There's a Christianity Today article today on James K. A. Smith's new book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Culture Formation. We had Smith on campus two years ago while he was working on the book. He swears that he is thoroughly Reformed in theology (he teaches at Calvin College), but he was preaching to the Wesleyan-Arminian choir. Keith Drury said, "If Wesley was a hair's breadth from Calvin, this guy shows how Calvin can be a hair's breadth from Wesley!"
The book operates with several distinctives that are very natural for Wesley: heart right with God and neighbor first, then faith seeking understanding. It is Smith's taking on of the postmodern critique and the absolute necessity of faith in knowledge that brings him to this basic destination, his "radical orthodoxy." Thus he claims that education is more about formation than information. Right on target!
Several of us have avoided the word "worldview" for a while now. Not that we disagree that there is such a thing as a Christian worldview. It's just that, like Smith's book, we recognize that most of what passes for this name is full of all sorts of smuggled in cultural and sub-cultural assumptions that bear closer scrutiny. Given the current way the word is used, some of us tend to avoid it for now.
So if I complained about a CT article last week, I'll praise one this week...
P.S. Some of us got together and hammered out what we thought were the distinctives of a truly Wesleyan educational institution's values. Here's what we came up with:
The spirit and content of Wesleyan values are an expression of historic Christian faith, rooted in the Bible, proclaimed by the church and lived out in the world. The following values are emphasized in the Wesleyan tradition.
Faith First—Right relationship with God is more important than having “it all figured out.” While reason, education and scholarship are important they follow and serve one’s relationship with Christ.
Personal Transformation—Christian conversion and becoming more like Christ is central to a Wesleyan way of thinking, learning, and living. We are optimistic about the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.
Global Transformation—Wesleyans believe God’s will can be done on earth and that we can change the world to be more like the Kingdom of God.
Others above Self—Wesleyans value the community beyond the individual. While individual pursuits and personal faith are vital they find their fullest expression through life in Christian community.
Generous Spirit—Wesleyans are welcoming to those who disagree. Loving hospitality should be expressed to all.