October 20, 2017

Ancient-Future Faith (1): Faith in a Post-Modern World

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Stations of the Cross path, Gethsemani Abbey

Introduction
This week we will discuss portions of a classic book by Robert E. Webber: Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World.

In conjunction with these posts, you might want to review a series we did back in August, 2010 called, “Three Streams in the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.” One of those streams we identified as “The Ancient-Future Path.” We identified Robert E. Webber as the “father of the ancient-future path,” and discussed various characteristics that have become apparent in the past forty years or so in the church here in America. Here are links to those posts:

The four characteristics of this path that I identified in those posts were:

  1. Ancient-Future is about embracing a theological perspective of “classic Christianity”.
  2. Ancient-Future is about maintaining a vital, organic, respectful connection to our Christian history and heritage.
  3. Ancient-Future is about restoring a robust doctrine and practice of the church and her authority in the life of the faithful.
  4. Ancient-Future is about practicing liturgical wisdom and integrity in our worship.

The late Robert Webber was one of the strongest voices urging Christians to embrace the Ancient-Future way. His book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church, described his own pilgrimage and the journeys of others who left various forms of free-church evangelicalism to seek fellowship in broader, deeper, more ancient, and more ecumenical church traditions. Webber did not say that all believers should do this. He did, however, urge Christians to become more aware of church history and tradition and to ground their theology and practices more firmly in the kind of faith we have received from our ancestors.

Webber had and continues to have a great influence on me, as he did on Michael Spencer. You can more read about his life and legacy HERE.

Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Faith (1999), was intended as an update of his 1978 book, Common Roots. However, changes in the world and culture led Webber to do a revision so thorough that AFF stands as a completely new work. He begins by “setting the stage” — encouraging Christians to think in “paradigms” and to recognize that our world has moved from a “modern” to a “postmodern” paradigm. This provides the impetus for his claim that the church would do well to return to forms of “classical Christianity.”

The book then addresses five areas in which this “classical/postmodern” faith is to be understood and lived out:

  • A Classical/Postmodern Christ
  • A Classical/Postmodern Church
  • A Classical/Postmodern Worship
  • A Classical/Postmodern Spirituality
  • A Classical/Postmodern Mission

In today’s post we will focus on what Webber has to say about the “postmodern” world and the Church’s place in it.

* * *

ancient-future-faith-rethinking-evangelicalism-for-a-postmodern-worldI am convinced that if we want to understand the conflict taking place in churches today we need to understand the shift from the modern paradigm to the postmodern paradigm of thought. . . .

Evangelical Christianity has also developed a worldview based on the modern paradigm. While reason is placed under revelation, evangelicals insist revelation can be interpreted through the use of reason, resulting in foundational truth. Following the line of structuralism, evangelicals argue that “meaning is found within the biblical text.” Evangelicals also insist that the single authorial meaning of each text is discoverable through the use of the grammatical-historical and theological method. This is the notion of propositional truth. For example, some time ago I was giving lectures at an evangelical seminary. After my morning lecture I was wandering around the halls and stopped outside the door of a classroom to listen when I heard the professor say in a strong and authoritative voice, “There is one single meaning to every text of Scripture and we have the tools to discover that meaning and know the intent of the author.” This statement represents an evangelical application of Cartesian individualism, and a high confidence in reason to arrive at factual truth. The Bible is the foundation of truth, the tools of reason uncover that truth, and truth is emphatically, if not entirely, propositional.

In recent years the modern paradigm of rational certainty has been challenged by the revolutions that have taken place in every area of life. Because of these revolutions, evangelicals must rethink their enmeshment with modernity and construct a theology that will be consistent with historic Christianity yet relevant to our new time in culture. (pp. 18-20)

Robert Webber focuses attention on three “revolutions” that have moved us from a “modern” to a “postmodern” paradigm.

First, there is the scientific revolution. We have moved from the more mechanistic perspective of the Enlightenment regarding the way the world works to an understanding in which mystery is once more prevalent. “The world now appears to be complex and mysterious once again” since we have discovered the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. We live in a dynamic universe, a creation in perpetual motion. So-called “facts” are “interpreted facts,” and because reality is dynamic, we hold them with much more faith and much more tentatively.

This shift into mystery, holism, and interpreted fact, instead of necessitating a new theology, makes the historic and traditional theology of the church relevant once again. The theology of the ancient church was characterized by mystery, a holism that rejected all dualistic structures of thought and the interpretation of the Christ-fact. The understanding of  God and God’s relationship to the world in creation, incarnation, and re-creation, was hammered out in the framework of a commitment to a God who participates in history and works out the salvation of the entire cosmos from within the created order. This holistic understanding of God and creation as the central mystery of the Christian faith holds the greatest potential for an intelligent recovery of classical Christianity in a postmodern world. (p. 21f)

Second, Webber highlights the philosophical revolution. Noting that postmodern philosophy is a response to what science has learned, he describes some of the major issues raised by the current philosophical analysis.

First, there is a shift away from the distinction between subject and object. We no longer see ourselves as individual, autonomous selves who are separate from the objects we examine. All things are now understood as interrelated, in symbiotic relationships with each other; we are beings enmeshed in social networks. Second, this undercuts the notion of absolutes, since we cannot view things independent from their relationship with other things. Third, this also therefore promotes pluralism. Fourth, language is “deconstructed” and to be seen as relative. It does not bear universal truth but “only reflects social constructs pertinent to particular social and historical contexts.”

Robert Webber observes that these philosophical ideas have filled evangelicals with fear. Imagining that they are defending the faith, many of them are in fact engaged in defending modernist philosophy. However, Webber perceives that postmodern thought instead gives us new opportunities to rehabilitate such concepts as tradition and authority. We can find “fertile ground for contact and dialogue with post-modern philosophical thought.”

Third, we must consider the communications revolution.

In modernity, evangelical Christians have been committed to the use of verbal and analytical forms of communication to reach their generation. Faith has been explained as a system of thought characterized by inner coherence and logic. The Bible has been analyzed, theology systematized, and spirituality legalized.

