Wednesday, April 18, 2018

One Dimensional Church part 2





In the comment section to the impervious post Mike Gerow asked:


The question about "one dimensional church" is still open....If, as you say, "techne" and the secular society around it have such an affect on Xian movements that (at least in the US) they become just a branch of one of the secular political parties, then how and why does that happen? Especially considering they're such such Biblically-oriented groups, since there are at least as many resources in the scriptures supporting the DNC's agenda as the GOP's. [1]

First rule of graduate school strategy for answering questions, redefine the question so you can answer to best advantage. I think what he's really getting at is how can it be that Christianity has as a salient feature  changed lives and personal transformation, redemption, empty wasted years restored and so on. Yet it seems that real attention to the spiritual aspects of the faith,and taking the Bible seriously and so on has merely produced one-dimensional church, (1DMC). [2]

The short answer is the 78% of evangelicals who have stuck with  Trump don't represent the most spiritual Christians not even in the evangelical camp. The remaining 20% who don't back Trump include a lot of highly committed resistance people who are egalitarian and evangelical. That still makes one wonder why did that 78% buy into what I can;t help but see as a ruse?

In discussing the demography of  the Trump church, one year ago,[3] I quoted New Republic's article "Amazing Disgrace:"

The church of Jesus Christ ought to be the last people to fall for hucksters and demagogues,” Moore wrote in Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, a book he had just published at the time. “But too often we do.”
 As Trump continued gaining ground in the polls, Moore began to realize that the campaign represented nothing short of a battle for the soul of the Christian right. By backing Trump, white evangelicals were playing into the hands of a new, alt-right version of Christianity—a sprawling coalition of white nationalists, old-school Confederates, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes, and social-media propagandists who viewed the religious right, first and foremost, as a vehicle for white supremacy. The election, Moore warned in a New York Times op-ed last May, “has cast light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country.” Those who were criticizing Trump, he added, “have faced threats and intimidation from the ‘alt-right’ of white supremacists and nativists who hide behind avatars on social media.”[4]

That ties the trend to developments that have been happening as far back as the second great awakening. It was in that period, from about 1795 to 1820 that America's anti-intellectual bias really took root.  America's democratic inclinations worked to produce religious rebellion against the Calvinist power structure. The Calvinists controlled the universities such as Harvard and Princeton,one had to have a degree from such a place to be a minister.
And thus came Puritanism to America. However, although we often think of the Puritans as extremists who were intolerant of other religious sects such as the Quakers (all of which is true), their clergy were in fact well-read and highly educated, many of whom had been trained at Oxford or Cambridge. In short, they were a book-wormy pensive sort of folk, in spite of being immigrants to a brave rough new world.[5]
 But  America was a frontier nation. People on the frostier didn't care about degrees. They to accept uneducated minsters because they could not get the educated kind. They felt  they could read the Bible for themselves and if they didn't agree with the Calvinist doctrine they would start their own denomination. That's why we have so many of them. If you don't like what the preacher says go over the hill and start your own church.  The  second great awakening played into this because there were  powerful demonstrations of the Spirit, miracles,and prophets prophesying all of which gave the aura of the sacred to the ignorant,the undated the anti-Establishment.

In such an environment having  a degree became suspect. Intellectuals were identified with the Calvinist elite and moneyed interests at places like Harvard."This second great migration had significant impact on American society. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner put forward his famous thesis that America's history, culture, and its social institutions can only be understood with reference to this shift in population."[6]  The attitude of the fronteirsman toward religion played a major role  shaping the Ameircan religious mentality."Cue the Revivalists. Along came traveling preachers who had been born out of the earlier Reformation. Preachers such as George Whitefield who helped stoke the flames of a growing distaste of church-goers for the boring liturgical traditions that all too often represented the old Catholic ways."[7]
People on the frontier, however, were resistant to any efforts to convert them. Strongly independent, they took religion into own hands. These were people who "preferred their whiskey straight, and their politics and religion red hot." They were attracted to those who preached a more emotional faith, and dismissed of the more sophisticated rational faith of the Eastern seaboard. Churches that proved flexible in seeking these people out and giving them what they wanted became the dominant denominations (Baptists and Methodists). An example is the Methodist Church and it's circuit-riding clergy.[8]

