Emerging/Emergent Trait 9: Merging Anicent and Contemporary Spiritualities - Sept 22
Description: This is the final key trait. I plan to summarize in a few days after giving these traits time to sink in. Here prayer, caring for others along with a holistic way of life is important, especially in a fast paced culture that is modern life with its growing demands and family pressures that play out side by side. There is a strong third Wave charismatic influence in many of these churches, reflecting the influence of Peter Wagner and John Wimber. The emphasis here is an inviting of the presence of the Spirit rather than being focused on a particular manifestation of the Spirit as with older charismatics. Ancient spiritual practices have been resurrected. Those that bring participation are preferred. Certain types of liturgical prayer, icons, some rituals are used. Placing a spiritual tone to all activities of life is important. The result is an eclectic expression of spirituality. There is a desire to avoid hyperactivity so as to be in a position to hear God. Reflection and silence are built into the worship and community time. Liturgy is not seen as a repetitive exercise but as a resource for such reflection, as inspiring and powerful. Time of confession of the Table, for incense takes place. In fact, the role of liturgy and the Table are becoming more central. Some desire to retrieve a monastic spirituality but without the isolation, that is, engagement plus contemplation. This includes vows of simplicity, purity of life and mutual accountability. Building teams that fellowship and witness. Liturgy might express in contemporary terms the pain and angst of the current world and life in it. At an individual level, spiritual disciplines are taught. Journaling, fasting, times of personal reflective silence, and the use of a prayer book are among the activities undertaken. Even exercise, art, and eating right are a part of the equation. along with study of the Word. The goal is to pursue a "whole life faith." Receiving spiritual counsel is also a part of such a walk. This leads to places to interact, which is why the cafe is often a setting for the church. There is sometimes engagement with other mystical forms of spirituality from Judaism or Islam. The hope here in part is to provide a comparative and contrastive experience. Evaluation: The emphasis here on the entire life is a solid value. The variety of options open to communities is being explored in a helpful way. The effort to reconnect with older forms of worship also has value. the use of liturgy can help people to express their faith and see it in fresh ways. Worship and spirituality is recognizing that God does not need to be invited to be present but the he is present. What one is really doing here is calling oneself to be open to God's presence and direction. The idea of having church in traditional non-church environments is an extension of meeting again in homes with new more modern venues being put to work. This also is a creative move. The utilization of other forms of mysticism seems less valuable, and even confusing. It is not that the form of an exercise might not be valuable, but that the perception of an indifference to important differences between faiths risks being underappreciated. When this is combined to giving less emphasis to the Word as content or even to pursuing a way of Christian theological thinking (yes, both as conceptual, worldview defining theology, as well as for life), then the danger becomes even greater. Here lies one of my greatest concerns for E/E. In becoming more consciously post-modern, the place of truth and of perceiving with the categories Scripture calls us to be discerning about are reduced in significance in a way that ultimately can damage the community. One is not seeing the pursuit of certainty here, as that is not possible. But judgments still need to be made. Not all expressions of spirituality are created equal.