In the most recent edition of Christianity Today I could not help but notice their reports on the continuing growing trend among mainline churches to go back to the future. In terms of theology, worship, devotion and spiritual development what was old seems to be new again.
Back in 2006 I wrote in this blog about the Return of Orthodoxy. According to CT writer Charles Armstrong this trend is only gaining more momentum. Reporting on the growing numbers of Christians returning to orthodoxy in his article entitled The Future is the Past he writes:
“The recent growth of this trend, especially among the young, suggests that evangelicals are still struggling with an identity crisis. Many 20-and 30-something evangelicals are uneasy and alienated in mall-like church environments; high-energy worship and boomer-era ministry strategies and structures modeled on the business world. Increasingly, they are asking just how these culturally camouflaged churches can help them rise above the values of the consumerist world around them.”
To me, this is fascinating- and challenging- especially given that my fellowship in the Churches of Christ tends to be about ten years behind the curve when it comes to responding to such trends. For instance, we are still fussing about praise teams when the greater Christian world is actually moving away from that type of performance-based worship.
Another trend which CT noted is the rise of Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention churches. I will admit that this one semi-shocked me. I don’t get and have never gotten this doctrine of predestination. To me it makes God seem to be cruel. I do understand and appreciate the emphasis Calvin placed on salvation being God’s work and not mans, but pure, hardcore Calvinism (Anyone know what TULIP means?) is a tough pill for me to swallow biblically. Yet it is back and gaining adherents even in churches not of that tradition.
I think all of this revisiting of dusty doctrines and liturgical practices are just indicative of our times. In our post-modern, post-Christian world truth has been turned upside down. Many churches have abandoned their traditional roots to embrace the church growth performance-based mega-church model. The result- among other things- has been a loss of a sense of security and personal connection- and a rediscovering of the ancient traditions.
The challenge now is- at least for me- how to repsond to these trends.
I would appreciate your input.