Greetings! I fell out of the blog world last week. I never really finished my “It’s about Jesus” series. It will actually be an open ended series. Whenever I have a post specifically about Christ, I’ll make it another part in the series. Another blogger I know has had an open ended series of posts about Jesus, and she is up to part eighty something!☺
Meanwhile, an issue I’ve expressed concern about in the past is an evangelical tendency to overemphasize the “relationship with God” aspect of our faith. God is both immanent and transcendent, and I see this as one of the “tensions” of our faith. An emphasis on God’s immanence is a good thing in some respects, but its overemphasis can lead to weaknesses. I don’t want to re-hash the issue, but see these past posts to better understand my concerns: Maybe we need new terminology and Cautions about Intimacy with God. In the first post I said this:
…We have lost a reverence or a healthy fear for God. Almost all mystery is gone. I fear we have brought God so down to our level, that we have almost created a false god of our own making. God is personal like we are, but unlike us God is great! God is majestic and some things about God are incomprehensible to our finite minds. It seems to me that other branches of Christendom or “high church” Protestants do a better job at emphasizing the mysterious and majestic aspect of God.
I think we are beginning to see a backlash to the informal, casual approach to God. About a year ago, I began coming in contact with random evangelicals switching from casual, “low church” evangelical churches to more traditional or “high church” denominations. I asked around if this was a trend or if there were any statistics available, but I could not really find anything. Suddenly, in the last several weeks I’m coming across articles and a developing conversation on this issue. Here’s a sampling:
- Young Evangelicals are Getting High. “…Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism in droves, despite growing up in low Protestant churches that told them about Jesus. It’s a trend that is growing, and it looks like it might go that way for a while: people who grew up in stereotypical, casual evangelicalism are running back past their parents’ church to something that looks like it was dug out of Europe a couple hundred years ago at least….What the kids leaving generic evangelicalism seem to want is…a holy Father who demands reverence, a Savior who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed.” *Note the longing for reverence and careful worship – things that are often lost when God’s immanence is overemphasized as in so much of modern evangelicalism.
- Change Wisely, Dude. The author shares how she left church for a time in her youth, and when she slipped back in, she wanted an informal, anti-institutional church that looked less like a church and more like a coffee house. But after a couple years of this “the coffee tasted thin” as she words it. She missed…hymns, historicity, sacraments, old aesthetics, church polity. Essentially, she was tired of the casual, informal approach to God. She notes that the Book of Common Prayer never uses the word “dude”! ☺
- Longing for a Mother, not a Babysitter. The conversation continues over at the Internet Monk, taking note that young people are looking to historic traditions because today’s churches seem stuck in trying to be “fun babysitters” when what people really want is “dutiful mothers.”
Of course, this isn’t only related to an overemphasis on God’s immanence. Much of the evangelical church has been too concerned with being relevant or culturally hip/trendy and using modern marketing approaches to promote faith (grow the church). As these articles indicate, many have grown tired of this stuff. But I still think an underlying cause is the overemphasis on intimacy with God. When we bring God so far down to our level, it makes it easier to get flippant in how we worship or engage culture or promote the church. We need to bring some balance back into evangelicalism, and better live the tension between God’s immanence and transcendence. Just my two-cents…