I try to avoid the Christian brouhahas as much as possible, the storm-in-a-teacup attitude and indignation that often springs up around an idea or person or theological perspective, but I happened across a little flare-up this past week that piqued my curiosity mainly because it involved some friends of mine, so I followed the rabbit trail. The whole thing began with an article by someone in Christianity Today and was about the 'wings of wax' passed onto to three evangelical leaders which resulted in their erroneous views on things essentially (I'm not going to go into the whole thing because it is really not worth it, so I'm not trying to be completely accurate), including a potential slide into universalism, abandoning church and the authority of scripture etc--the usual stuff that gets thrown around when people start moving beyond the boundaries and borders that others still find comforting. There was a statement about how in 2003 the future looked so bright, but somehow it all went wrong and ultimately it went wrong because these three leaders broke bounds and the remedy therefore is to 'get back into the fold,' or at least that's my take on it, I also thought it was ridiculously naive overall.
Now these three people were never people I regarded as carving any trail for me, one of them in particular I know very little of, and I didn't jump on his bandwagon at all, in fact, I didn't even understand the fuss (my only real connection was via another friend who took the books title and reconfigured it as a potential for his own memoir--Fucked Up Like Jazz Fusion--seemed much more like a book I would want to read!!), but I understand the liberation they brought to many who were feeling confined or constricted by theological and ecclesiological grids that no longer sufficed, and I have heard many of those same people wondering lately what happened, i.e. "where is the great movement etc?"
This article, along with a few others over the past year or so, seems to have questioned whether or not anything really happened, and whether its all over now, a flash in the pan rather than a long term thing.
A couple of thoughts. Firstly, I think that culturally, and I aways position what happens to the church in terms of its embeddedness in culture, we are in a bit of a holding pattern. Alongside the new moves in 'church-world' there were new moves in culture and technology, the last decade saw two huge things heralded by the digital shift--smart phone technology and the emergence of the social web-I don't think we can over-estimate what a massive shift these things brought about a decade or so ago. they are not new anymore, they are part of the fabric of our lives and we can't imagine life without them, or before them! And yet, like church movements that sparked a a few years back, we seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern with the social changes and shifts promised by new technological opportunities, we still have not fully worked out the monetising aspects (and lets face it, economics is the thing here--maybe with technology and also with church movements)and there is a bit of a tendency for all of this to feel a little just like newer versions of old broadcast technologies as people rely on old ways while working out new ones. But it's early days, an infrastructure has been laid, groundwork has been done, and it seems like we are in a bit of a dead zone. That could be the new reality, or it could be that we are simply pausing as new responses are developed.
A lot of the early digital activity was around the rejecting of the old ways, the old orthodoxies that shaped our lives pre-social media etc. there was energy, spark and fire everywhere, much like those giddy days the author referenced in his reflections on a decade ago. But there weren't too many 'new orthodoxies' and that I think is the task of the next phase--a time not for innovation but inventiveness. I am not sure that there will be any big technological change for a while--we might get Apple TV or whatever, but its seems that, at least for a while, our new horizon has been established and its fueled by mobility and the social-web, so this is our reality, and it is in this reality we must now turn our attention.
The author used the analogy of the Fall of Icarus as a descriptive of what has happened--these men were equipped with wings of wax by the church that birthed them and they have fallen to earth (or into error) and now we should all be chastened by this and return to a more robust embrace of three things the author obviously feels they didn't take seriously enough.
My take is somewhat different. I don't think they flew to close to the sun, I just think there are a lot of people around who are afraid to fly.