Comments 2

  1. I think you’re misusing the two kingdoms concept to apply it as you do, and you are definitely stacking the deck by saying the church has only a choice between irrelevance/decline/failure and affirming whatever people pursue as meaningful in their lives.

    No doubt the presentation of Christianity as a political and doctrinal package of weaponized dogmas for use in the culture wars is a serious turnoff and corruption. I am nevertheless skeptical that the pursuit of “peak experiences” and special value or meaning in a life dedicated to fashionable pursuits is not just another way of relegating God to the boundaries of human existence. If anything, the narcissism, consumerism, and celebrity cultism that goes with pop cultural pursuits presents an even greater incentive to forms of idolatry. At bottom, everyone wants to be exceptional, and if it’s that pride that drives people to sacralize their idols, I do not think we will ever see an end to false religious dualities set up to aggrandize certain people, certain pursuits, and certain sectors of creation. Christians have always been relevant by being common, humble servants who can offer good counsel and discern critically where God is truly present as opposed to mistaken for an emotion or his will confused with one’ personal agenda.

    1. Chad,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes, you’re right—the two kingdoms perspective is much more complex than a 800 word blog allows for. Even though I personally don’t use two kingdoms language I believe it’s possible to do so and still agree with much of what is written above. There are distortions on both side of the debate—of course the transformationalist stuff easily becomes an excuse to baptize everything in the same way the “two kingdoms” perspective runs the risk of cutting cultural life off from faith and grace. If you follow Bonhoeffer’s theological development from his earliest work to his papers and letters it’s clear that he strongly opposes the “isms” you mention in the same way he opposes the misuse of dogma and religion. For Bonhoeffer the Christian community must stand in opposition to every form of idealist ideology that prevents us from living as responsible human beings made in the image of Jesus Christ. He seems to be calling for a much more serious form of “secularity” that I believe even transformationalist neo-calvinists can embrace. The hard work is to keep from falling off to either side: religious conceptual idolatry on the one side and cultural ideology (which becomes a different type of idolatry) on the other. This blog post is an attempt to address the religious conceptual idolatry side of the discussion in the context of the religious experiences of young people. It does not address the cultural ideology piece that you bring up. Maybe another blogpost? By the way, my critique of Kinnaman’s work is that he doesn’t take cultural ideology seriously enough. Christianity should not just accommodate itself to the cultural experience of young people, but neither should it fall into an abstract idealist form of transcendence that disconnects faith from our embodied cultural life. Instead, it’s a narrow way—a middle way—that takes creaturely life lived before the face of God seriously.

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