Wednesday, July 05, 2006

5 July 2006: Post-charismatic

Unusual for me to put up two posts in one day, but I read Billy Kennedy's blog and a link from it to an article called 'Post-charismatic' by Rob McAlpine and felt the need to both link to it and offer some kind of response.

At the very least, it filled my lunchtime quite comfortably. Makes numerous excellent points although I wondered if there was too much emphasis on the 'authority' movements/problems (all valid points though). One of the most balanced articles I've read though, apart from that bit.

Reminded me of two things: firstly, when in Toronto we asked Steve Long and the TACF team what mistakes they made along the way: the answer, given very quickly, was that they'd sacrificed small groups in favour of revival meetings almost without realising it (1994), and before they knew it (1997), huge swathes of the original church had left AND there was no place to disciple the new folks, hence they went with Jethro and then G12. (Interesting G12 doesn't come into the 'what is a leader' discussion.)

Secondly, 'post-charismatic' is a definition not of what you are, or what you aren't, but simply what you used to be. So.. I find I identify with some of what he says, in the same way as I identified with some of Tomlinson's 'Post-evangelical', but I didn't feel the name-tag meant anything much if I did apply it to myself. Which is probably good (pigeon-holing isn't a good thing I think?) but it meant that Rob's article (some might say thesis) to me was more about history and disaffection with certain practices within the charismatic movement rather than being something I could identify with to the point of saying, 'hey, that's me he's talking about'. (Which a lot of people did with the Post-Evangelical thing). And that's the thing, I didn't want it to be about an alternative paradigm...

Which was why I struggled towards the end when he went into scripture-quoting mode: people do this when they're proposing an alternative view and want some back-up to it. I felt one of the best comments in the article was when he said that if you took a person who'd never read scripture before and put them in a room and told them to read and understand the Bible, they would not come out a cessationist, nor would they come out a rampantly name-and-claim prosperity gospellist. So I didn't feel there was a need for a 'reconstructing the praxis' section as much as just saying "look, here's a few problems people have had, let's see what God has to say about it" (and leaving that up to us, rather then telling us what he thinks God is saying about it!)

And the biggest issue is just that: I just mentioned the word 'God' for the first time in this blog entry. Amazing how much we can discuss theology, history, movements, problems, heresy, self-identification with groups and all that stuff without actually mentioning God. Makes me wonder, whether you're an atheist, theist, pantheist, whatever, how many 'church' things would be exactly the same whether or not God existed. It's so often just a show, or it's in our own strength, or it's on our own initiative. Where's God in all this? Because frankly if God's not in a thing, I want nothing to do with it, whether or not it has minor doctrinal points correct.

Finally, there's (of course) the usual delineation between the touchables and untouchables of Christian writing: funny how nowadays nobody is allowed to ever question the theological views of the likes of CS Lewis, John Stott, AW Tozer and increasingly, Richard Foster (it's like their stuff is Bible Canon) while the usual suspects of John Wimber, Peter Wagner, John Paul Jackson and even David Watson are always up for attack, ranked right alongside the likes of Jimmy Swaggart. I have no point to make here, I'm just saying it's an interesting observation.

Sheesh. Now how do I get SPARQL AJAX services and semiometrics into that kind of discussion?

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