...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

May 24, 2004 WEBLOG: Will blogging change the church?

Joel News publisher Marc van der Woude keeps a weblog in which he reflects on God, the Church and daily life. This week he summarizes an interesting and provoking paper by Tim Bednar titled 'We Know More Than Our Pastors: Why Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church'. Bednar explores how Christians are using blogging (keeping a weblog) for spiritual formation and how they are redefining the scope of Martin Luther's 'the priesthood of the believer'. Bednar states: "As a network, we know more than our pastors. Thousands of bloggers circumvent established hierarchies and relate unmediated with one another. We are part of a participatory phenomenon that is impacting mass media, technology, education, entertainment, politics, journalism, business - and the church."

LINK: http://marcsmessages.typepad.com/mm/2004/05/we_know_more_th.html

May 24, 2004 A New Kind of Christian review and commentary continued..

Chapter 1- no comment.

Comments on NEO’s view of Modernism. I will have to challenge every contention of this worldview at some point or another. The propensity to paint with a broad brush, admitting to it but then proceeding in spite of the fact only tends to obfuscate the real underlying issues. We settle for an image or perception instead of reality and Truth if we buy into these generalities.

1. Conquest and control- This is not a modern construct- the history of man is defined by this. The Bible itself is a history of conquest- both physically when a called out people were chosen to purify a piece of real estate called the promised land to the corrollary conquest by spiritual warfare going on in the unseen realms. I would posit that there has actually been a loss of the sense of the latter in modern times.
2. Age of the machine- little to disagree with here- the fulfillment of the mandate given in the garden to subdue the earth is part of the Biblical notion of stewardship . Like with all good things, fallen man adds to or perverts the motivation of such endeavors, but they are God given nonetheless. Modern man is more motivated by the pursuit of ease, comfort, and pleasure than the realization of proper stewardship, and took the mechanisms to accomplish this to new levels.
3. Age of analysis- Again- this is not a modern construct. The Socratic method and the logic of the philosophers defined the pinnacle of Greek thought which in term impinges upon history from that point on. It was into this milieu that the incarnate Word came. One could argue that the advent of the age of reason was a natural outcome of the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Specifically, Neo’s contention that modernism marginalized imagination and systems thinking is pure bunk, IMHO!
4. The age of secular science manifests problems in the realms where it divorces itself from mystery. The substitution of knowledge for faith is Satan’s ploy from the beginning. The modern age took this to new levels but the underlying problem is one of sin and autonomy, not science per se which actually glorifies God as it looks at creation.
5. Age of absolute objectivity- Yes, the propensity of modern man to seek salvation through knowledge is devastating but not new. It’s the original sin. It is a continuity based on the basic nature of fallen man. No one I knows thinks this way consistently however.

Most people recognize innately that there is an unknowable theme running through the universe and that accounts for the myriad of ways of seeking knowledge that manifest themselves in modern times, just as in the doctrine of perspicuity still attains- Truth we need for life is still propositional and knowable because it is revealed to us that way. Again, most people I have contact with find their realities defined not by science but by seeking to fulfill felt needs and finding the next experience- typically through arts and entertainment sources that are ubiquitous in our world.

6. Critical age- The ability of critically thinking minds to perceive and apologize for truth is not a modern paradigm shift either. The cultus of winning and competition has reached new heights (perhaps) in the modern age. Peter Senge’s point is what? Is Neo saying that there should be no battleground of ideas based on their variant values? Some ideas (especially heresies) are by nature losers and therefore need to lose. The issue here is the preponderance of logical fallacies in communication, not the triumph of reason.
7. Modern nation-state and organization-No argument here except to say that the world is a better place in many ways because of the death of feudalism. Nothing is said of the relationship and checks and balances that come from the idea of individuation versus organization. But Plato tackled this issue in The Republic. So it’s not a modern problem exclusively.  
8. Individualism- Again the problem is pervasive since the fall. The issues are that the God ordained structures for community- church, family, have taken a back seat to the pursuit of affluence by the individual. Denominationalism has served to bring diversity in the non-essentials to the body of Christ, and I think should be seen as a positive, not negative influence. It is rather revivalism and its man-focused strains that pervade some of the denominations that is a bigger negative issue. The departure from Biblical ways of doing things has always caused problems in the church. The biggest departure is seeking answers through political or physical mechanisms, not dying to self and serving and loving God and men.
9. This ties in with his next point- Protestantism and institutionalized religion are taken together- and that is problematic. Protestantism isn’t responsible for the institutionalization of the church- that began happening after Constantine. The book tends to hit hard against the reformed faith as the pinnacle of modernity in “religious” circles. Perhaps the book’s characterization of faith matters as “religion” belies the prejudices of the author? Biblical faith does not seem to me to be particularly about religion or religious structures.  
10. Consumerism is rife in the church. Correct. The love of money must have been a problem for Jesus’s time or he would not have pointed this out as the root of all evil! So what has changed on this front? Consumerism has always been an issue. The use of capitalistic methodologies to do church is the problem as I see it.

The conquests change, the mechanisms diversify, the analysis becomes less objective, the criticism becomes more flawed, the organizations become more imposing, the individuation becomes pervasive, the protest less informed, and the consumption of information becomes the most sought after commodity. Yes indeed, the forms are changing but the functional realization of the most basic notions of our fallenness have not changed at all.

At one point Neo characterizes the darkness as light- leading proponents of a deconstructed world are called philosophical lights on page 19. I have to challenge this presupposition. The notion of philosophy denotes a love of wisdom. All these proponents of postmodernism would deny that there is a God in Heaven. Biblically speaking, that makes them fools, not lovers of wisdom. If Neo is right- pluralism is the hallmark of postmodernism, we are in for the domination of the philosophy of fools. Polyani, Heidegger and Hegel do not lead to the place where science, philosophy, history, and theology meet. A right view of the Creator encompasses a right view of all of these disciplines/arts/sciences.

Neo has been conformed to high modern philosophy, not set free by the Truth. Neo is portrayed as the educated one in the pseudo dialogue- actually it is a monologue at this point. We see early on that Dan turns toward the dispenser of knowledge- quite esoteric knowledge at that, in his attempt to sort out his theological questions. This is a serious flaw. The things of the flesh cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit. I see this flaw fleshed out in the contemporary church’s appropriation of “mentoring” both its techniques and biases in lieu of what the Bible calls discipleship. It is a poor substitute. We only have one teacher to sit at the feet of- Jesus. We sit there together in community.

From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/