When did you last hear a quote from CS Lewis?
It was Sunday for me. Quotes from CS Lewis, NT Wright and a few others thrown in for good measure. I'm swamped. Overwhelmed. I've heard them all.
Many of these writers, theologians and orators had much to offer to our theological history. But do you ever get tired of going to Sunday Book Club? Sometimes it seems that is what Sunday church services have become.
Preachers find a populist speaker or author to quote and then build a so-called message on top of it. Minutes of book readings that are derived from other books and those are derived from ancient scripts.
Is there anything new anywhere in existence? Solomon would say no, but others protest there is still something new to be uncovered.
I don't comprehend how human experience can be changing almost daily but those charged with articulating the Gospel in this new world shy away from fresh, original interpretation and commentary on how the Gospel makes sense in today's world.
People are so comfortable to rally around what those who are dead or famous have to say about faith. It's much easier for preachers and teachers to find reassurance in the assurance of those who have already been published or found popularity.
Is it good? I don't know. Is it right? I'm not sure.
I like to think that God is involved enough in the everyday life of every community to offer unique insight and action within any small or large group that gathers as one. Still, as long as I can walk into a church community on any Sunday and simply hear what has already been said, I think we're missing the point. In some churches, you'd be hardpressed to know which books are more precious—the Scriptures or Eugene Peterson, NT Wright, CS Lewis, Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton and so on.
There's nothing wrong with the beauty and insight these writers offer to the Christian faith and even to the broader study of the humanities. However, they are not books to pin our daily living on.
Wisdom for daily living is found by examining our lives, in the context we live in now, through inner dialogue with the Spirit and external dialogue with our community of faith as we wrestle with applying the Scriptures in our context. We need our own words.
Are preachers afraid to hold and then stand by their own opinions? Are theologians afraid to come up with anything new?
When mathematicians explain why we feel time moves faster as we age, they use a standard exponential equation. For each year we live, a year becomes a smaller relative measure of time. Hence, they pass faster. Does the same equation work for faith? For all we learn, do we become more aware of what we do not know and therefore lose our confidence to think for ourselves.
It's simple really. Today's social conundrums and challenges are more explicity and defined as issues of sexuality, social construct and norms than ever expressed in modern human evangelicism. We require new ways of thinking, understanding and interpreting what is good, what is true and what should be held onto in these new days.
Who will be brave enough to interpret and construct new ways of being in this new world? Who will be brave enough to see that we are the children who stand on the shoulders of giants who have been before, who never saw the horizons we are challenged with?
I don't want to go to Book Club on Sundays and hear a preacher talk to me about what they've read. I'm thinking for myself Monday to Sunday and I expect preachers are too: but are you?
Tash McGill is a digital strategist by day. That means helping people make smart decisions about all things digital. Her passion is people and communicating ideas that shape our world, especially the world of young people. Formerly a youth worker and theologian, Tash is passionate about identity and spiritual formation alongside a healthy dose of hospitality.
Tash McGill's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tash-mcgill.html