Sunday, November 04, 2007

On Narrow Confessions and Broad Catholicity

It has been suggested in the comments under the previous post that our Federal Visionist brethren, since they borrow from a host of different traditions, are the least individualist and schmismatic people in the entire Reformed world.

But if early twentieth-century liberalism and late twentieth-century evangelicalism (or "evangeliberalism" for those of you who like combining stuff) have taught us anything, it is that having a "least-common denominator" approach to church is a bad idea, for if the prize goes to the folks with the most catholicity and fewest distinctives, then we can always find more fat to trim off to win it.

I'll see your total depravity and raise you the deity of Christ....

For my own part, I'd rather enjoy a spiritual, grassroots unity with all believers, while maintaining institutional and churchly unity with those who hold to the confessions of my church. And as for those who deny the gospel, well, I don't feel the need to have any unity with them at all (at least not in the kingdom of Christ, but if they want to sit down and talk about the Kobe/Shaq Lakers or when U2's last great album was released, I'll buy the ale).

But if we exalt the intangible and noncorporeal kind of unity to the exclusion of the unity that is embodied in actual traditions (you know, the kind with borders that define who they are), then whatever else we may call ourselves, we will have to add "Gnostic" to the top of the list.

So yes, like our "postmodern" emergent friends, the fellas in the Federal Vision camp love to pick and choose from various Christian traditions and weave it all into an interesting cloth. But like all those throughout modernity, the filter through which these various elements must pass is still the autonomous individual.

Maybe the biblicist apple doesn't fall far from the Kartesian tree after all....