In time the evangelicals came to mint their own academia and their own theological institutions, in many cases these institutions are more about spreading an ideology of anti-intellectualism and right wing politics than in producing quality scholarship. See my article "How Scholarly are Evangelical Academics?" [9]

There was a hopeful progressive side to the revivals, they were hotbeds of social consciousness. Revivalists like Charles Finney  the most successful of them all, was an ardent supporter of the abolitionism movement. The first organized Woman's Suffrage group and the first organized abolition group were the same same group ran by Phoebe Palmer and staffed by Methodists women.[10] The eschatology of these groups was Post Millennial (as opposed to current pre-Millennial) meaning Christ would return to find a christianized world made perfect by the Gospel (in other words, after the thousand years). But the civil war changed that. The pessimism due to the horrors of the war led to the rise of a  pre-Millennial view: the world would grow dark a devil thins would get hopelessly worse util Christ returned to cut that short and establish his thousand year resign,then the new earth. This was fueled greatly by world war I. Both periods produced red scares, xenophobia, persecution of foreigners and minorities and the rise of the KKK.[11]

That brand of right wing evangelicalism mixed with American civil religion and continued to organize and grow. It was fueled by  fear of change in the 60's and revived it largest dose in the Reagan era. [12]

It's been been steady brainwashing since the Reagan era, The two major red flag issues for evangelicals were set by abortion and gay marriage. These two  issues have been used as supreme organizing tools the faith has been reduced to politics. It's taken a heavy toll upon Christian belief, The value system has changed,Between 2011 and July 2017& the percentage of Evangelicals who agree that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life,had gone up from 30 to 70%.[13]

The evangelical church not only negates what should be one of the most effective alternatives to one- dimensional consciousness but it has also reduced the gospel to a point where it is actually one-dimensional, The function the gospel should play against 1DM is  to open the realm of discourse to a transcendent reality that expands human consciousness. The evangelicals have reduced faith to blind obedience,  The transformative nature of religious experience becomes a quick religious fix something to satisfy consumers and cheaply produced. It's likely that not many of those in the alright and white nationalists end of things are experiencing the transformative effects  since studies show that true mystical experience produces a social consciousness and leads to less racism not more.

The answer is there is such a thing as "Having a from of Godliness and denying the power thereof." 1 Tim 3: 5. That has really been the sory of the church all along.



Sources



[1] Joseph Hinman, "One-denominational Church," Metacrock's blog, (April 10,2018)
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2018/04/one-dimensional-church.html

[2] Ibid

[3]Joseph Hinman, "from Gospel to Culture War," Metacrock's blog, (April 10,2017)
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2017/04/from-gospel-to-culture-war.html

[4]Sara Oisner "Amazing Disgrace," New Republic (March 20,2017) On line version URL:
https://newrepublic.com/article/140961/amazing-disgrace-donald-trump-hijacked-religious-right?utm_source=social (accessed 4/7/17)

[5]Emily Cashnova, "The Roots Of American Anti intellectualism," Science over Cuppa (Jan, 2016)
https://scienceoveracuppa.com/2016/01/10/the-roots-of-american-anti-intellectualism/

[6] Lewis Loflin,"Second Great Awakening A  overview," Sullivan  Couty
http://www.sullivan-county.com/immigration/2nd_awakening.htm
(accessed 4/12/18)

[7] Cashnova,The Roots Of American Anti intellectualism," op coit

[8] Lewis Loflin,"Second Great Awakening A  overview," op cit

[9] Joseph Hinman, "How Intellectual are Evangelical Academics?" Metacrock's blog (sept 11, 2016)
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-scholarly-are-evangelical-academics.html

[10] Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform. Eugene Oregon: Wipf & Stock Pub (November 9, 2004) previously piblisehd Abidon 1957.34-44


[11] Gary Claugbh, Thunder on The Right. Milwakee: Burnham Inc Pub; First Edition edition (June 1, 1974)


[12] Ibid


[13]David Myers"For Irreligious Evangelicals Christianity is abouit Politics not God," Quartz, blog (Nov 7,2017
https://qz.com/1122117/what-does-it-mean-to-be-evangelical-how-the-right-wing-hijacked-christian-identity/












28 comments:

im-skeptical said...

So all of part 1 (except for the first sentence) was nothing but a discussion of a very different issue (another attack on scientism) that has nothing to do with the topic of the "one-dimensional church".

