Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Martin Marty on Ancient-Future Evangelicals

On Monday, the day before he turned 80, senior church historian Martin Marty took note of Christianity Today's cover story in his weekly "Sightings" commentary.

Back to Marty. He credits the CT cover story for stimulating some reflections on how American evangelicalism has changed and stayed the same.

These thoughts were brought on this week by my reading of Chris Armstrong's "The Future Lies in the Past," subtitled "Why evangelicals are connecting with the early church as they move into the 21st century," in the February issue of Christianity Today. Armstrong takes off with a report on the 2007 Wheaton Theology Conference on "The Ancient Faith for the Church's Future." He pays tribute to the recently-deceased Bob Webber, the pioneer in this "connecting" work. Many of us had paid tribute to him as he lay near death at the time of a 2006 conference on this theme, one in which I participated and found ample opportunity to do some sizing up. As Armstrong describes it, this growing minority is weary and wary of an evangelicalism that puts too many of its bets on growth for growth's sake, triumphalism, present-mindedness, and repudiation of the Christian past.

The 2006 conference Marty refers to was the first conference on the Call to an Ancient-Evangelical Future, where he was one of the speakers.

Marty notes that a small minority have migrated to liturgical churches, but that the issue for most Ancient-Future evangelicals is not migration but positive change based on ancient understandings: "Most remain in the churches of which they were a part, but bring in change—not made up of novelties, but based on the early Christian church. The changes are to be used not as antiques or period pieces, but as challenges to many of the forms that took over in recent decades."

You can trust Marty to get to the heart of things. Read his full commentary here.

And for more on Chris Armstrong check his blog.

1 comment:

Chris Armstrong said...

Thanks for this mention, David, and for the link to my blog.

Just an update: I now blog at