As we engage in mission, it is critical that our minds and hearts be connected God through a life of vital piety.Continue Reading...
Archives For Practical Theology
As our culture continues to grapple with the meaning of marriage, the Washington Post reported that vocal advocates of polyamory in the Unitarian Universalist church are detrimental to legal recognition of same sex marriage. You can read the original Post article here and the IRD’s commentary here.
Many traditionalists have asked the question: if same sex marriage is recognized, what next? This “domino effect” objection has been pooh-poohed by progressives as something of a straw man. Yet, as the Washington Post notes, the efforts of Unitarian “Universalists for Polyamory Awareness” (UUPA) threaten to demonstrate that perhaps this conservative objection is not as specious as it once appeared.
The article cites sociologist Peter Berger as observing that once you recognize same sex marriage, “you open the door to any number of other alternatives to marriage as a union of one man and one woman: polygamous (an interesting question for Muslims in Germany and dissident Mormons in Arizona), polyandrous, polygenerational – perhaps polyspecies?” If Berger is correct surely it is only a matter of time before the poly community poses the questions: “Why is marriage limited to two people?” “Why is marriage privileged over other arrangements?” According to the article, poly activist Kenneth Haslam has argued: “Poly folks are strong believers that each of us should choose our own path in forming our families, forming relationships, and being authentic in our sexuality.” The key concepts here are: autonomy, choice, and authenticity.
This stands in stark contrast with the Christian notion of the purpose of marriage. Marriage was ordained for the “procreation of children,” as a “remedy against sin,” and for the mutual society, help, and aid of the couple (Book of Common Prayer 1929).
These three concepts are external to us whereas the modern litany of autonomy, choice, and authenticity are self-focused. We enter into Christian marriage for the purpose of bringing children into the world who will be raised in the faith. We enter into Christian marriage for the purpose of limiting and focusing our sexual expression to one with whom we enter a solemn covenant. We enter into Christian marriage to support, encourage, love, and suffer with our spouse. These are concrete obligations that have stood the test of time and which tower over the mantra of “to thine own self be true” that has so bewitched our current moment.
Given the growing polyamory movement, is it really specious to argue that the legalization and normalization of same sex marriage will be the dropping of a domino whose tumble will have subsequent repercussions? I think not.
You can read the rest here.
The evangelical church must make significant progress in valuing and embracing the arts. This is the case both because the arts are inherently valuable (they’re valuable because of what they are as well as what they do) and because the arts play a critical role in the formation of culture.Continue Reading...
I’m on something of an intellectual journey to understand the essence of ordained ministry (the presbyterate and deaconate). I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. The first is that, by nature, I’m an inquisitive person and the challenge of exploring this sort of topic is really exciting to me. Second, there seem to be as many models or understandings of ordained ministry out there as there are ministries and individuals in ministry. Was there ever consensus about the pastoral office? Third, I have a suspicion that we evangelicals are missing something in the way we understand and communicate about ordained ministry. I wonder, frankly, whether we’re losing something of the soul of our leadership. In short, are we putting the cart before the horse by talking about leadership in isolation from discipleship. Leaders who aren’t disciples are, at least in spiritual leadership terms, not effective leaders.
Let me state my concerns about the evangelical theology of ministry that marks so many churches today in four theses. I hope I’m wrong about this or that, at least, I’m going too far:
Thesis 1: In our desire to affirm the gifts of non-ordained Christians, we have unnecessarily degraded our understanding of the ordained offices of the church.
Thesis 2: We evangelicals–as a people inclined to value experience in the first instance–have unwittingly accepted the claim that religious knowledge is not a legitimate form of knowledge that has bearing beyond first person experience. As a result we are increasingly incredulous of any claim by clergy or the church to interpret religious experiences.
Thesis 3: Since the interpretation and understanding of religious knowledge/experience has become privatized, clergy are increasingly understood as professionals who facilitate religious experiences.
Thesis 4: We typically understand religious experience being precipitated by events. As a result, clergy are increasingly understood to be people who facilitate, arrange, and provide religious events that serve as conduits for religious experiences to take place.
Thesis 5: Since clergy have a greater degree of control and can plausibly reach a greater proficiency in event planning, clergy are drawn to this elements of ministry. Events are concrete, demonstrable evidence of religious accomplishment. They validate the leadership of a minister.
Am I going too far? Do you worry about this too?