Friday, October 27, 2006

A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future





The Call challenges Evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God’s acts in time and history.


The Call

(1) on the primacy of the Biblical narrative
(2) on the Church, the continuation of God’s narrative
(3) on the Church’s theological reflection on God’s narrative
(4) on Church’s worship as telling and enacting God’s narrative
(5) on spiritual formation in the Church as embodiment of God’s narrative
(6) on the Church’s embodied life in the world

complete text on A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

interview with Dr. Robert Webber and Dr. Phil Kanyon

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out:

Touchstone Magazine

Back & Forth to the Future
A Critical Symposium on A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=19-09-022-o

Some highlights:

"If one radically edits the past before appropriating it, then it is no longer the past that one is appropriating, but a version of the present."

"I wish I didn’t have the feeling, reading this document, that I was reading about the roll-out of a self-consciously “retro” new-model car, a sort of ecclesiastical PT Cruiser, which thinks itself “ancient” because it can play Gregorian chant on its sumptuous audio system."

"At the end of the day, the “Ancient/Future” Evangelicalism is a natural extension of American Evangelicalism’s besetting sins of faddishness and consumerism. That’s the reason it is fanned (as so many Evangelical winds of doctrine are) by publishing houses. This project comes to us just as Evangelicalism is in the throes of an infatuation with the so-called emerging church, which is also fueled by publishing houses (the sellers of youth ministry curricula) and which is also enamored simultaneously with postmodern cynicism, egalitarianism, doctrinal flexibility, and ancient-seeming worship...The emerging worshipers and the ancient futurists want to borrow some of the trappings of a time when Christianity was countercultural (dark rooms and candles simulating catacombs, for instance) while embracing primary aspects of contemporary cultural libertarianism (including feminism and pluralism)...The roots of Halloween, we’re told, date back to a time when villagers sought to ward off evil spirits, witches, and ghosts by mocking them with mimicry. A bloodthirsty demon would retreat, it was thought, when he saw someone dressed in ghoulish costume. When reading documents such as A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future, it is hard not to wonder whether this is not what’s going on among these Evangelicals: keeping the ancient Christian witness at bay by mocking it with mimicry."


"If real antagonism exists between Evangelicalism and ecclesial Christianity, then why do born-again Protestants who desire historically grounded expression of the faith remain Evangelical? Why not simply join one of the other communions that guard ancient Christianity? One suspects that the reason has something to do with the advantages of being rootless. Without an Evangelical identity, a born-again Protestant would have to choose one of those other traditions, join it, and reject the others. With an Evangelical identity, he can take the best from all Christian expressions without having to come under the discipline and restraint of a particular church’s ministry, authority, and tradition. If this is so, then the Evangelical future called for in this statement is more modern than ancient, because it is more voluntary than received, more liberated than restrained, more tolerant than exclusive. Without becoming part of a historic Christian communion, Evangelicalism’s ancient future will yield merely the trappings of antiquity minus its churchly substance."


"Throughout the Call, Protestants are blithely encouraged to leapfrog over 1,500 years of church history to recover some exceedingly vague and romantic model of the early Church. Although American Evangelicals are excoriated for their lack of historical consciousness (an argument one could certainly make), the statement’s own case is, in fact, strikingly ahistorical in its fanciful and selective invocation of the Church of the ancient Fathers."

9:09 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Dear anonymous,

Thank you for drawing my attention to this symposium. I am impressed that the AEF Call has stimulated such attention.

Back & Forth to the Future
A Critical Symposium on A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=19-09-022-o

Some highlights:

"If one radically edits the past before appropriating it, then it is no longer the past that one is appropriating, but a version of the present."

This was written by Wilfred M.McClay in his response, “What Lies Behind”. He was commenting on the language used in the AEF Call which he found vague and about the approach being used which is the Christian Story or narrative. The context of the comment above was that McClay accused the authors of the AEF Call in editing out the history of the Church. I find it difficult to understand because the AEF Call is to include the history of the church in our consideration of being Church. That is not “cultural captivity”.

