Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ancient Future Evangelicalism

In tribute to Dr. Webber, this week's Christian History & Biography newsletter contains excerpts from a few of his books and statements from those who knew him or were influenced by him.

Looking backward, moving forward"Classical Christianity was shaped in a pagan and relativistic society much like our own. Classical Christianity was not an accommodation to paganism but an alternative practice of life. Christians in a postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a countercultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus.

"We now live in a transitional time in which the modern worldview of the Enlightenment is crumbling and a new worldview is beginning to take shape. Some leaders will insist on preserving the Christian faith in its modern form; others will run headlong into the sweeping changes that accommodate Christianity to postmodern forms; and a third group will carefully and cautiously seek to interface historic Christian truths in the dawning of a new era.

"My argument has been that evangelicals will do well to affirm a Christianity that has a deep kinship with the faith of the early church. … For here is a faith that, like a tapestry, weaves everything in and out of the main thread—Christ. … Here, I believe, is a faith for our time, a faith that finds in the ancient Christian tradition a power to speak to the postmodern world."

—From Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Baker: 1999)


"The concern of this writing is to go back to the earliest convictions of Christian spirituality. Why go back? Because the Roman culture in which Christianity first emerged is very similar to the culture of today's world. It was a culture of political unrest, a world of numerous religious options, a time of moral confusion and poverty. The religions of the day made no demands on believing, behaving, or belonging. In this context the Christian message was not presented as one more spirituality among the spiritualities but as Alan Kreider points out, Christians proclaimed, "We believe, we behave, we belong." One would think that the clarity of union with God in the context of the plurality of religions would doom it to failure. But it was that very union with God—lived out in belief, behavior, and belonging—that resulted in the rapid spread of the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire."

—From The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life (Baker, 2006)


"How do you deliver the authentic faith and great wisdom of the past into the new cultural situation of the twenty-first century? The way into the future, I argue, is not an innovative new start for the church; rather, the road to the future runs through the past. These three matters—roots, connection, and authenticity in a changing world—will help us to maintain continuity with historic Christianity as the church moves forward."

—From Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year (Baker, 2004)

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Anonymous blogapastor said...

Very alluring extracts, but best of all his catch-word "ancient-future" to describe the church and it's worship. It helped me pin down in a word my vague longing for the way worship in church should move towards.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

What I am really impressed is his call to look towards the past. He wrote, "the road to the future runs through the past".

That took gut to say that because, because to many Christians, the past means Roman Catholicism. And at the time he said that, about 20 years ago, the conservatives were still recuperating from their battle with the liberals. But that is not what he meant.

He meant, look beyond Roman Catholicism towards the ancient church fathers, the desert mother and fathers and maybe we can find ourselves.

3:47 PM  

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