TNT: Call-In Special for Church & World Challenge

TNT Version1Last month Bo & Callid discussed it on TNT, then Bo put out the Church and World Call-In Challenge and hot diggity we got some great calls! This episode is a selection of those calls and the Nerd’s responses.

We want to thank those who donated to the show and sponsored the episodes this month. Thank you to Jay Bakker, John Pohl, as well as Susan Rogers St Laurent and Marc St Laurent.

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If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!

10 comments
tom c
tom c

On the trichotomy of messianic, therapeutic, and prophetic forms of Christianity -- what's so bad about therapeutic Christianity (i.e. being your best self in a problematic system)? I'll grant you that it is a bad thing if one is not challenging the problematic system at all, but not everyone is in a position where they can openly stand against the system that is identified as problematic (whether it be national, capitalist, denominational, or congregational). I knew a pastor in 2003 who opposed the invasion of Iraq but was very equivocal on the topic with the congregation out of fear of alienating wealthy church members. Speaking out prophetically might divide s community or cost someone their job.

In economy like this, it seems reasonable that people might weigh prophecy against other forms of responsibility. Could that pastor in 2003 have got things right after all? The discussion about members of the military during the podcast really brought this to light; reducing their existential options to messianic or therapeutic Christianities seemed itself problematic to me. Having a discussion with a military chaplain or a service member on the show about these matters would be more respectful.

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@tom c You may have gotten too much momentum us too early here :)

You open by asking a question - so I will give a response. "What's so bad about therapeutic christianity?"  Nothing.  I work at a therapeutic church.    Who said there was anything wrong with that?     

Would that response have changed the rest of your comment? 

Second, the scenario that you outline about 2003 makes total sense.  I have no problem with that. I just want to be clear that she/he (the pastor) made a choice that took being prophetic off the table.  I'm simple saying that at that point you have limited your options. 

You actually prove my point. Now the question becomes "Is Christianity supposed to be prophetic?" And that might be a better question. 

Lastly, I was responding to a question I was hearing for the first time. It wasn't about lining up a chaplain to be more respectful. It was an honest response to something I was asked in the moment. 

Hope that help clarify a couple things. Let me know if it doesn't. I have been thinking about blogging my response to open up the conversation.   -Bo 

tom c
tom c

Hi Bo,

Sure, that would change the rest of my comment, and I like your altering the question to "Is Christianity supposed to be prophetic?"

I don't know any military chaplains, but I have had some students (at a community college at which I taught during grad school) who had been to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. This was a different setting -- philosophy and religious studies courses at a secular institution -- but a parallel question arises: to what extent should education consist in radical critique and to what extent should it help people live a little better (with better life skills, better career prospects, fewer prejudices, etc)? This is a tough question/problem for me; I can only imagine what it must be like for clergy. I don't think it is an either/or, but one does have to choose their priorities from time to time...

Anyhow, this is what was behind my thoughts this morning as I listened to the podcast... (Thanks again, by the way, for what continues to be a great show.)

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@tom c Glad that you wrote back in. 

All 3 churches that I have pastored in have military folks presently serving and 2 had chaplains.  This is not something I take lightly - I have wrestled with it for 15 years and I stand by my tri-formulation :)   -Bo 

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

Yeah, I wonder Bo. Does being a military chaplain mean you can't be prophetic ever? Jesus was a Jew, but yet spoke prophetically to Jewish Pharisee's etc...

Jesus was the ultimate hypocrite in a way (from the pharisee's perspective) right? He claimed the law was not to be done away with but yet healed people on the sabbath. Why can't a military chaplain speak out against the things that are messed up about nataionalism, capitalism & imperialsim while serving? Obviously, like tom C points out, this chaplain would put herself in an awkward place, perhaps risk being repremanded etc...but it's not very much unlike Dorthy Day being a prophetic voice while remaining firmly inside the Catholic tradition, or the Hebrew prophets remaining in the Jewish tradition, no?

I dunno, just thinking out loud.

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

Ah, gotcha. Yup that changes the formulation my friend :)

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

@Jesse Turri If you listen to that segment again, I said 'IF you are not critiquing the very uniform that you wear ... THEN you are not being prophetic and this other 2 become your only options.' 

Does that change the way you formulate the equation?  -Bo 

ngilmour
ngilmour like.author.displayName 1 Like

First, I love that I've become a character in TNT.  

Second, now that I heard other callers and your discussions of the same, I wonder whether we're not dealing with some connotation-boundary disputes.  I think that the caller's assertion (I listened yesterday) that we've all got some of the world to us (I paraphrase) might be the key here.  In that sort of theological rhetoric (the sort I was trying to name, though perhaps not successfully), "the world" tends to name ethical tendencies inherent in current systems, things that the faithful should name and confront.  Thus, as Tripp said later in the episode, there's always "world" to confront, no matter what the historical moment.

On the other hand, the way that some folks use "the world" (the way that Bo seemed to be naming in the original question), it becomes a place to which one could point on a map or at least name as a distinct "place" from "church."  As I said in my own call, I think Bo's right that the "world" in the first sense (those ethical dispositions that the Church is called to resist) is, in 2013, a function of Christendom as well as a function of the last 300 years' worth of resisting Christendom (French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Sexual Revolution, Dance! Dance! Revolution, and so on).  

I think the most lucid short response to these historical dynamics I've read recently is David Bentley Hart's in "Atheist Delusions": to paraphrase him, the rise of Christianity as a broad cultural phenomenon meant that whatever the Church was before Constantine would always be a memory and an aspiration rather than a given, but it also meant that whatever Empire was before Constantine could never be other than a memory or an aspiration, not a given.  Hart, calling the fight, says that Empire probably came out hurting worse than Church.

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

I'm reading Atheist Delusions now. Hart is a walking dictionary.

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

Great show you guys. Thanks for the shout out too :)

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