The shift of postmodern communications to the power of symbolic communication is a call to return to the classical period when the church was an embodied experience of God expressed in life-changing rituals of immersed participation. (p. 24)

Robert Webber concluded that the classical tradition of Christianity would be the best form of faith to speak meaningfully to this postmodern world in which we live. To him, it is shaped by “mystery, holism, interpreted facts, community, and a combination of verbal and symbolic forms of communication.” The way forward for the church, therefore, is to restore this ethos, adapting it to fit the postmodern cultural situation.

Comments

  1. Without reading this post – “Ancient future”! What a fabulous concept. Like where were you before you were born…
    Going to bed. I’m not even reading this. That’s enough to make me happy.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Yes, “Ancient future”…interesting notion.

      Coincidentally, I just read these verses in 1 John the other day:
      “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:7-8, NIV)

      How can something be both OLD and NEW at the same time!? “Ancient future” kinda describes it, right?

      • Yes. I think eternity giggles, in a kind and understanding way, at time like a plaything. We, the time bound, are at such a disadvantage.

  2. Corwin Bligh says:

    “Ancient future Christianity”… “classic Christianity”…”maintaining a vital, organic, respectful connection to our Christian history and heritage”…”restoring a robust doctrine and practice of the church and her authority in the life of the faithful”…”practicing liturgical wisdom and integrity in our worship.”

    Boy, is it possible to load the language any more? When you put it this way, it almost makes you wonder what the Reformation was all about! Nothing against Catholics or Episcopals, but we don’t have to imitate them in order to respect them. If you want to be one, fine, go be one. But Baptists have their own tradition too (and it don’t involve men wearing dresses.)

    On the other hand, all them “revolutions” makes you wonder if everything is so relative, and we don’t really know what’s what anymore, why we don’t all just quit and be atheists. Or are we starting from the assumption that we have to have some kind of church, and so are just looking for a good way to justify going? Because if I want “mystery, holism, interpreted facts, community, and a combination of verbal and symbolic forms of communication” I could get all that from a gypsy fortune teller.

    • Corwin, this is an unfortunate sentiment that seems unwilling to engage ideas in a serious manner. This post reflects a philosophical shift that took place in our culture over 20 years ago and has been making its way through the Evangelical sub-culture since the mid-90’s. I appreciate your unwillingness to grapple with the challenges afforded by the graduation from Enlightenment Era thinking, Cartesian dualism, and the pursuit of a world where Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and fundamental Uncertainty prevail, but that is hardly a reason for dismissing those who are up for the challenge.

      • Rick—and Corwin, and Chaplain Mike—

        Jeri Massi, over at Blog on the Way [ http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/ ] has a lot to say about fundamentalism, particularly independent fundamental baptists. One of her books, Bitter Root: Atheistic Practices Embedded in Christian Fundamentalism, perhaps gets into this, but I’ll have to go back to the book. In my opinion, though, fundamentalism sees itself as defender of the faith while at the same time denying and destroying Webber’s “mystery, holism, interpreted facts, community, and a combination of verbal and symbolic forms of communication.” But I’ll let Jeri answer that.

        This is from the Amazon.com description of Bitter Root (also check out her book Schizophrenic Christianity. A must-read).

        Having documented the problem of clergy sex abuse in Christian Fundamentalism for 12 years, Jeri Massi presents the reader with undeniable evidence that Christian Fundamentalism is the product of several different influences, and one of them is atheism. Massi traces Christian Fundamentalist culture right back to Friedrich Nietzsche, Ivan Pavlov, and BF Skinner. She shows, from the Bible, that many practices and doctrines of Christian Fundamentalism have no basis in the Bible at all but are products of the atheistic teachers and philosophers of the previous century.

    • Corwin, one of the great, largely unrecognized contributions of the Reformers was their revival of interest in the Church Fathers – the eras of “classical Christianity.” One of their complaints against the Roman church of their day was that the church had moved away from the Fathers. Likewise, Webber is encouraging the church today to look to the period long before the Reformation or the era that prompted it: the first six centuries of the church.

      With all due respect, your comment betrays the very ignorance of church history that Webber is trying to correct.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Is this largely unrecognized? I’m not being snarky. This is a serious question. I think of this as the overarching theme of the Reformation and later Protestantism. If asked to provide a definition of “Protestant” I might go with a purely taxonomic approach. A first stab at it might be something like “A member of the Western Christian tradition that isn’t Catholic.” The other approach would be what you describe: Something like “A member of the Western Christian tradition that looks to the early church, giving it priority over–or even rejecting complete–later tradition.” What this means in practice varies wildly, of course. This doesn’t seem obscure me. Quite the opposite, it seems obvious. Perhaps this is the result of my personal background: Lutheran pastor’s kid who took Confirmation class moderately seriously and went on to be a history buff. Perhaps I so internalized it that I didn’t notice its absence in general discussions?

        • Yes in many circles it is recognized, but what I think comes first to most people’s minds today is that the Reformers were about going back to the Bible. The Church Fathers and that era remain relatively murky for many of us.

      • I have heard a few sermons on the issue- They labled it as Humanism – A short summary of Scriptures pertaining. 1.Jesus rebuked the religious people of the day stating you search the scriptures for in them you seek to find eternal life but you will not come to me that you may have life-. 2. Jesus said He would send another the Spirit of truth also known as the Spirit of life.

        The new testament states no man may confess Jesus as Lord except by the HolySpirit and Paull referances the Spirit many times even stating the carnal mind is at enmity to God and not subject to Him and the flesh wars against the Spirit. key being we have an inner guide and teacher hence the instruction receive the ingrafted Word which is able to save your soul.

        Which incidentally lines up with what Jesus taught concerning the heart parable which in the original language is soul. We also note what paul said to Timothey that same Spirit of Faith that was in your grandmother is the same Spirit in you. So in effect one can have the letter but the letter alone kills and the Spirit gives life. diferance being many of the early church Leaders not only did not deny the Word but acknowledged and entered into the relationship God desired.Thoughts ?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > If you want to be one, fine, go be one.

      Done.

      Which is a meta-question within this post [which the post does not ask]. If Evangelicalism, which is fundamentally capital-M Modern, undergoes this transformation… what will be their distinctive?

    • But Baptists have their own tradition too (and it don’t involve men wearing dresses.)

      Lol, oh yes, they do! It’s called sticking a wet finger to the wind. Throw away whatever the previous generation did if it doesn’t appeal to the broadest possible market share.

