Sunday, September 7, 2008

Welcome to the (Churchland) Jungle

That slashing sound you hear comes from my machete as I hack my way through the tropical undergrowth of the church world during this new period of exploration I find myself in.

AS I venture out in any direction from the relative safety of my familiar base camp, I find the path before me choked with new (and not so new) flora and fauna of every description. From high in the trees above me, the sound of screeches, squawks, buzzes and chirps rain down so thickly that I can hardly hear myself think. Let me tell you, folks: it's a jungle out there.

Over in that direction, the thick new vines of classic pentacostalism keep springing up with their claims that God has "touched down" in Redding, or Lakeland or some other locale. Miss this new move, and you will miss all the Lord has for you (and who could live with that?) As I draw close, I can feel the heat but I just can't see the light.

Over in this direction is the stately grove of the Newly Reformed whose systematic theologies and premodern certitudes rise up from the ground like the roots of the sturdy banyan tree. To be sure, this shady shelter provides welcome refuge from the summer heat but it also seems to make it hard for things of variety and wonder to grow beneath their thick canopy.

As I move to the left, I run into the tangled undergrowth of postmodernism where the emergent types have sought to hack their way through to the future. These explorers claim to be clearing a path for the rest of us only to become bogged down in the quicksand of their reactionism and trendiness.

Eventually, I stumble into the old growth forest. There, I find heartbreaking evidence of clear cutting and desolation -- the unmistakable marks of ongoing rampant theological liberalism. How sad it is to see how shamelessly centuries of irreplaceable richness and depth have been exploited by opportunists. Instead of making the land more meadow-like and habitable as promised, they have left it arid and lifeless.

Finally, I arrive at the neatly plowed fields of mainline evangelicalism. As I apporach, I am greeted by rows and rows of highly-cultivated plants standing tall in the afternoon sun. Their tenders stand by and wait for them to fruit but the crops often fail to come in as hoped for. Still, it is impressive to see how neatly the rows have been cut and how much detail has gone into each and every scarecrow that has been raised to keep out the unwanted. As I watch, I see that the hungry only stop by briefly before moving on to search for food that truly satisfies.

These are just the first impressions from my journey so far. No doubt your corespondent will file further reports down the road.

1 comment:

Charity Leslie said...

Sharpen the machete, Shepherd. The jungle is thick, but the sheep are in there.

You'd think after all the Bible teachings we've heard and all the prayers we've prayed that we would have learned by now the wisdom of the prophets, which is this: that God speaks in the whisper.