Broderick Greer, who often writes insightful and sharp critiques on his twitter feed, set off an interesting conversation with his tweet:
“The evangelicals with instagram hipster aesthetics and churches that meet in theatres know EXACTLY what they’re doing: Misleading otherwise-progressive urbanites to adopt fundamentalism in skinny jeans, accompanied by a drum set.”
The conversation took a non-sequitur turn when Katelyn Beaty @KatelynBeaty subtweeted:
“I have personally been duped by churches where the pastors wear traditional stoles with crosses on them, only to find out years later that no one on the pastoral staff affirms the resurrection.”
The opinions that flew in response to her were varied and fascinating.
I have three quick reflections on these tweets that I would love to hear your response to.
First, in my year out of church ministry I had a chance to go to different church services each Sunday. I would mix it up between Evangelical and Mainline congregations mostly. Sometimes I went to multiple churches on the same morning. It was an eye-opening experience.
Perhaps the most interesting trend I saw was that the more conservative an Evangelical church was – the more fashionable the clothing style. It was odd enough that I would comment on it to my students (I was a visiting seminary prof.) They were well aware of this pattern.
Turns out that lots of non-LGBTQ affirming churches dress really hip.
I first noticed the trend about a decade ago, ever since the Mark Driscoll led Mars Hill Church in Seattle was so over the top at it. At first, I thought that maybe it was more pronounce here in the Pacific NW (I live in Portland) but then I asked friends around the country and it is actually probably even worse east of the Rockies.
I now understand why nearly everyone who visits a church has scouted the website first. Rock-n-Roll evangelical churches may say “all are welcome” but if they are not open-and-affirming or don’t support women in ministry … eventually it will come out.
Second, I am not sure how ‘progressive’ is being used in this current debate. When I use progressive (as in ‘Bible Study for Progressives’) I mean that:
- History has progressed and the present is not the same as the past.
- The arc of history is long and there is a trajectory towards justice.
- That trajectory is more inclusive and empowering of formerly marginalized and disadvantaged people and groups.
- The future is not found in reclaiming a romanticized notion of the past.
In this sense, I’m not sure that ANY of these ‘hip’ evangelicals would qualify as progressive. Broderick is Anglican so maybe Rock-n-Roll evangelicals are progressive when it comes to worship innovation?
How do you understand ‘progressive’? I want to make sure I know what others are hearing when I identify as a progressive.
Third, I am amazed how any conversation about ‘the’ resurrection – both for and against it – presume a literalist physical view. The result is that both views miss the point of resurrection entirely.
The resurrection is one of my favorite topics because the either/or options that most people have been provided after the Enlightenment seem to be a real barrier. The conservative versus liberal arguments about a physical versus spiritual resurrection seem to focus on the probability and provability of a resuscitated corpse and sound dangerously close to gnostic notions of body and spirit.
The gospel narratives, on the other hand, point to a Jesus who had a glorified body post-Easter. It could both walk through walls (for miraculous entrances) but was solid enough to make breakfast on the shore for His disciples. It bore the scars of Calvary so that (doubting) Thomas could touch His side where the spear had entered but different enough that He could be mistaken for strangers at first. He was neither a zombie nor a ghost – we have completely missed the point of Easter: glory.
Resurrection created an Easter people who live into hope, possibility, justice, imagination, and second chances. Life ruptured death. Christ penetrated history and split it in two. Hope overcame darkness.
New life rose up on the other side of this life. This is the proleptic moment. We know the future of every human and of all living things: New Creation.
I look forward to your thoughts.