We knew that if we were going to “reach out” to evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic Christians, we were going to have to re-brand ourselves (note the crass language of business). And so we agreed as a faculty to focus our branding on three things: 1) basic Christian Orthodoxy; 2) holiness; and 3) church renewal.
The above was written by Jason Vickers, the Church Renewal prof at United. And of course, the Birchers of the UMC have given their approval.
My question – and yes, I know some of you fall into those categories – is whether or not evangelicals, Pentecostals, and charismatic Christians meet the definition of “basic Christian
Let me explain.
Nearly all of the Evangelicals I know are nominally anti-creedal. Charismatics and Pentecostals are the same and generally eschew Tradition. Both are highly individualistic and thus are against the corporate and communal experiences of historical Christianity.
Of course, this may mean we can define or redefine what “basic Christian orthodoxy” really means. Is it just a shared element of doctrine? Such as a belief in the Trinity? Perhaps that is all that is needed for a basic Christian orthodoxy, but if that is the case, then those who espouse such sentiments are themselves part of the issue with liberal mainline churches. Christianity is boiled down to nothing, leaving an empty pot.
Perhaps it is participation in the Great Tradition, replete with the full trappings of Canonical Theism; however, this places most Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Charismatics out of the picture.
Or, perhaps basic Christian orthodoxy means something along the lines of voting Republican and detesting historical criticism? That seems to be the defining characteristics of most Evangelicals, Charismatics, and Pentecostals.
Holiness is another concept. Is holiness Wesley’s holiness or is it what I grew up with, with a near-monk like existence, ready for nothing else by God’s ultimate act of wrath, the destruction of the world? And let’s not kid ourselves, even Wesley’s holiness is not truly defined but.
I rather like Pope Francis’s example. Keep in mind, I disagree with the Holy Father on several issues, but he is causing Church renewal by maintaining a very generous orthodoxy and performing a holiness of work.
Oh, and I personally don’t believe most Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Charismatics meet the demands of basic Christian orthodoxy. I don’t care much for the concept. I agree with a generous orthodoxy, theologically speaking. Theologically speaking, one should believe in the Trinity, accept the Great Tradition (including the Reformation), and seek to remain in union with other Christians.
Personally speaking, orthodoxy is a constricting noose one can use to strangle out any form of actual renewal. Just watch what the Traditionalists say about Pope Francis… or what the Anglicans said about John Wesley… or how the Gospels pictured the reaction to Jesus. I believe orthodoxy is about the mind, but the Gospel is about the heart.
On the other hand, the Gospel without canonical theism is often a motivational speech or absolute theological fascism.
I’ve stated this before. I tend to disagree with Vickers about a good many things, or maybe just a few things, but all in all, if you get a chance, read his blog and continue the conversation yonder ways.