Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that I take the creeds of the Christian church to have done more harm than good. Here are some words about that by Harvey Cox in his book The Future of Faith:
Creeds were always something theologians invented, often to stake out spheres of authority. The vast body of lay Christians knew little about them and cared less. Their faith was embodied in stories, saints’ days, baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But these everyday people constituted, after all, the vast majority.
The priests and theologians always remained a tiny minority. Consequently the recent emergence of “people’s history” is facilitating the recovery of Christianity’s original faith orientation. As the revival of religion and the change in religiousness spread around the world, it becomes clearer why the extraordinary growth of Christianity beyond the West is helping Christianity regain its initial impetus.
These areas lie far removed from Plato’s orbit. To be a Christian in India or Korea or Africa today does not mean to be a Christian à la grec. It means to be what is sometimes called a “postdogmatic” Christian. The content of the faith of non-Western Christians is much like that of the early church, even though the embodied style of their religion often resembles that of their non-Christian neighbors….
Religious people today are more interested in ethical guidelines and spiritual disciplines than in doctrines. They are also becoming less patriarchal, as women assume leadership positions in religions that have barred them for centuries, sometimes for millennia. Women are publishing commentaries on the Qur’an, leading synagogues, and directing Buddhist retreat centers. There are now women pastors, priests, and bishops in Christian denominations.
As you can see from these words things are changing at the root level in Christian churches. You might say that you have not seen much of a change but if you were a Christian in the southern hemisphere you would not question what is going on. Western Christians want to point to the fact that the church is growing so therefore this “emergent movement” really doesn’t have much muscle. The trouble with that belief is that like many of the current beliefs/creeds present in the western church are naive at best or wrong at worst.
Much of South America is made up of Roman Catholics but they are not like the ones you come across in your Sunday visits. They are literally giving the pope heartburn with their non-allegience to many of the things the church hold dear. They are not aligning to all the things they are told to believe. Many of them in fact have embraced liberation theology. I know from the 2008 elections that was a dirty name in this country but not so in other parts of the world.
Yes, Christianity might be holding its own overall but all of the growth is actually occurring outside Europe and the U.S and it is a very different Christianity than what we know. As the quote above says it much more closely resembles the early church than the modern church of the western world. I personally think that is a good thing. I kind of like the term post-dogmatic Christians. It has a nice ring to it. I will be covering some of this in future posts because it will be a critical issue in the post-modern/dogmatic church of the twenty-first century by the emergent movement among others.