Some folks gathered in Claremont, CA this week for what sounded like a fascinating conference called Theology After Google (TAG). While my duties at Woodridge UMC precluded me from attending in person, I was able to follow some of what was happening there some of the time thanks to the magic of twubs and ustream. I had both of those running in my office one morning as I attempted (and failed miserably) at multitasking. Later that day I wanted to watch and read more but had to turn it off in order to get some of my work done! What I saw and read was truly engaging and thought-provoking.
What was it all about? Much like the FirstThird Theological Dialogues on Youth Ministry conference I attended last week, it’s very hard to pin it down to one idea. Interestingly, as event leader Philip Clayton writes in his post-conference reflection, “this wasn’t really about Google. In one sense, it wasn’t even about technology. At a deeper level, it was about two questions: should the church adapt to the rapidly changing world around us? And, if so, what precisely should we do?”
It’s certainly worth your while to go read his whole post. In it Clayton contrasts the progressive approach, “attempting to be Christ-like to the people around us … by attempting to meet them where they are. Using new technologies, and thinking in new ways about our faith are part of that.” With a conservative approach to faith that says, very literally, “there is only one way to be Christian.” Left just barely unsaid by that group, “…and that one way is our way. The rest of you can suckit!”
Ok, so maybe, possibly, there’s a small chance, I added that last line.
That’s how some of my teenagers would have put it if they’d written it instead of Ken Silva. Who in the world is Silva and why does he think he gets to define for all people and all time what does and what does not constitute Christianity? I have no idea. And, frankly, I don’t care. Clayton is generous enough to link to one of Silva’s many hate-filled posts denigrating, well, nearly the entire world outside of himself. Personally, I don’t want to give the guy the satisfaction of a link. Though to Silva’s credit, he’s posted several comments on Clayton’s blog. It’s almost as he’s looking for actual dialogue. I’m not buying it and here’s why…
In the post Clayton links to, Silva declares Clayton’s theology “poison” and says, “Therein lies their attack in trying to say that there’s more than one way to be Christian. And this fallacy becomes crystal clear in the following…”
Silva goes on to quote Clayton’s desire to form a “big tent” Christianity which has room for people who might not agree on everything but who desire to transform the church and society. Why is that bad? I have no idea. But Silva calls it “fallacy” and “not Christian.”
So Silva doesn’t like progressive theologians because we acknowledge that people find many paths for following God in the way of Jesus. Next comes the unbelieve-but-hilarious as Silva actually has the unmitigated gall to complain, “‘the conservative church’ is painted in a negative light as being narrow-minded and exclusive claiming to be the ‘only’ ones ‘qualified to represent Jesus’ message and mission.’”
Really, Ken? That’s exactly what you did claim just two sentences earlier! You’re the one saying there is only one way to be Christian! If that’s not the very definition of narrow-minded then what the hell is?!?
Ok, deep breath. Sorry, this guy just drives me batty. And not in the good way. He even declares contemplative prayer as demonic! But that, dear reader, is a rant for another day…