the church submergent

the church submergent cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I wasn’t sure what to label the iceberg because there are so many things challenging the church today. So I decided to leave it blank and let you fill it in.

What I see are lots of attempts at tweaking the church to make it either more cool or more biblical. That is, there are two extremes. One is to try to keep up with what’s cool and contemporize or relevantize the church without losing touch with its history. The other is to forget the future and try to get back to what’s biblical, which takes on a fundamentalist flavor. On the one hand restoration and the other hand emergent, but on all hands submergent.

I suggest that all these attempts are like rearranging the furniture on a sinking ship. Things look different, refreshing and it seems that attempts are being made to make the church more useful, relevant and true. But the hull has been breached and water’s already coming in and this is all going to be deep under eventually.

I’m not sure what can be done about it. But I do think the first step is to finally admit, like they had to on the Titanic, that it is indeed sinking.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I believe we need to prepare for a massive, transformative change that we can’t even foresee.


7 Replies to “the church submergent”

  1. For me, I view it like the church hit reality and reality won. The church represents a little self-contained universe separate from the world that then tries to tell the world what to do and what to believe. When you embed this church in the world, sometimes it simply comes in conflict with the way the world really works. The titanic made it a good ways across the northern Atlantic before it finally sank. Christianity has had a good run through human history but the underlining theology of us all being fallen, damned, and needing to be saved is probably not really playing out as well as it used to – especially when the theology is bundled with ideas of what we have to do (or believe) to be saved, and who is going to be saved and who isn’t. Then when you bundle all these other human moral questions in with the theology and claim that God wants us to have certain stances on all these moral questions, it starts to be a bit too much and it all starts to sink. I think churches have over-played their hand and are now realizing that they need to bluff to win and the world is starting to call their bluff.

  2. And either way, the position taken is subject to interpretation. What’s biblical to you might be fundamentalist or liberal to someone else and to be avoided at all costs. The same with coolness. What some churches think is cool and relevant, ends up looking embarrassingly uncool. Plus, once you jump on that bandwagon, you’re constantly having to re-tweak as trends change.

  3. I offer that the living ‘body of Christ’ does need to transform from the ‘creed-orientation’ to the ‘covenant-orientation’… then, whatever physical form the living Body takes, that will become the new ‘church institution’.

    As stated eloquently by a UU post: the creedal churches first ask ‘what do you believe?’ and say ‘well, here is our statement of faith / book of doctrine / catechism’.

    But the ‘covenant’ churches first ask ‘did you encourage, comfort, or build up someone in their spiritual walk this week?’ and say, ‘there are many good doctrines out there, we can discuss them all, and I may tell you where I currently lean….’

    The church of the future may well be a ‘vitural’ entity on the Internet… or a physical entity on a corner… or a group in my living room… it does not matter, in my opinion.

    The world is waiting for the covenant churches.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  4. Hello David, what is to your mind the reason for the growing unbelief in America?

    In France, ever since the revolution a strong secularist propaganda has emptied out the Catholic churches. Granted, this was partially well deserved due to the atrocities they had committed in the past.

    I’m under impression that in the English-speaking world, many clever folks are leaving the Church because they’re realizing the implications of Biblical inerrancy, like endorsing genocides.

    Am I correct in my assessment?

    Kind regards from Germany.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

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