      But yes, let’s talk about Baptist tradition, shall we? Generally speaking, they hate the word. Why don’t you try getting some Baptists to touch their roots. They seem to have an allergic reaction to it. I’ll stick to taming bears, it’s a bit safer.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Lol, oh yes, they do! It’s called sticking a wet finger to the wind. Throw away whatever the previous generation did if it doesn’t appeal to the broadest possible market share.

        “OOOOO! POP-ular!”
        — Quinn from MTV’s Daria

  3. Robert F says:

    “Second, this undercuts the notion of absolutes, since we cannot view things independent from their relationship with other things.”

    This very statement, which contains an absolute assertion even as it claims that post-modernism undercuts absolute assertions, and so is a self-defeating statement, is typical of post-modernism, and exhibits a serious blind spot in the concept itself. I don’t mind the language of paradox, which can enrich discussion and express what we encounter at the boundaries of experience, but paradox should be stated in a self-aware, undisguised way; otherwise, it leads to the suspicion that the one employing it might be making a philosophical power grab, by doing the very thing they deny can legitimately be done by their critics, or anyone else for that matter.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      But, to be fair, you cannot have a worldview at all without beginning with a handful of axiomatic statements. And there is some merit to post-modernisms claim of relativity. For me the claim is a bridge too far, but how far that bridge reaches depends on every single given author – it seems what is needed is humility. Most thinking people have recognized the limits of their understanding – a few loud prominent sects have failed to do so, and thus all sects gets painted with the broad brush as penalty for not being on the street corner screaming at people? For me that is where these kinds of things fall apart. Modernism and then post-modernism, were prominent, they were not utterly pervasive – going back and finding reasonable dissenting voices is not all that hard.

      From the article: “encouraging Christians to think in “paradigms”

      This is a terrible terrible idea. I am sick and tired of paradigms. I’d much rather have people who think in terms of facts. Paradigms got us here in the first place. We needs less of this, not more. I

      From the article: “to recognize that our world has moved from a “modern” to a “postmodern” paradigm”

      Is it? Because what is being described here as ancient-faith sounds a great deal like post-postmodernism – “the gradual dawn of a post-Postmodernism that seeks to temper reason with faith.” [Tom Turner]. Also known as meta-modernism or post-millenialism [not to be confused in any way with Evangelical millenialism]. As I look at the next generation Eric Gans’ post-millenialism seems pretty much on the mark. So pursuing this postmoderm paradigm is just another way that churches that adopt “paradigms” will be out-of-the-loop. Post-millenialism explains the millenial generation’s often remarked upon lower-case-o optimism that distinguishes it from my own generation-of-despair.

      Evanglicals, if their neurosis is driven by a fear of postmodernism, can take a relaxing breath. Postmodernism is dying. And they will not be the only ones who do not mourn its passing. With postmodernism was always a subtext of victomhood and isolation; which are ugly and decidedly *unhelpful* paradigmatic subtexts. If I have to be in a paradigm I am happy to be moving into post-postmodernism.

      • Robert F says:

        But, Adam, if post-modernism has a worldview, then it has a meta-narrative and a set of absolutes, which it should admit when it engages in discussion with those who differ.

        I’m not an evangelical, and I don’t share their concerns. But I do believe that philosophy should be consistent and honest, two thing that I’ve failed to see in post-modern philosophy.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Are these philosophies? They are on some level. But what this author is talking about is not really a gelled philosophy – he is talking about an intellectual movement, or even an intellectual mood – where certain notions are in-favor and certain notions are in dis-favor. It is mistaken to approach these things as philosophies. Most people do not have philosophies [perhaps nobody does], people have intellectual frames, with soggy borders.

          > I’m not an evangelical, and I don’t share their concerns.

          I am not one anymore. But I got a huge dose of their anti-post-modernism while I was there. it is something they are **terrified** of. And something they have never answered effectively [IMNSHO]. In part because they want to argue with it – which is exactly something one cannot do. Postmodernism is by its own precepts invulnerable to argument. What it is vulnerable to is assertions of being useless, boring, and tedious. Which is where post-postmodernism [whatever you want to call it ] comes in.

          > But I do believe that philosophy should be consistent and honest,

          Philosophies are creations of man; consistency and honesty are a very high bar. Especially when you have books to sell. Postmodernism has sold a lot of books.

          > two thing that I’ve failed to see in post-modern philosophy.

          We agree, completely. There is a great deal of self-assured hubris in postmodernism. Postmodernism and Evangelicalism, in that regard, make ironic arch-enemies.

          • Mule Chewing Briars says:

            There is a great deal of self-assured hubris in postmodernism. Postmodernism and Evangelicalism, in that regard, make ironic arch-enemies.

            Like Orthanc grinning at Minas Morgul across a plain filled with dead men’s bones.

          • Robert F says:

            ” Postmodernism has sold a lot of books.”

            And generated a lot of tenured, well remunerated academic positions and careers.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And now we have Post-Post-Modernism now that Post-Modernism is showing its age. (And Post-Modernism began when Modernism — which by the very definition of the word means “the latest” — showed its age.)

            From
            “My Little Po-Mo, My Little Po-Mo…”
            to
            “In the Florida Keys…
            There’s this place called Po-Po-Mo…”

      • Evanglicals, if their neurosis is driven by a fear of postmodernism, can take a relaxing breath. Postmodernism is dying. And they will not be the only ones who do not mourn its passing.

        I remember hearing a Q&A session with NT Wright that asked about postmodernism, and he basically said that by its very nature postmodernism is a transitional philosophical paradigm with a very short shelf life, and what he was very interested in seeing was what would take its place. I’d agree wit Bp. Wright.

    • Robert F says:

      ” Fourth, language is ‘deconstructed’ and to be seen as relative. It does not bear universal truth but ‘only reflects social constructs pertinent to particular social and historical contexts.'”

      Except, of course, the language of the deconstructor, which is assumed to “bear universal truth” that encompasses all “social constructs” and the “social and historical contexts” connected with them. Otherwise, the deconstructor’s language would be only a local and provisional (and inaccurate) expression, bearing no universal implications, and it could in no way rule out the possibility that other language could bear universal truth in all social constructs connected with all social and historical contexts.

