I agree with Justin Taylor who feels a tad embarrassed that he posts everything Carl Trueman writes. Contrary to what you might think (given all the links I give to Dr. Trueman), I am not getting paid for this. I really do think Trueman’s stuff is just that good.
His latest essay for Reformation21 is a must-read: “Why Are There Never Enough Parking Spaces at the Prostate Clinic?” It’s a wry look at evangelicals who are obsessed with cultural analysis and cultural relevance. His contention is that an obsession with culture can undermine a Christian commitment to universal truths. He writes:
“What began as a healthy concern to contextualize theology led in many cases to theologies where the particulars of context (whether geographical, social, political, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation etc. etc.) effectively trumped the universal horizon of scripture. Â The perfect storm of anarchic postmodern philosophies, identity politics, hyperspecialisation and fragmentation of the theological discipline, fear of cultural irrelevance, and the eclectic mindset of the consumer have combined to create a situation where the particular rules, messiness Â is in, and the church is little more than a cacophony of competing voices (or, to use the trendy and pretentious terminology, `dissonant vocalities’). Â On every corner, huckster theologians who have made their careers out of creating this mess are selling you the problem as if it is the solution, and theology now abounds with Orwellian newspeak: chaos is order; contradiction is consistency; valueless trivia is vital truth. Â And the Christian culture vultures are at the cutting-edge of this, with their focus on the particular and the peripheral rather than the universal and the central. Â Kids’ stuff – teenflicks and sex and the internet – holds centre stage in so much Christian cultural conversation, perhaps a sign of the West’s obsession with all things adolescent, perhaps a sign of the permanent adolescence of many of the interlocutors. Â And let’s face it, no-one ever loses in today’s evangelical market by backing the peripheral rather than the central, or by overestimating the triviality of the tastes of the Western Christian consumer. Â Is a Christian bookstore going to make money selling a book on the Incarnation or on prayer, or one on Christian approaches to body image, or The Simpsons, or how to improve your sex life?”
Read the rest here.
Who are the Huckster theologians on “every corner”? Ok … so maybe a few of the emergent guys are selling the problem as the solution (in a certain sense), but Hucksters “on every corner”? It seems that we Reformed types are always exaggerating the negative aspects of evangelicalism and making it appear worse than it really is. We seem to have a little case of theological paranoia.
Actually … It appears to me that between books on spiritual stuff vs. cultural stuff, the spiritual stuff sells better.