Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 3rd, 2014 by Joel Watts

So, I’m going to be preaching soon on Fear to Faith #wvumc @energion

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I will be preaching/ lecturing/ teaching/ speaking/ talking/ chatting/ jish-joshing at a local UMC church in mid-March. The topic will be based roughly on moving from fear (i.e., fundamentalism) to faith (i.e., reasonable Christianity). In preparing for my sermon series, 3 nights, I decided immediately to stick to the lectionary. I will use the Revised Common Lectionary covering two weeks (the second week begins on Sunday).

I want to address several issues during the series. I will cover  the marks of fundamentalism and why they are dangerous. They are essentially:

  • biblicism
  • separatism
  • militancy
  • premillennialism

I will not cover premillennialism because it is too tricky of a situation to tackle and it is a topic of doctrine, thus the pastor should handle it. The others I will easily cover and in doing so, hope to show why Christians need the institutional church rather than this idea of “me and Jesus.”

Thus far, I have selected the follow texts:

  • Matthew 4.1-11 – Bread Alone, you say? Here, I will talk about the temptation in sola scriptura and how it separates us from the Great Tradition.
  • Romans 5.12-19, with a focus on 5.15 specifically. I will talk about the extremes in American Christianity. The sinners and the sinless and how that which is in the middle is Grace. Fundamentalism is hyper-focused on sin and sees it everywhere. Is that healthy? Are we to live in fear? If sin is everywhere, then Christ is pointless. (Combine the extremes, and you will have the true center – Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel)
  • Genesis 12.1-4 – I aim to speak about why the Church is losing members and “why the United Methodist Church.”

One of the issues I am struggling with is how to connect and yet to make sure they are standalone.

More information to follow, of course.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


2 Responses to “So, I’m going to be preaching soon on Fear to Faith #wvumc @energion”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    Although usually toted as a reaction to modernity, I would argue that, even if not actually created for the purpose, fundamentalism was at the very least exploited to control the working class. Consequently, the sect exists more for political rather than for religious purposes. One significant point of evidence in this regard is fundamentalist churches tend to be Baptist. Thus, historically speaking, factory, mill, and mine owners were free to hire a preacher of their choice to propound the “gospel” of their choice without any interference from a national church hierarchy.

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