      This is the problem with all the post-modern philosophy I’ve come across: it is habitually doing what it claims can not be done. That means that those who hold it either haven’t rigorously thought through the philosophical and logical implications of what they’re saying.

      Or, following one of the often unspoken tenets that post-modern philosophy inherited in its legacy from Nietzsche, they believe that the discipline of philosophy is an expression of social power in which it is legitimate to use non-sense arguments to achieve your objectives as long as those who disagree with you don’t notice what you’re doing, and/or you can get away with it. But that used to be called sophism.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > they believe that the discipline of philosophy is an expression of social power in which it is
        > legitimate to use non-sense arguments to achieve your objectives as long as those who
        > disagree with you don’t notice what you’re doing

        You’ve nailed it. Add in the notion of victimhood that is nearly always a subtext of postmodernism and you have a philosophy optimized for exerting influence, especially regarding the vulnerable and ignorant.

        • Both of you have NAILED IT. Thanks.

          Would it not be more useful to say that all “world views” are contingent upon a changing world?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            But if we set aside the Postmodernism label – which I think is appropriate, surveying the texts, it is the author using the label that seemed appropriate for the day – and accept this as a form of post-postmodernism [or whatever you want to call it] – the author has a lot to offer. He impressed numerous people who write here regularly, none of whom are intellectual light-weights.

            Certainly postmodernism + religion/faith is no longer Postmodernism. It can’t be.

            I certainly hope Evangelicals answer the call: “evangelicals must rethink their enmeshment with modernity and construct a theology that will be consistent with historic Christianity yet relevant to our new time in culture”. They have a network and the resources to do a lot of good. But I’m skeptical as what I hear [outside of IM] is far far far from this kind of self-reflection. In the end, is it not easier for the parishioner to simply walk across the street, to that other church?

          • Robert F says:

            ” He impressed numerous people who write here regularly, none of whom are intellectual light-weights.”

            Yes, the perspectives generated by postmodernism have something important to contribute to the discussion, but when it claims too much without warrant, as it routinely does, postmodernism needs to be introduced to a measure of humility, and a little logical and philosophical rigor. In other words, it needs to be relativized.

            • Robert, it is important to remember that Webber is responding to postmodernism as a Christian who is trying to live out the faith in a particular cultural ethos rather than engaging it in an academic manner. He is concerned that those who are concerned to practice and pass on the Gospel don’t mistake a commitment to modernist thinking with faithfulness to Christ. His discussion of postmodernism need only accurately describe its broad contours and effects on our culture and the people who live herein.

          • Robert F says:

            “Would it not be more useful to say that all ‘world views’ are contingent upon a changing world?”

            That would be useful, but it is an inclusive, universal assertion, the kind that the philosophical perspectives of postmodernism and deconstructionism say they want to get right away from.

            Unfortunately for them, the very structure of language itself pushes us to make some universal, inclusive assertions, however open we may keep them to correction (remember that the digestive system is open–at both ends), whether we want to or not.

          • Robert F says:

            CM,
            That’s a fair statement. I don’t mean to be unfair to what Webber is saying

            But I think it would also be fair for him to introduce some criticisms of postmodernism, as I assume he does modernism. The tone of the quotes attributed to him in the post makes me think that he is a little too sanguine about the complementarity between postmodernism and Ancient-Future Faith; I’m not convinced they are that compatible, and I believe postmodernism presents as many, though different, problems for Christianity as modernism.

          • Robert F says:

            For example, CM, the primitive Christian proclamation, “Jesus is Lord”, can find no tenable place either in modernism, as an absolute assertion based on a logical proposition, or in postmodernism, as an existential and universal affirmation rooted in revelatory disclosure as given to the church. Neither can the affirmations and assertion contained in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. These faith proclamations do not fit either into postmodernism or modernism, and they carry implicit criticisms of both.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You’ve nailed it. Add in the notion of victimhood that is nearly always a subtext of postmodernism and you have a philosophy optimized for exerting influence, especially regarding the vulnerable and ignorant.

          And “victimhood” becomes just another weapon at hand in the endless Power Struggle. I am Right, You are Wrong, Win or Die.

          “A cold Iron Throne
          Holds a boy barely grown;
          His crown based on lies,
          You Win or You Die,
          Game of Thrones…”

  4. I have appreciated Webber’s A-F work(s) for years, and agree with much of it, but is this part true?: “…there is the scientific revolution. We have moved from the more mechanistic perspective of the Enlightenment regarding the way the world works to an understanding in which mystery is once more prevalent.”

    Is that what the majority of people are seeing, or are they seeing less mystery due to discoveries in science?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Most of my sphere is successful education affluent, and younger then myself – I’d say that at least in the influential, but certainly not representative, group I’d say that this statement regarding mystery is true. It is also encoded into a lot of pulp/pop-fiction; you can just put quantum in front of anything and it is enough to make the story congeal to disbelief-suspension [which is not meant as a `dis`, every generation has its tropes].

      As for me, I believe at least this statement is on the money.

      And it is simply fun – IBM’s research and experiments into quantum-entanglenment based data transmission seem darn near magick – way beyond anything my eigth-grade science teacher would have ever believed possible. If you think modern networks are pervasive and fast … provided these technologies prove commercially repeatable … you ain’t seen *NOTHING* yet [for better or worse]. *Instant* perfectly secure high-speed data transmission ***regardless of distance***. Einstein said ‘Nothing can travel faster than light, except information’, now we are seeing actual fruits of that statement.

      Magic has returned, it just walks hand in hand with science. Information Theory, at least for layman interpretations, has lots of room for the universe to wiggle.

      • Patrick kyle says:

        On the old TV series Babylon 5 (or was it Space Above and Beyond ?) There was a race of aliens called the Techno Mage whose technology was so advanced it appeared to be magic. Its fascinating what we are able to now.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          My old D&D Dungeonmaster used to say that at the quantum level “reality bubbles and boils” and that “physics shaded into metaphysics some twenty years ago but nobody will admit to it”.

    • It seems to me that “discoveries in science” and “technological advance” are perceived as two different things by Public At Large. The technology we hold in our hands or set on a desk or build our houses with are not perceived as “mysterious”–that is until you try to figure out exactly how it all “works”.

      • Well put, Tom.