Joe Hinman said...

what are you talking about? Part 2 is a follow up to question Mike asked in the comments to part I. Originally I did not plan to have a part 2.

im-skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Gerow said...

IThe value system has changed,Between 2011 and July 2017& the percentage of Evangelicals who agree that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life,” had gone up from 30 to 70%.

This sounds almost like a trad. Catholic assertion about priests, how the individual priests character or sinfulness doesn't affect the efficacy of the mass, since the power is invested in the institution. WDYT? Is there a there a formalization going on as the evangelical movement gets older, now investing divine power just in having certain (GOP) representatives in certain positions, regardless of the quality of the person who happens to have the position, becoming just as stodgy as the old RCC?

What would another big American revival look like then, at this point? Would such a thing still be possible? That's an interesting question....

Mike Gerow said...

Addendum: were the 60's movements anything like the "revivals?"

Joe Hinman said...

The value system has changed,Between 2011 and July 2017& the percentage of Evangelicals who agree that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life,” had gone up from 30 to 70%.

This sounds almost like a trad. Catholic assertion about priests, how the individual priests character or sinfulness doesn't affect the efficacy of the mass, since the power is invested in the institution. WDYT? Is there a there a formalization going on as the evangelical movement gets older, now investing divine power just in having certain (GOP) representatives in certain positions, regardless of the quality of the person who happens to have the position, becoming just as stodgy as the old RCC?

the moral turpitude of the individual priest not negating the sanctity of the mass makes a good deal more sense than the idea that an immoral leader can lead morally,

What would another big American revival look like then, at this point? Would such a thing still be possible? That's an interesting question....

the Jesus movement and charismatic movement of the early 1970s was,in my opinion, a genuine move of the Spirit, true revival would transcend the political nonsense.

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
Addendum: were the 60's movements anything like the "revivals?"

5:59 PM

I got to have some first hand knowledge of the hippie Jesus Freaks in Taos and the charismatic movement among bourgeois baptists and Catholics in Albuquerque and I think both ends of that movement were genuine moves of the Spirit. they had miracles stories, and a deep sense of the presence of God and great sincerity among many of the adherents,

Finney went to tour a hat factory just for fun when people heard Charles Finney was in the house the workers began falling on their knees repenting and calling on God to save them loud cries. Boatmen on a early river canal reported when they sailed under a brigand into a county where Finney held a revival they were suddenly ceased with fear of God and God's presence began falling on their knees and repenting, when they sallied out of the county it went away. I never saw that kind of thing. But I heard some wild miracle stories,

7th Stooge said...

the moral turpitude of the individual priest not negating the sanctity of the mass makes a good deal more sense than the idea that an immoral leader can lead morally,

There's the idea now pretty widespread that God can use immoral leaders to do his will. Jim Bakker, Warren Jeffs, Pat Robertson have alluded to this. If the leader is on the "right side" of the cultural divide ( lower taxes, less regulation and a sop to the unwashed evangelical masses such as claiming to be 'pro life'and anti gay mariage) is all that matters.

Joe Hinman said...

There's the idea now pretty widespread that God can use immoral leaders to do his will. Jim Bakker, Warren Jeffs, Pat Robertson have alluded to this. If the leader is on the "right side" of the cultural divide ( lower taxes, less regulation and a sop to the unwashed evangelical masses such as claiming to be 'pro life'and anti gay mariage) is all that matters.

only among right wing evangelicals

7th Stooge said...

Yeah, that's the base of Trump's support among Xians.

Mike Gerow said...

aren't virtually all or the vast majority of evangelicals right wing?

The definition of the term now seems to imply "votes GoP", as Joe said, that being pretty much the essence of the "one-dimensionality."

Joe Hinman said...

78% of American Christians calling themselves "evangelical" support Trump. I guess ot os at true de facto. the technical definition involves non topological beliefs about theology.

7th Stooge said...

Yeah, I doubt that it's theologically driven. It seems more of a cultural thing. Literalism lends itself naturally to a reactionary, rearguard kind of attitude. Add to that there's astrain in Xianity where Xians want to see themselves as a besieged minority and now, that desire is being fulfilled, as we move into serious post-Xianity.

Joe Hinman said...

speaking of seeing oneself as besieged minority why do you keep using the atheist term of denigration for Christians?

Joe Hinman said...

they always denied that it was a term of denigration but when I started calling them "athers" got really upset,

Mike Gerow said...

