THEOLOGY & Scot McKnight on Ecclesiaphobia

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my research into emerging and fresh expressions of the church in both North America and England, I have witnessed what Scot McKnight calls ecclesiaphobia. Here is a good introduction to the concept, along with some important concerns.”

by: Scot McKnight, 7/6/15.

In a few of his many writings Roger Scruton wags his finger at the deconstructionists, and he’s concerned especially with Foucault and Rorty and in some measure Derrida. He calls the concern oikophobia. (See his A Political Philosophy or The Need for Nations.) Oikophobia is a Greek term, composed of house/household and fear, and the term is thus used to describe rejection of all things local and home-ish, that is, that which is Western, traditional, the supposed hegemony of bourgeois culture, and what amounts to a Western sense of economy.

To one degree or another the oikophobes become anarchists. Anarchy, by definition, is oikophobia.
Oikophobia, it can be said with utter candor, in the hands of some — I have my eye on a few authors and supposed leaders of the church who in one way or another believe God/Jesus has left the house — has become ecclesiaphobia, a fear of all things connected with the institutional, traditional church. In fact, both terms are suspect: institution and tradition. It must all be done away with, we — I now speak in their mindset — must start all over again, we gather our crowds of the discontented, and then we pretend (for that is all it is) that the institution and the tradition are dying so let’s join in what will be when it will be and we will be its true priests and prophets (most are males.

For sure, some ecclesiaphobes claim they love the church and that is why they are oikophobic ecclesiaphobes, but the fact is that they (1) love only the church constructed in their own mind of idealism and (2) snarl at most or all institutional or traditional forms of the church. Indeed, they are rejecting 99% of the church in the world. The hubris can be breathtaking.

First, we and they only got to the social tolerance and acceptability of their accusations on the basis of the oikos and the ecclesia as it existed in that traditional and institutional form.

Second, ecclesiaphobia operates structurally with a series of denials: it…
(1) nullifies the church is to operate on the basis of the Biblical tradition of Wisdom, made manifest in Christ and in the history of the church through an ongoing accumulation of theology-in-praxis that becomes both the resource and the guide to present and future decisions,
(2) diminishes Scripture as the origin for all theological reflection,
(3) quenches the Pneuma of God (God’s Spirit) over time — that God’s Spirit has been at work in the entire history of the church — as a fund of wisdom and divine guidance or discernment,
(4) minimizes tradition as another fund of theology-in-praxis-over-time and thinks instead starting anew will become a better tomorrow, and
(5) it fundamentally veers in its arrogance from the judgment of the universal, catholic church in the world and believes itself either as the vanguard of where the church ought to be or as so wise that it need not listen to the wisdom of the church universal.

To sum this up, the ecclesiaphobe has denied the sacredness of the church, or put differently, the sacredness of the history of the church. The enviornment of the ecclesiaphobe is de-sacralizing of the past. What gives them energy is belief about the future church.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/07/06/ecclesiaphobia/

WORSHIP & Comparions of Ancient-style vs. Future-style

by Bob Whitesel from Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 emerging Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006).

Figure: A Partial Comparison of Ancient-Future Elements[i]

Ancient-Future Orientation Fuses the Two Columns

Ancient Future
Liturgical Musicology: –   Hymns-   Chants, etc.-   Professional interpretation. –   Alternative music-   Drum circles, etc.-   Audience participation.
Ambiance: –   Candles-   Natural lighting –   Computerized images,-   Mood walls.
Iconography: –   Plain icons such as:

  • Ichthus symbol,
  • Chi Rho (Constantinian) cross.

–   Lavishly ornamented icons such as:

  • Celtic symbols and crosses,
  • Byzantine symbols and crosses.
–   Techno-icons such as:

  • Mars Hill’s Directions© signs,
  • And, St. Tom’s Lifeshapes©

–   Stylized icons, where artists interpret ancient symbols via modern artistic genres, e.g. multi-media, expressionism, surrealism, kinetic art, etc.

Truth Delivery: –   Presentation of the Word via sermonizing, pedagogy-   Intricate musical lyrics.-   Art, such as stained-glass windows, mosaics, sculpture, church architecture, banners/tapestries, drama, etc.-   Stations of the Cross –   Interaction with the Word via questioning, dialogue-   Native[ii] musical lyrics.-   Art, such as film, video, acting, design, poetry, dance, photography, pottery, visual arts, abstract art, kinetic art, mixed-mediums, etc.-   Interactive stations
Christ and Culture –   Christ Against Culture, [iii]) leads to monastic disciplines (e.g. Tertullian, St. Benedict:

  • Prayer grottos,
  • Prayer labyrinths.
  • Meditation,
  • Spiritual retreat.
–   Christ Above But Working Through Culture, [iv] leads to sifting culture where,

  • Some elements are judged,
  • Others reaffirmed,
  • For the transform-ation of the whole.[v]
Discipleship Ethos –   Monastic, “withdrawal from the institutions and societies of civilization.”[vi] –   Missional, with engagement and “dynamic equivalence.”[vii]

Footnotes:

[i] The chart is not meant to be exhaustive. It is presented here simply to give the reader a general direction of the ancient-future nexus. The elements of these columns will continue to evolve and adjust along with culture, experimentation, and effectiveness.

[ii] Native is a word I have introduced into the organic discussion due to a sense it conveys the duality of the organic church’s sentiments, where feelings of opposite extremes are acknowledged, and even expected as the result of humanity’s fall. Thus, native sums up the dual yet inborn nature of humanness, where emotional pairings such as the following contest with one another: e.g. faith-doubt, love-hatred, impartiality-prejudice, acceptance-alienation, community-isolation, exuberance-despondency, reassurance-apprehension, chance-predetermination, etc. Such human duality is often expressed in the organic church’s liturgy, songs and teachings; and has biblical precedence in the psalmists’ meditations, e.g. Psalm 12, 53, and 139 among others.

[iii] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, pp. 45-82.

[iv] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 113-115.

[v] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, pp. 92-95, 120.

[vi] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, p. 56. It should be noted that I have not witnessed any societal withdrawal due to monastic tendencies in the organic church. Rather their monastic elements are primarily evident in spiritual disciplines, such as praying at the monastic hours.

[vii] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 315-327.