        On the other hand, as far as new discoveries go, there’s the conflation of science and public policy in the media one must contend with. Even top-flight newspapers’ Science Sections consist primarily of issue-oriented articles on important topics like species loss, climate change, food security, etc. Actual science-for-the-heck-of-it tends to get less prominent treatment. There’s nothing wrong with the policy-oriented articles per se, but it does produce the perception of science AS public policy advocacy.

        Regarding technological advance, there’s also a sort of curious reductionism at work at this particular point in time: “technology” as a term has become practically synonymous with “personal electronic device.” I sometimes wonder whether, e.g., some of the lack of enthusiasm/outright hostility towards alternative energy development exhibited by some in the US has more to do with the fact that you can’t hold a windmill in your hand than with the usual political dimensions.

        Overall, there’s just a lot of complexity and confusion at the technology-science nexus.

    • Adam and Tom have nailed it. Indeed Weber’s statement is accurate since real scientists acknowledge the fundamentally unknowable nature of the universe at some level. Whether they are quoting Heisenberg, Goedel, or just Brian Greene, serious scientists are quite comfortable talking about the limits of knowledge. I’m reading “The Future of the Mind” by Kaku Michio and it reflects this known/unknown/unknowable split in a number of different ways. One statement about the mind is that, “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” In every field of endeavor, science is always looking for the border between the unknown and the unknowable. Popularizers of science (including Evangelicals who rely on it to debunk other areas of it) are uncomfortable with this concept and rarely report it accurately.

  5. I’m at the point in life for the past few years by attending and serving at an Episcopal and Baptist church simultaneously and ebb and flow between the two as my heart is able to stand each other’s ideology and politics.

  6. It may be out of our reach as the creatures we are to NOT think and act in terms of some absolutes. It seems absolutely necessary for the maintenance of biological life. But, I’m just an old-school Animal Science major who spent much of his life producing meat for the dinner table….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s not only Sith who deal in Absolutes?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > we are to NOT think and act in terms of some absolutes

      Perhaps, ultimately we must *act* as though something is *true* or *false*. But we do not necessarily have to hold axioms as inviolate intellectually. The-best-understanding-I-can-currently-achieve is a perfectly sound basis for action.

      • Adam, I wasn’t suggesting that we “hold axioms as inviolate”, rather, that when it comes to action we are wired to think in binary terms. However, in any given progression of actions the circumstances are in flux therefore our binary interaction within that progression is also in some kind of flux.

        Think about it. While you momentarily thought about “it” your brain was essentially only doing that one conscious act–however momentary that may have been. A CPU can only do ONE thing at a time–and that is why we now use “dual core” processors. Two, or four, “heads” are better than one. Some people by nature and/or practice have faster “single core” processors than others. However, to quote Marty Robbins, “If speed was all that mattered then rabbits would rule the world.”

  7. I am enjoying my Ancient-Future experience in the Episcopal church we’re attending. The connections are extensive in both directions of the time-line.

  8. “Three Streams in the Post-Evangelical Wilderness”

    I first go back to thoughts about the coming evangelical collapse. Without getting into all of it, I would like all to remember Michael’s thoughts about what will be left-( a.)Evangelical churches further compromised( b.) Catholicism and Orthodoxy benefit in numbers( c.) A Small evangelical segment working a theological reconstruction and recovery (d.) Emerging becoming smaller (e.) SBC decline (f.) Charismatic/Pentecostal getting largest numbers of evangelicals (g.) Mission outreach from Asia/Africa (h.) Evangelical parachurch and media decline (I.) Evangelical “mission” giving and sending decline.

    The three streams and today’s post are within this broader framework. Specifically, Ancient-future considerations are within a small evangelical segment recovery.

    I really disagree with Adam Tauno Williams that post-modernism is dying. And for that reason I am way more interested Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Faith than emerging or New Calvinism. But I am very practical by nature and agree with the ethos of Adam Tauno Williams post. That is, I also much prefer facts to paradigm shifts.
    I don’t think trying to shift Sunday service(or worship methods) is the correct approach( and that isn’t Webber, but it is interpreted that way many times).

    So to bottom line for me. There is the negative- Go back to Michael Spencer’s results- many an evangelical church is to be avoided. Many will go Catholic or EO. Many, many will try Charisma/Pentecostal. May I say that I have been there/ done that( I have explored and done all three). I can’t go there. I can’t be emerging as it has been explored and New Calvinism is an anathema to me.

    There is the positive- It seems to me God attempts to woo people through love, character , and wisdom. At heart I know that in any marketplace of ideas( ancient, modern, post-modern) God’s kingdom is more just and viable than any philosophy or religion. A church praxis must be faithful to the momentum and direction of the Bible stories. Our bottom line in thought, word, and deed has to be in trusting Christ one can experience mercy, wisdom, and empowerment in actual space and time.

    It isn’t ancient/future, emerging, or New Calvinist that I’m searching for or flowing in. It’s a practical walk and talk. In church I prefer one that has many types of meal fellowships as opposed to preaching.

    • This gives some helpful perspective from our blog’s history. Thanks.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > is the correct approach( and that isn’t Webber, but it is interpreted that way many times).

      I’m curious; if changing services [not adopting classical forms] is not Webber’s intent, what is the practical day to day impact of Webber?

  9. Like Chaplain Mike, I’ve also been heavily influenced by Webber’s writings. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to overstate how much his book Worship is a Verb impacted me and led me on the road to becoming an Anglican priest. That said, these books are all over a decade old at this point (some much older), and I’ve come to wonder if there was some naivete in the mix, especially with regard to how flexible some of the Great Tradition is when we go deeper, and how truly compatible it is with postmodernism.

    I really wish Webber were still around to see the budding schism in is own denomination, and to give a “10-20 years later” reflection on some of this.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I’ve come to wonder if there was some naivete in the mix

      I am with the Evangelicals on this score; “naivete” is a mild term. Christianity and genuine Postmodernism is a terribly awkward mix. If Christianity depends on the notion of Revelation then reconciling it with Postmodernism’s notion of narrative is going to be a rough fit.

      Of course there is truth in Postmodern’s emphasis on narrative, perspective, and the imprecision of language. But if you add Revelation I do not believe you have Postmodernism anymore; although you can certainly borrow from Postmodernism in its understanding of limitations of human understanding. With Revelation, or even a notion of Natural Law, you have accepted something which cannot exist with the sphere of Postmodernism, you have made something else.

