Erosion – beyond Post-Orthodox

Post Orthodox is so 2009. Back then people who were socialized in the orthodox world, orthodox institutions, and orthodox ideas were discovering that they they find it intellectually, culturally, aesthetically, and politically limited. Hence they saw themselves as post-orthodox.
Here are the original posts- here, here, here and about six more posts that treated specific issues.

Now, if the orthodox community continues to follow the post-evangelicals trends then the post-orthodox are not splinting to be a liberal part of orthodoxy, (only some ideologues are staying to be the liberal flank). They are simply eroding. Those who stayed as liberals may have the least in common with those who erosion made them leave. Some are finding new homes in renewal, reform, and conservative but most have just given up and dont care. They are open about their lack of observance, not to their parents but certainly to their friends. (I think for many it is still 2009 and they will move in the next decade.) The first Evangelical below notes that they have just left in the last 3 years and the second Evangelical notes that if someone develops liberal politics they will leave their denomination.

Does any of this sound like the younger post-Orthodox? Have they now found new homes and made their piece with non-affiliation or non-observance?They may no longer be a post-orthodox moment, everyone is starting their new lives. The liberal flank of Orthodoxy like ‘Rob Bell evangelicalism” may already be considered those who still cleave to Orthodoxy and may understand post-orthodoxy the least.
Richard J. Mouw, the Conservative Evangelical has already stated that Rob Bell may be wrong but is still part of the Evangelical camp. (on Rob Bell see here)

Evangelicalism Won’t Split, It’s Eroding
By Jonathan D. Fitzgerald On March 17, 2011 •
Over at Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christians” blog, Jimmy Spencer sees the release of Love Wins as signalling an imminent split in Protestant evangelicalism. It’s the old people, who tend to be reformed, along with their young recruits, against the rest of us young folks, as Spencer sees it. And though he rightly identifies the opposing factions, I think he may have missed something.
The “huge shift” he is waiting for is already happening.
But, I can see why he might have missed it; it’s not a split at all. It is more like an erosion. Those of us along the edges are simply sliding off the side into, well, all kinds of things. Some of us turn to Catholicism, others to mainline denominations. Some tumble into Episcopal or Anglican churches, others stay at their evangelical churches but choose not to identify as such. And, sadly, some slide off the edge into nothing at all.
I don’t think there will be any more of a marked change than this. A loosely gathered group of people who have never been able to agree on a name let alone the particulars of theology don’t split, they erode. And erosion doesn’t happen once and then it’s over, it’s an ongoing process.
We are in the midst of the erosion. Enjoy the slide
From Here

By Alisa Harris On March 18, 2011 •
Yesterday, Fitz argued that evangelicalism won’t split because it’s eroding instead. I agree, and I would add that this erosion factors heavily into the debate over whether young evangelicals are staying conservative or shifting to the left.
First, the overall evangelical retention rate has declined, especially among young adults.
Second, a fascinating finding suggests that politics drives our choice of religion instead of religion deciding our politics.

Also, “misfits”—“liberal churchgoers and unchurched conservatives”—are more likely to change their religion than change their politics. The evidence “strongly suggests,” the authors say, that “politics is driving religious conversion.”

So what happens when a young evangelical becomes a liberal? Does she stick with the extremely uncomfortable identity of evangelical liberal, or does she decide to go to a church that doesn’t harangue her about her convictions? Evidence suggests she’ll switch churches. Thus, polls of self-identified evangelicals that purport to show them staying conservative are roundly unconvincing, because if you’ve done much shifting, you’ve probably also shifted out of the overwhelmingly politically conservative evangelical church. By only questioning people who call themselves evangelicals, polls like this miss the very people who are doing the shifting.

So is evangelicalism eroding? The retention rate among the young suggests it is, perhaps because evangelicalism has become irrevocably linked to politics they no longer embrace.
When we equate faith with a certain political ideology—or, to use the Christian conservative vernacular, equate our faith with a certain “worldview” that always entails a political ideology—we are not entering into a deeper exploration of faith but reducing faith to the political. And when your politics change, as politics do, you find there’s nothing left to your faith. from here

Moew’s new found re-acceptance of his liberal flank that preaches a generous Orthodoxy, he will accept those who have someone to rely on and seems to have Christian version of Albo’s line of thinking. Moew brings a story about a 1960’s professor who assumed Socrates was saved. Not the most orthodox thought, but no need to write him out of Evangelicalism for it. Leave these decisions to God. At this point, the liberals are Moew’s loyal opposition.

I have received many responses to my comments on Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins—responses both to the brief remarks by me quoted in USA Today, and to the longer piece I posted here explaining my endorsement of Rob’s book.

But I do want to say more here about “generous orthodoxy.” In my role as president of an evangelical school that brings together folks from many theological traditions

A case in point: suppose someone at Fuller denies the doctrine of the “intermediate state,” insisting that after death the believer continues to be “with the Lord” as someone whom the Lord still loves and will raise up on Resurrection Day—but that the time between death and resurrection is not one of a continuing conscious state.

Is that orthodox? I would say so, in the broad orthodoxy sense. People can quote Luther in support of that view, as well as many Anabaptist thinkers.

As a Calvinist Christian, though, I hold myself in my own theology to the stricter standards of the Reformed confessions, to which I subscribe.

Or a simpler case: To insist on adult baptism by immersion is within the bounds of Evangelical orthodoxy. But it is not within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy.

Back to Rob Bell. I find nothing in his Love Wins book that violates the standards of a broad Evangelical orthodoxy.

First principle: People with defective theologies can go to heaven.

Second principle: We have good reasons to allow some mystery about who will be “in” and who will be “out” in the end.

Even on the strictest standards of Calvinist orthodoxy to which I hold myself accountable, then, I find some room to hang a little loose on the exact populations of heaven and hell.

But when I began teaching at Calvin College in the late 1960s, folks were still talking about a debate that had taken place over the claim of William Harry Jellema—a revered philosophy teacher at the school in earlier days—that Socrates would show up in heaven. In those days the Christian Reformed Church was not easy on heretics. But the church never called him to account for his views. I’m not sure about the Socrates case myself. But I am happy to leave such cases to the judgment of a sovereign God who—Westminster again—“worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.” Full version here

One response to “Erosion – beyond Post-Orthodox

  1. I got a nice tweet from an evangelical that thinks I got things right.

    @Frank_Turk
    Orthodox Jews start naming names in the @RealRobBell controversy: http://bit.ly/hVisvv And I think that link gets it almost completely right

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