Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cultural Catholicity Versus Divine Demographics

Concerning the various rival catholicities that jostle for recognition in the world of Protestant missionalism, Michael Horton argues that what we really need is to jettison our incarnational attempts to force God to fit into the soap operas of our own lives and instead see ourselves as characters in his drama of redemption: "It is the church's responsibility to stage local performances of God's 'community theater' through concrete practices."

The biggest impediment to this, Horton points out, is the fact that so many ministers are better social critics than they are pastoral theologians and exegetes.

It is remarkable how confidently pastors and theologians address the social, moral, economic, and political issues of the day in comparison with the false humility often displayed in proclaiming the doctrines of Christianity.... However, catholicity is an essential element of the community that any genuinely Christian mission serves. When the gospel unites us, there are no Republicans or Democrats, youth or elderly, rich or poor, healthy or sick, devotees of hip-hop or classical music, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or other, but fellow sinners absolved by the one who has all authority in heaven and earth to create his own demographic.
I think Horton is spot-on here. After all, the passage so often cited for cultural sensitivity (the one about Paul "being all things to all men") goes on to demonstrate how culturally insensitive the apostle actually was. Unless, of course, categorizing the entire world as either "Jew" or "Greek" counts as having one's ear to the ground and finger on the pulse.