      • It always seemed to me that Webber was less about trumpeting the supposed virtues of postmodernism than to offer his “Ancient-Future” ideas as an answer to dealing with the rise of postmodernism. He was certainly critical of Evangelicalism’s apparent over-reliance on the core assumptions of modernism, but he seemed to be less about agreeing with the core assumptions of postmodernism than he was about identifying them as a factor with which Evangelicalism was not quite equipped to deal.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Upon a reread it does seem the high emphasis on Postmodern XYZ is more in the post-text then in the quoted text.

          The statement “the classical tradition of Christianity would be the best form of faith to speak meaningfully to this postmodern world in which we live” is one I can get behind [although I’ve already commented that I do not believe Postmodernism is what The Church is facing, at least not with Millennials – and from many retiring baby-boomers I here a lot of comments that seem to indicate they are entering a similar intellectual orbit as the Millenials, which is very interesting].

  10. David Cornwell says:

    “I really wish Webber were still around to see the budding schism in is own denomination, and to give a “10-20 years later” reflection on some of this.”

    I think we are going through a great “shaking out” of the Church as a whole these days. There is a sifting, sorting, and shaking that will take time to happen, and from our perspective we have no idea what it looks like. I hope it is from God, and not simply the results of our capitalist market mentality that takes us from place to place looking for satisfaction. I know I have to guard against that in my own life. I grow dissatisfied, and look out yonder at what might be better, even at my advanced age.

  11. Dana Ames says:

    Fr Isaac/Obed at 12:38 pm has summed up Webber very well.

    Folks, the point is not the relative merits of the postmodern discussion. It’s not about fact versus subjectivity. Webber was trying to help us be able to talk about who God is and what God is up to, and discuss that with people where they, and we, are today. We have to relate in love with people where they are right now, and this has been the task of Christians from the beginning.

    AFF came along at a critical point for me. I had just finished Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy,” which had a massive effect on my thinking. I was contemplating how Christians could interact with postmodernism, the Emergent thing was on the rise, and I saw some important connecting threads among them all. The argument that the church went off the rails somewhere between 100 and 200 AD because of a “takeover” by the big, bad Roman Catholic church/bishops did not hold water for me any more, because I actually started reading church history – from books written by Protestants… AFF gave me a basic framework into which I could fit pre-Reformation writings I was beginning to read, and my thoughts thereon. Reading Webber encouraged me to keep going back in time, and what I found was consistent with what he was presenting. I found commonalities between what Webber was saying about what the first Christians believed and what I was beginning to read in N.T. Wright’s “The New Testament and the People of God” about why the first Christians believed what they did. At this point I was nowhere near even considering becoming Orthodox. I just wanted an integrated, seamless, holistic Christ-centered theology instead of one that, for me, was beginning to shred at an alarming rate.

    I am a “big picture” kind of thinker, and AFF was very helpful for me as a sort of bridge from one place in my line of inquiry at the time to the next thing, and also to the interest in the emerging church I had then. It would be interesting to know how Webber would have thought about things 20 years later – but the fact that we have moved from that place does not negate the value of Webber’s work in any way. What I took away from it helped me navigate my own journey more than it helped me formulate good news for people around me; I needed to take a few more steps before that latter happened. Nonetheless, It was a great help overall.

    Let’s not be so quick to write off what Webber is actually saying simply because the conditions into which he spoke, and/or our understandings of those conditions, have changed somewhat.

    Dana

    • I am a “big picture” kind of thinker, and AFF was very helpful for me as a sort of bridge from one place in my line of inquiry at the time to the next thing, and also to the interest in the emerging church I had then. It would be interesting to know how Webber would have thought about things 20 years later – but the fact that we have moved from that place does not negate the value of Webber’s work in any way. What I took away from it helped me navigate my own journey more than it helped me formulate good news for people around me; I needed to take a few more steps before that latter happened. Nonetheless, It was a great help overall.

      That was largely my experience, too, Dana. In an attempt to try to incorporate the AF ideas into evangelism, I did indeed get Ancient Future Evangelism, which was really good food for thought, but not really the most practical tool in the “formulate good news for people around me” department.

    • Spot on, Dana.

  12. Thanks for posting this. Webber’s work seems really interesting but really frustrating, so I’d like to offer an objection. Maybe you all can help me to get a clearer, more sympathetic idea of what Webber is saying, but in any event, I appreciate your hearing my objection.

    Disclaimer: I’m going on what I get out of the post above–I’ve not read any of Webber’s books. If I misrepresent Webber in what follows, I welcome correction and clarification.

    Webber has a lot to say about ‘modernism’, and heaven knows what he has in mind. My contention as to what he has in mind is this: Webber’s ‘modernism’ a nebulous mass of superficial resemblances and loose historical links. I support this with a paradigm case: his treatment of propositions, which will show that Webber’s ‘modernism’ is just a loosely confederated horde of strawmen, which Webber blows aside in an effort to defeat anything that smells like ‘modernism’ with guilt by association. And this is very bad argument.

    Now, Webber seems to think that ‘modernism’ can’t adequately account for the meaning of the biblical (or any) text. He seems to think that understanding the content of the bible can’t be grasping propositional meaning because this commits us to saying that there is only one right reading for every text. This is a strawman..

    Here’s how we can understand the content of the bible propositionally. Propositions are the meanings of sentences. When we utter a sentence, we are expressing a proposition. E.g., when I utter, “The cat is on the mat,” I mean that the cat is on the mat. I express this proposition: that the cat is on the mat.

    But obviously that doesn’t exhaust what we mean when we utter many sentences. If I say to you, “The milk is in the fridge,” I could mean several different things. Had you been making a bowl of cereal, I imply that the milk is good (if the milk were bad, then you could rightly charge me with having misled you). But if you’re taking out the trash, I might with the same sentence imply that the milk is bad. So, we can not only express propositions through the sentences that we utter, but we can also implicate additional propositions which go beyond the meaning of the sentence itself. This is usually called implicature. Here’s the lesson: we can say a lot more with our sentences than what those sentences mean with no need to abandon propositions.

