Sunday, September 25, 2005

Future Trends #7: Mystical Connection to Historical Roots

As a generation, the postmoderns seem to be less and less satisfied with cerebral engagement than with a connection with the eternal. I feel this tension as a child of Enlightenment faith where every doctrine and belief submits to the idol of reason. Not reasonable? Then it can't possibly be true. And so we remove every mystical (mysterious), unknowable aspect of our faith away from our people. Now, anyone who knows me understands that I hope that we all would seek to love the Lord with all of our minds. I am not for stupid or lazy faith. Too many Christians today simply don't want to spend time or the energy it takes to study the Scriptures and theology to know what we should believe. They mark it up to "those things that we will never understand." Well, God did not give us a faith that is impossible to understand. He wants us to use the brains that He gave us to learn about Him from the Word He gave us. So, I am not a fan of stupid Christianity. But I am a fan of mysterious Christianity. There are many things that we cannot explain and will never fully understand in this life. I like that. It makes some people nervous - especially those who have bought into rationalism to the point that nothing can be experienced unless I can make it reasonable to my mind. Reason is not sovereign - the Triune God is sovereign. And He works in mysterious ways.

The reconnection with the mystical parts of our faith is intriguing to many Westerners who have grown up in a scientific culture. We desire to know the ancient faith of so many who went before. One thing that this desire for the mystery of God will drive (in my opinion anyway) is a reconnection with the historical roots of Christianity. Most of pre-Enlightenment Christianity has much to teach us today about experiencing the mystery of God through the Word and the sacraments in community. A couple thoughts lend themselves to this conclusion. First, more Christians will realize that the church of Jesus Christ survived for 1500 years without the printed Bible. This will show us again the priority of studying the Word in community and learning our theological framework within the boundaries of the church (immediate and historical). The drive to push our people to read the Scriptures on a daily basis will be connected with a deep desire to experience the living Word as He shapes us in community. The creeds will even make a comeback in some circles as a desire for historical orthodoxy increases. Second, more Christians will realize that the modern church has lost its sacramental identity. Driven more by fads and perceived needs of lost people, the church has lost its place for the Christian as the connection between the heavenly and the earthly, the eternal and the temporary. The church of the future will reembrace a high view of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Look for a new practical theology driven by mystical views of ancient practices.

There you have it; expect more connection with ancient communities of faith through their confessions, practices, and sacramental theology. It is coming.

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