If you’ve had your ear to the ground of Christianity, you may have noticed that there is a subtle (but very strong) shift in how things are. Anglican bishop Mark Dyer is quoted as saying, “about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale.” Journalist Phyllis Tickle follows this line of thinking by pointing out that if you go back through Judeo-Christian history, every 500 years or so there is a major paradigm shift in the community of God’s people. And seeing as how the last big movement in the church, the Protestant Reformation, took place during the 16th century, we’re about due for another one.
And this movement is coming in the form of some very thought-provoking and controversial ideas. It would seem that many of the ways that people have thought about God for the past several centuries are finally starting to die off. Take a moment to watch this video.
This is the trailer for ReKnew, author and theologian Greg Boyd’s ministry that provides an online hub for “people re-thinking what they thought they knew about the Christian faith.” The idea is to get back to a view of God that is revealed entirely in the person of Jesus Christ. All of this is being expressed in conversations concerning the nature of heaven and hell, God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, the nature of Christ’s atonement, homosexuality, the role of women, non-violence, idolatrous nationalism, and so many other topics.
One of the de facto spokesmen for this new movement is controversial author Rob Bell. In the Spring of 2011, Bell released his highly provocative book, Love Wins: A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. Not only did this book set in motion a chain of events that would drastically change my own life, but it sparked a firestorm of controversy among Evangelical Christians, many of whom simply chose to label Bell as a heretic and move on. However, this response did nothing to make Bell (or those like him) shut up or go away. On March 12 of this year, Bell released his latest literary firecracker, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. Check out the trailer for it.
So, like it or not, change is in the air. There is a burgeoning generation of young evangelical Christians who are tired and fed up with trying to love and serve a God who looks very little like Jesus. Moreover, they (we?) are tired of trying to convince “worldly” people that they too should love this sort of God.
Change is happening. The question is – what will you do about it? Will you ignore it and hope it goes away? Will you fight back, deeming this new movement to be heretical? Or will you join the movement to reimagine and rethink Christianity?