“We cannot understand religion or religious expressions in terms which are overly simple, and we ought to have a deep, abiding suspicion for explanations of religious behavior which fail the test of sufficient complexity, whether those explanations are given by academics, politicians, members of religious communities, or some combination of all three.”
That’s from my friend, Zack. I have been thoroughly nauseated in the past few weeks by this ‘Jesus>Religion’ video. Sorry, I ‘m not going to address this substantively (and sorry Zack for letting the word ‘nausea’ creep a little too closely to your name, they aren’t associated in my mind), and I ‘m not going to pat Jefferson Bethke, Driscoll-iple, for “starting dialogue” or upholding authenticity. I ‘m happy to hear that some people have been blessed by it – but my stomach churns when I listen to such items. My heart mourns for those who are being and have been abused by Mars Hill. I wish I could separate these two thoughts, but for the moment, I can’t.
Simple answers harm. I believe, simply, that the problem is looking for a simple answer. Even hearing Bethke admit openly that he was not condemning the church does n’t abate the nausea. Using a term deceitfully in order to uphold your own view is poor form, especially when that form fits our preference for that which makes agreement a simple matter. ‘Religion’ for religious people (and those who follow Jesus are by nature ‘religious’) intersects with innumerable aspects of their lives. It intersects with the political (Jesus came announcing the establishment of his kingdom, interject a study of mishpat in Isaiah), with the communal (the very nature of the church in Acts coupled with the missing priorities extolled in Corinthians and James), with the sociological (uh, people are involved), with the historical (it happened in time – even claiming that others have got it all wrong requires that you acknowledge history), with the phenomenological (stuff happened), etc.
In short, it’s irreducible. The straw man (straw women are n’t respected enough to be rejected in Driscoll’s overt teaching, which is all that his work can be judged by for most of us) is easily dismissed. We hit ‘like’ and are lumped in with them or we ignore it, shake our heads, and don’t agree with them. I completely fail to see how substantive dialogue develops when terms are chosen so poorly. For me, these concepts fail to deal with issues in sufficient complexity, whether those problems are in the church, marriage, sex, identity, leadership-models, abuse, or counseling. Explanations can only be applied insofar as they are helpful – I fail to see how anything substantive has been added to the discussions.