Xian is easy to type .... & u avoid inadvertently spelling "Christ" wrong.

Lots of theology students in grad schools use that too, Joe

7th Stooge said...

I thought the Greek letter chi has been commonly used for well over a millennium to stand for Christ. And who cares what atheists do? Why so reactionary?

7th Stooge said...

they always denied that it was a term of denigration but when I started calling them "athers" got really upset,

Or you could refer to the holistic "ath" philosophy, or "ath-holism"...

Mike Gerow said...

I think 'x' is part of the move to post-Xianity! .... Or maybe to religionless xianity... But I live in Canada where "Christian" influence is less significant and there are only (at most) about half as many people percentage-wise (if there are still that many by now) who call themselves "evangelicals ". The evangelical church isn't so strong a political force here ....so we really only got the low-grade, everyday,secular/consumerist brand of one-dimensionality.

7th Stooge said...

Mike, Why do you think that Canada is so different? Less Calvinist and other perscuted religious minority influence? No Great Awakenings?

Mike Gerow said...

I don't think the special religious groups in early Canada were as large or influential to begin with, and I don't remember hearing of any group that had an especially significant historical prescence and a strong influence along the lines of the early Puritans a bit further south. The most significant political/cultural division up here was always linguistic and nationalistic - the French vs the Engish - and Canadian politics continued to revolve largely around that issue pretty much to the end of the 20th century even.

(The last nationalist referendum in Quebec on separation from the rest of Canada only took place back in the 1990's, hardly twenty years ago, and was barely defeated.... )

Kristen said...

One-dimensionality, as I understand it, is a product of our economic and political system. In that the evangelical church in America appears to now be seeking primarily economic and political power, it has bought into the systems that lead to one-dimensionality and has (according to Christ's words to one of the churches in the Book of Revelation) "forsaken its first love." This has been a problem throughout the history of Christianity-- that any time churches lose track of their original mission and begin to seek political and economic power and influence, they lose their connection to the transcendent and transformative, and simply become a means of preserving traditional power structures. Part of the reason this is so much more a problem in the US than in Canada, I think, has to do with the unholy alliance between American Christianity and slavery from the US's inception. For those to whom Christianity got tied up with the preservation and justification of slavery, a flat, "plain sense" reading of the Bible became, among other things, a means to that end. As slavery gave way to Reconstruction and then to Jim Crow, the mindset continued, and it has corrupted American evangelicalism to an extent that many evangelicals don't fully understand. "The Civil War as a Theological Crisis" by Mark A. Knoll explores this connection (between an evangelical-style hermeneutic and slavery) in depth and is well worth reading.

Joe Hinman said...

Well said Kristen that is an excellent commentary. Excellent point about the civil war,I think that American churches have a lot of hidden racism and white Americans are far being honest with themselves about that.

Joe Hinman said...

7th Stooge said...
they always denied that it was a term of denigration but when I started calling them "athers" got really upset,

Or you could refer to the holistic "ath" philosophy, or "ath-holism"...

--Yuk yuk

Joe Hinman said...

7th Stooge said...
Mike, Why do you think that Canada is so different? Less Calvinist and other perscuted religious minority influence? No Great Awakenings?

--Interesting question I don't know if the great awakenings spilled overs into canada or not,I know they have a lot Calvinists and they have some right winers, I learned on face book/

Mike Gerow said...

The evangelical culture exists in Canada, but not in the same numbers - only percent-wise about half as many.

Remember, Canada is about 1/4 French-speakers who tend to have RCC roots.

7th Stooge said...

Right. I've just always wondered why our countries are so different. The French influence is a factor, but the differences are so stark, there must be other factors. Slavery was never a major factor, maybe due to kinds of crops that were feasible. Climate might have played a part. And the religious make-up of the early settlers.

Mike Gerow said...

http://www.macleans.ca/opinion/how-powerful-is-the-religious-right-in-canada/

Notice how Canada is (shockingly) about 40% RCC? :-o I think that's likely the biggest difference, and a lot of those Catholics are French Québécois.

Also, note that the non evangelical Protestants still seem to outnumber the evangelical Prot wing? While some people here seem to admire the American model, that 20th century way of combining of politics and religion has never really taken root in Canada, I think cuz no religious or even cultural or racial group is large and homogeneous enough to hold sufficient sway.