As we take a turn towards the 22nd century, what do we “let go of” and “to what do we hold on”?
That was a question that came out of the MAKERS OF FIRE SESSION webinar yesterday.
It was asked from the perspective of faith
and so we discussed letting go of…
- …truths (propositional) and holding on to trust (personal)
- …letting go of doctrines and holding on to directions
- …letting go of cultural power and holding on to spirit
- …letting go of certainty and holding on to faith
Here are some examples of things that some of us “hold onto” and some ideas about where we might be going.
HEAVEN. Not too long ago, many Christians evangelized using heaven as an incentive (at least in the Souther part of the United States). Now Christians are beginning to flip over towards an understanding that humans are not intended for heaven but for earth. (What makes this more interesting is that these same Christians warned new converts against cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach that God is making a new heaven and a new Earth. So, at least in terms of language with regard to this one idea, we should congratulate the Jehovah’s witness for leading the way!)
WOMEN AND THE ENVIRONMENT. From the 60’s on Pagans (Yes, the religion) led the way in terms of the role of women in society and in terms of valuing the Earth. Now Christians are adopting a more “biblical” perspective on the natural world and are rereading the scriptures about the role of women. (Again, should not Christ followers applaud the Pagans for pointing us in the right direction?)
HELL. The idea of hell as a place of eternal suffering is falling out of favor and ideas like annihilationism (also maintained by the Jehovah’s witnesses) are stepping up as viable alternatives.
CHURCH. The idea of church as a sunday morning gathering plateaus and church as a path journeyed in community rises. (Yes, the “church gathering” and the mega church will be a part of the future).
CLERGY. The idea of ministry as a career plateaus and ministry as a charism and calling rises. (Yes, there will continue to be leaders whom the “community on journey together” slingshot forward to announce the gospel where needed).
EVOLUTION. Imagine a future in which every Christ following person has evolutionary frameworks for how life emerges on Earth and works out a theology from there. Welcome to the future.
ATONEMENT. Good bye to the idea that God was getting his pound of flesh on Christ. Goodbye angry God and his angry pastors. Human evil, however, is still real and invisible to secular eyes.
HUMANKIND. Good bye to the idea that humanity is the problem and hello to the idea that humanity is the goal. This is what I call, making the world human.
ORGATHETIC. We will let go of the idea of humanity as a purely organic creature and move towards the embrace of the human-machine merger, the melding together of the organic with the synthetic, what I call the Orgathetic future.
THE RETURN OF CHRIST. What meaning will the “soon return of Christ” have in 3000AD or 4000AD? That’s pretty much the meaning in 2014AD. Alternatives include that the coming of the spirit was the return of Christ AND that the return of Christ and the end of the universe some 14 billion years in the future are one and the same thing.
THE NATURE AND ROLE OF THE SCRIPTURES. The Bible as revelation goes away and the Bible as a culturally conditioned human witness rises. There will be a factual component — the bible is a work of humans — and a faith component — the Bible is a human witness to the Acts of God within history and life experience.
GOD. The ideas of God’s transcendence and immanence will race to the extreme edges of the spectrum. We will become more humble as we realize that our goldfish has a better chance of understanding our calculus homework than we do of understanding God. And we will become more alert as we begin to experience God more fully within everything around us. The shifts will run from Knowing God in terms of knowledge to knowing God in terms of personal experience and from theism, in the sense of a strict separation between God and everything else, to panentheism (vs pantheism), a sense of God in all things.
EARTH. As we colonize Mars, we will let go of Earth as the final destination of life and instead embrace it as the womb of life from which life spreads across the universe. We will embrace orgathetic humanity as a multi-planetary species and possibly as the launching pad for life across the galaxy.
Letting go doesn’t mean abdicating the responsibility to articulate, embody, and name the relationship of trust, the trajectories of our journey, the meaning of the spirit, and the understanding of faith, and it certainly doesn’t mean detaching ourselves from the historical source of the Christ following movement, but it does mean recognizing that we are evolving. And, in fact, evolving makes articulating, embodying, and naming … even more important. It is a risk of love we must take because we are all feeling our way forward. And we won’t get there alone. And we won’t be alone, for Christ journeys with us.
What do you think?
“And the word was made flesh…”