteric, systematic thought - an intellectual game? There have to be standards if there is the way.


  1. Postmodernist Christianity fails for the same reasons mos churched in the west fail....because it's oriented to truth-seeking via the intellect and not oriented to God. I might agree with some of postmodernism in general (like anything else) but it ends up at the same destination if it can't comport with God's vision of reality.

    1. That's a good point. Intellect is a fickle thing; it's just a matter of arranging any string of thoughts in the "correct way" - and that way is usually subjective.