    Since we can say a lot more with our sentences than what our sentences mean, we can see how we can communicate with different levels of meaning, through the use of symbols, and so on. And in accounting for the meaning of complex texts, biblical and otherwise, there is no need to give up on propositions. So forget about this strawman who thinks that there is only one correct meaning for every text as the representative of those of us who think that sentences express propositions, and that facts are true propositions.

    Webber is picking on an implausible view (that there is exactly one correct meaning of each biblical sentence) in order to saddle ‘modernism’ with it and then attack ‘modernism’ on the grounds that his strawman fell apart. I think that his arguments against ‘modernism’ on other points are guilty of this maneuver also, e.g., his claims about certainty, subjects and objects, pluralism, etc.

    So, Webber doesn’t show that there is a ‘paradigm shift’ toward postmodernism, and from where I’m standing Anglo-American philosophy looks nothing like what Webber describes. What Webber in fact shows that a few naive commitments which seem ‘modernistic’ are just that–naive.

    Thanks again for the post, and thank you for hearing me out.

    • Dana Ames says:

      JIG,

      I got no sense whatsoever that Webber was setting up any kind of straw man re modernism. All he was saying was that the things Christians used to say that got us a hearing within a modernist framework no longer get us that hearing, because there is now something else floating around out there that is not as dependent on the modernist framework. He offers some reasons why he thinks the theology of the first 800 years of Christianity can get us that hearing, if we are willing to become familiar with it.

      “Ancient-Future Faith” is worth reading, not least because it can begin to fill in the huge gap of ignorance about what the early Christians actually held to be important (intentional ignorance based on fear of Catholicism and/or intellectual input, in many cases) . It’s not about abandoning propositions or jettisoning scripture.

      Dana

      • I was going to answer, but Dana said it well.

      • Robert F says:

        ” All he was saying was that the things Christians used to say that got us a hearing within a modernist framework no longer get us that hearing, because there is now something else floating around out there that is not as dependent on the modernist framework.”

        I think postmodernism is completely dependent on the modernist framework for its survival, the way the suburbs are dependent on the cities. In fact, I don’t think postmodernism says anything that wasn’t already being said in one form or another, at one time or another, in modernism. If modernism were somehow to completely die as a cultural influence in our lives, postmodernism would die with it, because it has no content of its own. As Noam Chomsky said, postmodernism has no principles or theories, provides no evidence, and offers no explanations that weren’t already offered before it came along.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Robert, I actually agree with you re the relationship between modernism and postmodernism. It’s just that most of us couldn’t see that 20 years ago; we were expecting more possibilities from pomo than it ended up being able to deliver.

          Dana

      • Thanks, Dana; your response is really helpful.

        Let me see if I’ve got this. Webber isn’t really interested in whether or not what he calls postmodernism is the right way to go. He’s mainly reporting on the sociological fact that lots of people endorse this sort of thing (whether rightly or wrongly is beside the point), and then making the point that the ancient stuff is well-poised to address their concerns.

        No doubt there are real concerns here, but I’m not convinced that thinking about them in terms of a ‘postmodern paradigm’ is helpful. I worry that thinking in terms of paradigms obscures the differences between the actual ground-level commitments one might have, for modernism covers a multitude of views (but I think that your response may help us to work though this worry, too). I mean, Webber’s paradigms seem way too vague in terms of what they’re supposed to be committed to (centrally or otherwise). At least with Thomas Kuhn (who introduced this kind of paradigm talk in the ’60’s), scientific paradigms were supposed to have commonly recognized central commitments–‘little’ paradigms in the sense of, e.g., model experiments, around which the ‘big’ paradigm is oriented. The point is that modernism and postmodernism are too slippery to pin down in such a way as to object to them *as such* or attribute them *as such* to any cohesive group of people. What this suggests to me is that insofar as Webber has a point, we would do better to develop it not in terms of modernism and postmodernism as paradigms, but rather in terms of more specific commitments that people hold to (or even smaller-scale frameworks). So Webber may be quite right about the ability of this ancient stuff to address the concerns that people have, but at a highly approximate level that we would do well to unpack a bit more.

        TL;DR, I still think that it’s misleading to think about all of this in terms of modern and postmodern paradigms, though you folks have significantly helped my sympathy for what Webber is trying to do, and I’d really like to see what he has to say in more detail (add that to the reading list). And for that I am very grateful to you.

        Thanks again!

  13. David Cornwell says:

    An excellent study along the same line is a book by Rowan Greer, Professor of Anglican Studies at Yale Divinity School, entitled “Broken Lights and Mended Lives.” (Greer died about a month ago.) I am only about one-fourth of the way into the book, so cannot comment extensively. It is a probe into the theological visions of Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine and how their teachings shaped the church’s modes of interaction with the family, society, and government. So far a very fascinating book.

    A moving passage describes “Christian passover.” The feast celebrated Christ’s death and Resurrection together and was when catechumens were baptized. The feast itself was preceded by prayer, fasting, and exorcism on the Saturday evening by a vigil lasting all night. “A ceremony conducted by the dim light of oil lamps must have made a profound impression on people who had been fasting for several days and were used to going to bed and getting up with the sun…. At dawn the baptisms took place and were followed by the pascal Eucharist.”

    It all revolved around Christ’s death and Resurrection and the believers’ participation in that story. Another source says that the newly baptized were given a cup of milk and honey together with the bread and wine to remind them that they had ritually entered the true promised land.

  14. Robert F says:

    Actually, the relationship between science and postmodernism is not an altogether friendly or congenial one. Just the opposite. The scientists are in the big building with the big budgets trying to figure out and explain how everything works; the deconstructionists/postmodernists are in the the smaller, older buildings with names like Linden Hall, supported by ever dwindling budgets, teaching their students through literature, philosophy and art that things are not in fact explicable, nor is any meaning or reality fixed or substantial. Could two ways of approaching the world be any different?