"I wish I didn’t have the feeling, reading this document, that I was reading about the roll-out of a self-consciously “retro” new-model car, a sort of ecclesiastical PT Cruiser, which thinks itself “ancient” because it can play Gregorian chant on its sumptuous audio system."

Again, this comment was from McClay concluding his remarks. It is unfortunate that McClay did not understand the AEF Call which is a call to Biblical authority, to being Church as a people of God, embodied in the world, worshipping and spiritually forming Christians.

"At the end of the day, the “Ancient/Future” Evangelicalism is a natural extension of American Evangelicalism’s besetting sins of faddishness and consumerism. That’s the reason it is fanned (as so many Evangelical winds of doctrine are) by publishing houses. This project comes to us just as Evangelicalism is in the throes of an infatuation with the so-called emerging church, which is also fueled by publishing houses (the sellers of youth ministry curricula) and which is also enamored simultaneously with postmodern cynicism, egalitarianism, doctrinal flexibility, and ancient-seeming worship...The emerging worshipers and the ancient futurists want to borrow some of the trappings of a time when Christianity was countercultural (dark rooms and candles simulating catacombs, for instance) while embracing primary aspects of contemporary cultural libertarianism (including feminism and pluralism)...The roots of Halloween, we’re told, date back to a time when villagers sought to ward off evil spirits, witches, and ghosts by mocking them with mimicry. A bloodthirsty demon would retreat, it was thought, when he saw someone dressed in ghoulish costume. When reading documents such as A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future, it is hard not to wonder whether this is not what’s going on among these Evangelicals: keeping the ancient Christian witness at bay by mocking it with mimicry."

This is from Russell D. Moore in “Listen Closely”. Moore commented that “there is almost no proposition in Call AEF”. Yet he confused the AEF Call with the emergent church (not emerging church), cultural libertarianism and Halloween. Is reformation a fad?

"If real antagonism exists between Evangelicalism and ecclesial Christianity, then why do born-again Protestants who desire historically grounded expression of the faith remain Evangelical? Why not simply join one of the other communions that guard ancient Christianity?

One suspects that the reason has something to do with the advantages of being rootless. Without an Evangelical identity, a born-again Protestant would have to choose one of those other traditions, join it, and reject the others. With an Evangelical identity, he can take the best from all Christian expressions without having to come under the discipline and restraint of a particular church’s ministry, authority, and tradition. If this is so, then the Evangelical future called for in this statement is more modern than ancient, because it is more voluntary than received, more liberated than restrained, more tolerant than exclusive. Without becoming part of a historic Christian communion, Evangelicalism’s ancient future will yield merely the trappings of antiquity minus its churchly substance."

This quotation is from D.G. Hart’s “Born Again Free”. He wrote, “As the latest historical scholarship has shown, this indifference to form was essential to the Evangelical movement.” I find this surprising because form is essential. How can any belief system exist without form: structure, tradition, propositions, authority etc. And form is constantly evolving. It is formed and informed by spiritual practices and expressions. Spiritual practices and expressions are tools to faith formation. They are not an end by themselves.


"Throughout the Call, Protestants are blithely encouraged to leapfrog over 1,500 years of church history to recover some exceedingly vague and romantic model of the early Church. Although American Evangelicals are excoriated for their lack of historical consciousness (an argument one could certainly make), the statement’s own case is, in fact, strikingly ahistorical in its fanciful and selective invocation of the Church of the ancient Fathers."

This quotation is from Gillis Harp’s “Antiquity & Absence”. This is an interesting statement because as I reread the AEF Call (revised 36-5.12.06), I do not find it referring to any specific time period except a mention of the “ancient church, early fathers and ecumenical creeds”. This would include the whole of church history and definitely not ahistorical.

Again, thank you, anonymous for pointing out this symposium to me. Actually I am not involved at all with the AEF Call but after this, I may reconsider.

Shalom

5:19 PM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

THE NECF research commission may be doing a discussion on this topic... maybe u should jump right in? :D

12:15 AM  

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