I’ve already written a couple posts on changing times (here and here.
Less concrete in terms of dates and magnitude, but earth shattering none the less are the underground explosions on the theological front. Much of the Christian church seems (at least on the surface) to be continuing on as it has for years. The liberals are being liberal, the conservatives conservative, and both pooh poohing each others' stance on various issues. Both camps seem to be entrenching themselves more deeply in their positions, both quite sure that God is on their side. (And that is just assuming that there are only two points of view on any given question.) Religious/political alliances are solider than ever, and it might look like the status quo will remain.
But the tremors are coming from within, and ripples are becoming evident. Sacred, long-held and strongly supported views on a wide variety of issues (homosexuality and hell to name a couple) are coming under fire. Sermons are being preached, books are being published, blogs are being posted, and discussions are happening in coffee shops everywhere. In many ways, this proliferation of conversation is in itself a sign of change. Rather than trusting a few elite folk to determine what is important, and what is orthodox, anyone with a voice or a keyboard is making their thoughts known. The rank and file as well as the deeply studious are recognizing their right and responsibility to question some of these established positions. (This is probably the place to mention Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church) and Terry Jones (Koran burning pastor) who are doing a lot of shaking on their own.)
One of the very sad results is that parts of the church are not open to questions. The Protestant church came into existence because of the courage of certain people to question the status quo. Now some elements of that very Protestant church can’t handle people within it protesting or questioning. It seems that we still have a long way to go to live out the passionate desire of Jesus: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Asking questions isn’t unloving, it’s being honest. What is unloving is excommunicating someone because they have the insight to ask questions. What strikes me as refreshing is that these discussions are not springing from an indulgent, over-permissive way of thinking, but very often from a renewed concept of a God of grace and compassion. Surprising as it may seem, most of these disturbers are truly seeking to better grasp what the Bible is trying to tell us, what God may now be prompting us to discover. Sure, there are multitudes who wouldn’t see it that way, who believe their maintenance of the way things have always been is a firm allegiance to the fundamentals, and to God himself. But those who desire to question that foundation claim to also be building on something very fundamental—the character of God.
Suffice it to say that the times they are a-changin’, and that Japan isn’t the only place rumblings are happening below the surface. My forecast is for continued unrest and scattered conflict, giving rise to wide-spread turmoil and upheaval, probably ending with a readjustment of the traditional theological tectonic plates. But, like all seismic activity things will always be shifting.
Life has taken me from the rather predictable working year after year and not feeling fulfilled to serving with Youth With A Mission as a missionary in my homeland of Canada. I am presently active in Victoria, with responsibilities and interests in our YWAM office, and out on the street. (and feeling more fulfilled than at any time earlier in my life.)