Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rose by any other name...

Hey guys, This has been a hot, hot time for the Midwest Mindset. I love the people that have been posting. Paco, I miss you. I appreciate your insights and feel that I have refreshed and maybe gotten away from cynicism long enough to say amen. thanks for sharing that. Jonny and Adam, also, great posts...And yes, Jake, Sufjan may be the best thing to happen to music since Hoi Polloi..

However, What I want to ask about is something that Adam posted about in the comments about Jonny's big post. It also relates to my completion and Jake's review of McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy...What are we if we aren't Evangelicals and what good (or bad) does this title do for us as a community and, ultimately, the cause of Christ? Amos, Victoria, Joey, et al...I want some input...



At 7/14/2005 10:27 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

We are Christians! I happen to be an Anabaptist. Adam happens to be a Catholic. According to an internet quiz, Jonny happens to be a neo-orthodox (does theological school count here or should it be an actual church body?). My point is simply this, if you want to be a christian you have to be associated with an actual church community which means you're picking/playing for a particular team. one of the main problems with evangelicalism is that it is a broad, anti-denominational denomination of sorts. some people feel convinced that they should "work out" being an evangelical and all that that implies, I for one think it's a lost cause. So be a Christian but find a community and allow that to shape the specifics of your identity.

At 7/15/2005 3:07 AM, Anonymous joey said...

I guess I don't have any definitely feelings on the subject. It kind of overwhelms me. I keep thinking about Rick Kliendenst telling me that he prefers to be called a follower of Jesus rather than a Christian. To me that seems like sort of a cop out. I mean just because I am not particularly pleased with what "Chrstians" have done doesn't mean I start calling myself something else just to avoid association. Personally, I would be more inspired to call myself a Christian because it means facing up to my own failures rather than poning them off to some group to whom I am not associated. Maybe continuing to call myself an evangelical means that, as a Christian, I want the bad as well as the good because I don't do much growing or improving if I have the latter. I appeal to Rob Bell and say that maybe being weak and admitting that we as evangelicals have been somewhat of a letdown can be a form of strength in itself.

At 7/16/2005 10:31 AM, Anonymous Rick Klinedinst said...

Just for some clarification---
My main point in often saying I'd rather be called a follower of Jesus than a Christian is to suggest something inherently wrong with, as J.H. Yoder/Hauerwas put it, the Constantinian model of Christendom, which seems to take dominance today. One example is the Fortress Intro that Sander's used in Contemp. Relig. Thought. Where are the anabaptists? In large part, when most think of "Christianity," few associate it with the historic peace churches/anabaptists/and so on, while many associate it with (forgive me for the generalization) mainline Protestantism/Evangelicalism. While in academic circles many may be reading Yoder, McClendon, Eller or Hauerwas, few outside of these circles seem to engage them seriously (especially the former 2). Take for example Stanley Hauerwas-- until Time magazine, or whoever it was named him the "most important theologian of the day" or whatever it was, he had little attention and few outside of certain ciricles read his early books put out by Notre Dame press. In talking w/ someone that I do not know who inquires about my faith, it is my preference to state things this way. It is not that I want to "cop out," but rather I want to allow further coversation to take place. I thought a lot about this after conversations at Dr. Sander's house, in which he talked about how many of his friends have been doing this, especially in light of today's religious climate. Often times as soon as the word Christian is used, especially on the campus of an Ivy League school etc., there is automatic association with the resurgence/growth/coming out of hibernation of fundamentalism/evangelicalism over the past few decades. If you mention Mother Teresa or Jesus, you get a very different reaction. As a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren, I have strong roots in a denomination and agree with the idea of a "shaping community" in Jake Sikora's above post. A large and influential part of my Brethren heritage includes the anabaptists, and the emphasis of much Brethren theology (and other solely Anabaptist thought) is the centrality of the life of Christ, and a life committed to following him as an exemplar example of how to live our own lives. So, perhaps my using the langage of "follower of Jesus" is the result of my community shaping my identity, and all those sunday school lessons I had in the COB coming back to my mind again. I think that is why when I talked about it with Sander's, it was not at all odd for me to hear that people were doing such a thing, and often times staying true to their community heritage in doing so. In ways I have confused the meanings of Christendom and Christian in this post---I mean that I have almost used them interchangeably, which some of you might not have noticed....but this is my point exactly. While I think there is something very different between Christendom and being a Christian, I feel that few today make that distinction very well. I am a follower of Jesus, and indeed a Christian, and indeed a lover and purveyor of my Church of the Brethren denomination, with all its radical pietist and anabaptist roots. So, I hope that when I tell someone I'm a follower of Jesus my conversation can continue on, and perhaps I'll be able to articulate a more nuanced understanding of my choosing that language---although I still consider myself a Christian. Maybe it's a subtle protest to the broader, snapshot understandings of Christianity today--- a hope that a different voice might emerge...or maybe it's a useless exercise in attempting to let my language suggest something that I don't embrace as much as I do Constantinian Christendom. Sorry for the length and inconsistencies, but I at least wanted to get a few thoughts down on why I would say such a thing. I didn't articulate quite how I would have liked to, but maybe this is a starting point, albeit off the current topic of posts.

At 7/16/2005 11:13 PM, Anonymous joey said...

Rick, I like that. I didn't mean to infer that you are "coping out" merely that sometimes it is still worth being thrown into a mix that you might not want to be thrown into. I like your stance and it is good to see you write passionately about it.

At 7/17/2005 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anna Dyke said...

I've been thinking alot about this lately. I was raised Presbyterian --- the 'liberal' kind, studied at HC/HU, and am now in a presbyterian seminary.
I didn't always feel at home at HC. Mostly that was because of people's attitudes outside of BR and EM.
And now in seminary, I don't always fit either.
I'm "evangelical" in very basic theology, but not in a cultural sense (if that makes sense at all).
I'm some sort of hybrid.
And I too would like to see that study about the Sanders era.

I caught up with a long lost HC pal and found my way here from her blog. So good to find old friends!


Post a Comment

<< Home