Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Post-Christian Wesleyan Movement 2

Had a stimulating breakfast with Dave and Dina Horne, area directors for Europe with Global Partners. They stimulated some thoughts along the lines of an earlier post I made on letting the Wesleyan movement begin. (P.S. Don't blame them for the random thoughts that rattle around in my head)

One is that Wesley really was ministering in a sort of "post-Christian" England. I don't mean post-Christian in the sense that no one believed in God or Christ any more (although there were several David Humes and Jeremy Benthams running around). I mean post-Christian in the sense that the fire had gone out. It was, in a sense, burned over ground for Christian business as usual.

But it makes me wonder whether a "Wesley" model would work better in places like England, Europe, and Russia today than a "plant a church" model. Wesley did not plan to start or plant churches. He set up small groups, little house churches, if you would, within the established church (bands, societies).

So if I were to go as a missionary to England, I think the precisely wrong model would be to rent a space to have Wesleyan worship services that compete with the local Anglican church. And, ironically, that isn't even the Wesley model. The Wesley model was to set up small groups of people who attended the local Anglican church on Sunday morning.

In Germany, you would set up small groups made up of Lutherans and Catholics. In Russia, you would set up small groups of Orthodox. The goal would not be to get them out of the church they are in but for them to become vibrant Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox believers. If something else comes of it, that's fine too. But he goal would not be indoctrination of theology but changed lives. If the heart comes, the head will follow.

I know I'm pretty late to the game with these ideas... what, am I fifty years late?  two hundred?  Please excuse me for being excited about what for me was new spark.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

If you believe that humans "come to faith" because of basic human needs, then, the reality of "faith" is belief in a mythological replacement to that unmet need. The need to feel "special" or valued is a common human need. Doesn't that preclude a view that the established church is "less than" an evangelical outlook?!

But, if your view is that the "evangelical model" is the REALITY for ALL TIME, then, you'd be more inclined to FLAME the established churches, thinking that these were "half-hearted", "lukewarm" and "fallen from grace".

These two approaches are different in their basic foundations. One approaches the church from a natural understanding, while the other approaches the church from a supernatual understanding.

The Wesleyans can fit into either box, as Wesley must've agreed to be "all things to all people". He, himself was a preacher and a scholar. But, in doing so, the Wesleyans cannot be defined or confined to a particular "box" and can come across as deceptive, by those trying to understand what "Wesleyan" really means.

Doesn't some of the difficulty come with the understanding of the "filoque"?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Besides the "filoque" argument, which might reflect a more scholarly question, there is the issue of "inspiration" of scripture, too.

A natural understanding of religion is a progressive view, where history develops the myth within a particular context.

A supernatural understanding of religion is a sanctified text, person or philosophy, revealed by an interventional "god".

The natural understanding is cool headed, while the supernatural understanding is warm hearted.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

There are many that do not "come to faith", but internalize their family's "tradition". These are more prone to understand themselves and others within a particular context. Identity becomes the issue. Group identification is still "tribal" and not a chosen path because of certain values.

American is a "Christian" nation because America believes that the individual can choose his own path, whether of belief in "God" or not. Americans are not to be "pre-determined", but "self-determined".

Dina Horne said...

It was a pleasure to dream with you!

Steven Jones said...

This has me really thinking. Thinking what, I am not sure yet. But something about this has a hold on me. Something about ecumenical gatherings of passionate intent, reading up fully engaged people of several traditions. I can't fathom what to do with that in my current context, but I want this as much as I want anything. I never before felt Wesley to be so inspiring.