Saturday, October 25, 2014

Becky Garrison interview with Randall Balmer on Driscoll resignation

Of particular interest to Wenatchee The Hatchet is the observation that the mainline Protestant groups (i.e. denominations) don't have as much room for cults of personality to emerge.  It may be worth noting that evangelicalism as defined via practice in the United States is not necessarily a confessional identity or a set of denominational structures (though denominations most certainly exist within the spectrum of what may be called evangelicalism) but by a culture. From Alastair Roberts' piece "Evangelicalism's Poor Form":

There is a sort of evangelical folk religion, most of which is largely unauthorized by pastors or elders, a folk religion driven and populated by TV preachers, purity culture, uninformed theological speculations in democratic Bible studies, Chick tracts, evangelistic bumper stickers and T-shirts, Thomas Kinkade paintings, VeggieTales, Kirk Cameron movies, Amish romance novels, the Left Behind series, Focus on the Family literature, Christian bloggers, CCM, Christian dating guides, Answers in Genesis books, sappy mass-produced devotional literature, study Bibles for every conceivable niche market, and much else besides. Unsurprisingly, many presume that this all passed quality control and received the imprimatur of Evangelical Central Headquarters.

What is particularly interesting to Wenatchee The Hatchet is the following observation Roberts  makes:

...  Evangelical churches are often distinguished by such features as their use of contemporary musical styles, modes of dress, conspicuous use of state-of-the-art audio-visual technologies, their colloquial manner of speech, heavy online presence, and their ecclesiastical architecture that breaks with tradition to adopt the pattern of modern auditoriums. Evangelical identity is also widely expressed through the forms of a consumer society: through corporate models of Christian leadership, through the production, marketing, advertising, and selling of a Christianity that functions like a “brand” on everything from mints to keyrings. Few pause to question whether these forms of expression might be shaping us in unhealthy ways, assimilating us into culturally prevailing habits, dynamics, and ways of life and perception, all beneath the cover of a thin veneer of Christianity.

In the blog post "Mars Hill and the idol of social media" Wenatchee the Hatchet observed that embracing social media and saturating the internet with content became a double-edged sword for Mars Hill, particularly in the wake of the Andrew situation in 2012.

In an American setting in which any kind of liturgy recognized as liturgy is considered "dead religion" or "legalism" American evangelicals are primed to accept personality-anchored alternatives.  Yet the bureaucracies and institutional/cultural norms of denominations and confessional traditions may potentially be the most potent countervailing force that would be needed to curb the rise of someone like a Mark Driscoll into a media-centric empire.  It's not too surprising that a variety of Mars Hill members who left gravitated toward Presbyterian, Baptist, Orthodox and in some cases Catholic settings.  The kind of institutional/bureaucratic braking system that so many of us thought we didn't particularly need in the heady early days of Mars Hill has paradoxically turned into something many of us appreciate quite a bit more now!

1 comment:

Allou said...