by Barton Gingerich (@bjgingerich)
The Southern Baptists aren’t the only ones facing in-house theological squabbles. Voices from the amorphous emergence Christianity/evangelical leftist community are arguing over “giving up God for Lent.” No, this is not a time set aside for studies in apophatic theology.
Instead, author Peter Rollins is setting aside forty days to study and possibly entertain critiques against the existence of God. He hopes to experience an absence of the Divine, artificially engineering a “dark night of the soul.” This idea received a critical rejoinder from Micah Bales, a Quaker activist whom I met at an Occupy DC event last year.
Rollins responded with a post in which he delineated between Liberal and Radical theology. I highly recommend this piece for those interested in theology since it makes several helpful distinctions. Nevertheless, Bales rebuffed the accusation that he and others were simply run-of-the-mill activist Liberals. Instead, he offered a compelling case that the Holy Spirit is a Ground of Being, announcing, “I could no more give up God for Lent than I could give up gravity.”
Perhaps it’s just my inner-theologian, but I find this exchange to be a fascinating discussion (at least from the perspective of an outsider looking in). I actually resonate with points on both sides, but I do wonder if both projects are misguided. While I’m all for de-objectifying God to prevent idolatry, I can’t help noticing that both Rollins and Bales seek to elicit an experience and manufacture meaning, all the while lacking a stable liturgical practice (Quakers reject such forms while emergents tend to constantly innovate rather than stick to the worshipful practices of the patristic and medieval ages). This is just me shooting from the hip; such crises rarely occur in the traditionally orthodox circles of Christianity. As such, I’m putting this all under the hashtag of “#emergentproblems,” at least for the time being.
What are your thoughts? Share below!