This list represents where I’d like to see Christianity go in the future. This list is not necessarily meant to be comprehensive, it is no particular order, and is solely meant to spark discussion and debate about the future of Christianity. Some of my views may be seen as controversial if not completely over the top. Please keep in mind that I’m not trying to be exclusively polemical toward a certain denomination or group, and whenever I mention the mistakes and downfalls of the Church or Christianity I fully include myself as a participant in those mistakes and downfalls.
1. Re-affirm creedal orthodoxy. Restore the Resurrection to centrality of belief. We must root out heresies about the Resurrection which abound in today’s church. Some renowned evangelical leaders do not actually believe in the bodily Resurrection. Anyone who’s read N.T. Wright knows this is a big problem for a lot of reasons. Here’s my pet reason (a la Bishop Wright): The bodily Resurrection is God’s ultimate answer to the problem of evil. Without it, we don’t have much to offer the world.
2. Unite or die. We harp on the Pauline passages dealing with grace, we tread the great Roman road over and over again, and forget that Paul’s central message, the one that appears in practically all his letters (depending on how you count those) is the unity of the Church. We do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and therefore the world does not know who Jesus really is, and what it means to follow him. It’s that simple. Evangelism without unity is hypocrisy.
3. Renounce all violence, war and oppression and actively stand against it wherever and whenever it is found. In all things overcome evil with good. 2000 years later, don’t you think its finally time to listen to Jesus’ injunction to put down our sword. Jesus clearly taught that violence was something his followers would not participate in. Every time a Christian or a person claiming to be a Christian perpetrates violence our collective witness is diminished.
4. Forge a common bond and goal with Islam. Christians and Muslims do not agree on the nature and mission of Jesus. What we can and do agree on is many points of ethics and morals. Why not work together with Muslims to further these points of agreement and make a better world?
5. Re-align the mission of the church and the purpose of evangelism from “saving souls” to participating in the reconciling of all Creation to God. So much of the ideology and terminology of modern evangelism is a result of the uninformed theologies, and personal neuroses of the “great” 19th century tent evangelists. It’s time to abandon it, and return to the Church’s original mission of reconciling all things to Christ. This certainly involves people making an earnest commitment to be a follower of Christ, but it is much more comprehensive than modern evangelism wants to admit. It also involves taking care of natural resources God gave us, being stewards of the plants and animals God told humans to be in charge of. It means standing against and eliminating evil and injustice in the world.
6. Come out of the whore of nationalism (I borrow the imagery from Revelation). America is not and never was a Christian nation. It’s a great place to live, and I like it here (especially New Mexico), but damn it, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God first and all other citizenship and obligations are a very, very distant second. Christians need to stop being a tool of American politicians so we can get on doing what it is Jesus told us to do.
7. Avoid strict Biblical literalism. Spend less resources “proving” that the Bible is true, and more following the ethic of Jesus. We need to get over the idea that in order to be a Christian you must swear on your life (under penalty of death) that every little detail of the Old Testament actually happened and is historically, archeologically and in other ways objectively verifiable. As all Creation groans for redemption are we really going to put that off while we argue about the seven literal days of creation? The idea that if you “disprove” one story or detail in the Bible then the whole thing is unreliable is so much modernist, Enlightenment BS. Let’s move on.
8. Stand against science & technology where they have stepped over the bounds of common sense. Our society is one blinded of its own idiocy by shiny and flashy trinkets (i.e. I-phones, and internets). We think scientific and technological progress must intrinsically be morally good. Some of it is, much of it is not. Nuclear technology is insanity, genetic engineering is madness (just to give 2 examples)! Do we Christians really think that God isn’t totally pissed about this Tower of Babel we’ve built?
9. Work with our hands; live simple lives. Try to get along with everyone. Us Christians have by and large been caught up in the “progress” of the world, in its industry, in its economy. At very least these things provide endless distraction from our work of building the Kingdom of God. However, many aspects of the world’s economy are downright wrong according to the upside ethics of Jesus. Paul’s advice to us rings so true: keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world.
10. Abandon fundamentalist eschatologies with vigor. I can (and in a future post, will) go on and on about this, but I’ll give just a few points to consider about the predominant pre-millennial-pre-tribulation-rapture eschatology of American Christians. 1) It was made up in the 19th century. 2) There are thousands of ways to interpret the book of Revelation, this eschatology is very presumptuous about there being one and only one way of looking at a very complex and confusing book. 3) The idea expounded by this eschatology that the world is going to end is not supported by the rest of Scripture. 4) This eschatology is a lousy excuse to let the modern state of Israel perpetrate all sorts of injustices on Palestinians (thousands of whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ), and it is a shame that Christianity has mixed itself up with it.