Monday, June 2, 2008

Breaking a 17-Century Habit

I've been writing a little lately over at the Emerging Leaders Network, a Ning-based social network about 130 strong, populated predominantly by Lutherans interested in the Emergent conversation. One thread there led me to write the following about a shift taking place in our culture that undoes something fundamental which has been in place for 1700 years.

"One other thing I wanted to pick up on: you wrote about how "...many Gen X/Y people, especially, haven’t even had enough church contact to be alienated—the church is simply not on their radar." I think that's critically important for us to wake up to. People often talk about the importance of the change in worldview from Modern to Postmodern... shifting something fundamental that has been in place for some hundreds of years. But I believe there is - at the same time - another shift now in process that undoes an assumption that has been in place for 17 centuries: the relationship between Church and civil culture.

"Before Constantine, the Church was viewed as an enemy. Afterwards, the Church was viewed as a partner. (The Reformation - as significant as it was - did not depart from this. It simply led to multiple choices for which Church each State wanted to partner with.) But now, as your observation reveals, this way of relating for the past 17 centuries is changing. The civil culture is now looking at the Church as irrelevant.
"It's this kind of massive context-shifting that I believe really urges us to first, go back to the kernel of Christian faith, and second, experiment wildly with various ways to re-enflesh Christian life and community."

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