Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Latte Lutherans 3: Faith and Starbucks

I will admit I am not the foremost observer of culture, however I have noticed a few things within the realm of church and culture that I find kind of interesting. Over the last few years out of the more evangelical wing of the larger Christian church has grown a movement that many are calling the emergent church. As with most sorts of movements it is kind of a push back against the dominant culture, or way of thinking, perhaps even a bit of a pendulum swing.

Here is my oversimplified understanding of a small portion of the emergent church movement. On the conservative, evangelical side of Christianity there has grown a strong push to define all of life in very black and white terms. The leaders of the emergent church movement have pushed back on that as they have recognized that there are areas of life that are a little more gray in hew. The black and white view of the world tends towards a rather American perspective of individuals needing to “pull themselves up the bootstraps” because they have been empowered by God to do so; it is the way God intended. The emergent church has heard a call to make a difference in the world.

I see this emergent church movement as a moving from a theology of glory to a theology of the cross. A professor of mine in seminary described a theology of the cross as calling a thing what it is. I might describe it as finding God in the cross, in suffering and serving, and seeing the world in all of its shades of gray. I would describe a theology of glory as one that might suggest that by living the way God called your life will be better (good), you will find glory (be glorified). As Lutherans we claim to be theologians of the cross. (I apologize to true theologians out there as I have completely skipped over all kinds of wonderful nuances of theology.)

As I read varies articles on leadership and these generations born since the early 1970’s I keep hearing that they want genuine community and to join something that makes a difference in the world. It sounds to me that this emergent church is lined up beautifully with the culture of this young adult generation. It also sounds to me a lot like a Lutheran understanding of how we are called to live in the world. I see us Lutherans as having a long history of taking seriously our call to love and serve our neighbor.

It is perhaps a bit of an indictment on the Lutheran church that these younger generations are generally not in worship, but have we ever got potential. We are poised with a theology that meshes well growing thought process of the emerging generations. We have a church culture that is pushing to become more and more Lutheran in their view of the intersection of faith and life. It sounds to me like we live in a world filled with a “latte” Lutherans.

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