Friday, March 17, 2006
Open at Both Ends
Flannery O'Connor, who always had a way of getting to the heart of things, once observed that "one of the good things about Protestantism is that it always contains the seeds of its own reversal. It is open at both ends--at one end to Catholicism, at the other to unbelief." I have come to agree with O'Connor--that Protestantism is inherently self-destructive. This may seem a strange notion, living as we do in the Land of the Megachurch. But historians, I suppose, take a little longer view of things. Anyway, for a good read on what is going on in Evangelicalism today--and a fine example of the last part of O'Connor's statement--read the review of George Barna's Revolution in Christianity Today here.
I am particularly struck by this disturbing paragraph from the article:
Still, Revolution's emphasis on personal choice would make a marketer rejoice and an apostle weep. Barna expects to see believers "choosing from a proliferation of options, weaving together a set of favored alternatives into a unique tapestry that constitutes the personal 'church' of the individual." The phrase "personal 'church' of the individual" must be the most mind-spinning phrase ever written about the church of Jesus Christ. Could it be that we evangelical Protestants, who have done more to fragment Christendom than any other group, are now taking that to the logical extreme: a church at the individual level, each person creating a personal "church" experience? At any other point in church history, "personal church" would be nonsensical. In today's America, it's the Next Big Thing.