On Sunday morning, I’ve volunteered for the task of building a bridge between a study on the history of the American restoration movement and a series of guest speakers, all from different faith traditions, that our class will entertain for the next three weeks.
Its been a frustrating process putting this one together. The temptation has been to throw in a bunch of questions about the post-enlightenment/postmodern era and talk about how it has influenced our concepts of spirituality. But I’m passing on most of that because there just isn’t time. Plus, I’m afraid that it would be seriously boring for a lot of folks.
So I’m now stuck with some stuff I really wanted to discuss/talk about that I’m going to have to shelve. If class were only more like a major Hollywood film, I could save it for the DVD version. But as things stand, I’ll have to settle for rolling this question out onto my blog.
The issue: The assumption of the reformation and enlightenment was that people could just read the bible, and, by applying reason, agree on all of the salient truths. These assumptions were particularly strong with folks like Alex Campbell, who was a founding father of the restoration movement in America. Several hundred years later, there are over 300 major protestant denominations and three major branches of the Restoration movement alone. Worse yet, everyone developed a “my set of beliefs can beat up your set of beliefs” mentality. Protestants protest protestants, and the protesting protesters are even protesting against each other. People are ready to defend “Left Behind” gospels, prosperity gospels, social gospels, acapella music gospels, Calvinist gospels, gospels based on obscure atonement theories, worship-on-the-seventh-day gospels, and charismatic gospels to the death. None of them agree on what people ought to think, or even on the issues that are most important to think about. I though we were all going to agree on biblical truths by applying reason to scripture! Something has gone wrong. In fact, I would say that something has gone terribly wrong.
My Question: What went wrong!?
Up next – some possible answers.
Related Tags: boring questions (to everyone but me, that is)