  15. I appreciate what Webber is trying to communicate, which I would succinctly summarize as “even if evangelicalism is right, it might not be relevant” because of the paradigms it uses to communicate. However, I have two reservations that I wrote in the margins of AFF and will condense here. The first reservation is that post-modern is not the same as pre-modern. The Scriptures were written, the church was birthed, and the doctrines were determined in a premodern context. My concern is that postmodernism as our general ethos is as ill-equipped to handle the Christian tradition as modernism. My second reservation is that there is a small but vocal evangelical educational complex that – though not explicitly – embraces some modernist philosophy especially in epistemology and language (for example, I have actually heard Hayakawa’s abstraction ladder being presented as a positive tool for preaching, despite the fact that it is a constructivist theory based on the works of Jean Piaget and has since been superseded by Korzybski’s work). If they cannot see how the intellectual climate of modernism does not fit with (contradicts is too strong a term, I think) historic Christian teaching, then I’m not sure Webber’s project has much chance of success.

    • Robert F says:

      ” My concern is that postmodernism as our general ethos is as ill-equipped to handle the Christian tradition as modernism. ‘

      Yes.

      But, I would add, as I’ve been thinking about it, postmodernism does not fit the Christian tradition for the same reasons that modernism didn’t: the primacy of skepticism in both.

      • That’s an interesting perspective. Contemporary philosophy is basically unanimous in its assessment that post-modernism is the natural end of modernism. This is largely due to the skepticism component. However, the major component of modernism that (I think) doesn’t work with traditional Christianity is the primacy of the individual in the appropriation and arbitration of truth. This obviously doesn’t fit with Jesus’ statement “I am the truth.” It is concerning to me that the epistemology embraced by many evangelicals is fundamentally unjustifiable with Jesus’ claim.

        • “However, the major component of modernism that (I think) doesn’t work with traditional Christianity is the primacy of the individual in the appropriation and arbitration of truth. This obviously doesn’t fit with Jesus’ statement ‘I am the truth.’ ”

          It is skepticism that led modernism to the primacy of the individual in the appropriation and arbitration of truth; postmodernism has applied the same skepticism to the individual him or herself, thereby deconstructing the self. That’s why I find it impossible to have any confidence in talk about postmodernism emphasizing community; postmodernism does nothing to reverse the deconstruction that modernism applied to communities. It’s a matter of wishful thing rather than reconstruction. There’ no there there.

          As for Jesus’ statement “I am the truth,” postmodernism applies the same deconstruction to the self of Jesus as to any other self. It can do no other

          • Dana Ames says:

            As I understand it, pomo was not about deconstructing the self. As literary and sociologic theory, it was about deconstructing the things people use to cover up agendas, in order for the agendas to be seen for what they really were. It was actually very much a kind of search for truth.

            Dana

          • Derrida, the high priest of deconstructionist literary theory and philosophy, and an intellectual trailblazer of postmodernism, infamously wrote “There is nothing outside the text,” and when he said nothing, he meant nothing, including the self. The self, for Derrida and his progeny in deconstructionism, is a text and must be analyzed, deconstructed, the same way as any other text.

            It’s not unusual to hear deconstructionists refer to the self as an imperial fiction, and to advance the idea the there is no self, only multiple social and political selves that shift from and merge into each other, with an indeterminate void at the center. To my thinking, the religious philosophy most compatible with deconstructionism and postmodernism is Buddhism, with its doctrines of no-self and dependent origination.

            It’s not just a literary and sociological theory, but also a philosophical one.

  16. OK, I bought the Ancient-Future Faith book. Amazon didn’t have a Kindle version, and I bought it used from Goodwill Industries, so it will be a few days before I can read it. But I’m looking forward to it.

  17. Corwin Bligh says:

    Post-modernism is just a fad. There are lots of better intellectuals than them. Mark my words, it’ll come and go, but regular “pre-modernists” will still be here. It’s like modern art. What ordinary person even cares about that stuff?

    You know, it’s possible to “engage in ideas in a serious manner” without degenerating into a bunch of nonsense. Thanks to the Reformation, now anybody can pick up the Bible and read it for hisself. One extreme is to say the Bible don’t mean what it says it means, but needs to be interpreted by some theologian. The other is to say it don’t mean anything it all, but we can all decide for ourselves what we want it to mean, and next thing you know you’re having gay weddings with guitar music.

    Who are these “church fathers” you think are so important, that we can’t understand the Bible without them? Maybe the Bible is too short, then. Maybe we need to put in a few more books! How about the book of Nicolaitians? If they say anything different than the Apostle Paul, then they can’t be all that important, can they? There’s a reason the ancient church got corrupted and taken over by the Roman Empire. They replaced the Bible with man-made doctrines and works righteousness, like all those monks meditating in graveyards.

    • One extreme is to say the Bible don’t mean what it says it means, but needs to be interpreted by some theologian. The other is to say it don’t mean anything it all, but we can all decide for ourselves what we want it to mean
      I fail to understand how you can distinguish between these two. Are you studied in philosophy and epistemology?

      • Corwin Bligh says:

        One ways gets you secular humanism (or relativism, or whatever you want to call it). The other way puts a priest in between you and God, whose job is to tell you how to get right with God. But Christianity is not a religion like other religions. It teaches that we can never be justified through our own efforts, but only through the grace of Jesus Christ. Do “ancient future Christians” even have a personal relationship with Christ? How do they know that they’re saved? Not by arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or whether Adam had a belly-button, I tell you! No, the Bible alone is a true and sufficient guide to the Christian life. And in my opinion, epistemology is a cult.

    • Oh, Corwin. Where do I begin? If you are open to advice, I’d counsel you to do more listening and less haranguing.

    • Ooh, I want to be a monk and meditate in a graveyard! Sounds awesome!

      • Even more kinky: Meditate in that graveyard while there’s a gay wedding going on. With guitar music.

  18. David Cornwell says:

    All the discussion about “modern” vs “postmodern” is simply a discussion about two different ways of looking at the world. In our discussion, it applies to the world as we see it as Christians, as people of the Resurrection. A pagan world only has one set of descriptors, those that are modern. We have better ones, call it what we may. Not having eyes to see, the world it will never understand this world of ours. And we do not have to use their descriptors, we use our own. Some of those were used by the early church. Now we are reclaiming them.

    Some continue to say that Jesus never existed. We know better. Some will say the dead cannot be raised. Again, we know something different. What they know is modern way. Ours is the world of the Kingdom of God. Modern eyes cannot see it. We are better off when we refuse to use the same frames of reference used by the world, that of modern humanity. When we continue to use this terminology we only confuse ourselves.

    It is difficult for me to understand some of the defensiveness in this discussion.