Church has generally lagged behind the world’s development. We all use the idiom of this day outside the church. We tend to switch gears and think with the modern approach when we are in church circles. O… We may include the arts, but we don’t always let the artists say tough things.
To speak the language of this world does not simply mean having art, poetry, drama, dance or music in our worship services or for decoration. Intuitively you already know that we will have to go deeper than this in today’s idiom. When we are actually thinking in the language of a particular culture, it changes what priorities we may value. The question is… what does the world long for? What does it value? What does it despise? And then… how will such thinking in the idiom of today change how we do theology, how we even appropriate it, or locate it?
Some of the trouble the church has relates to a mode of thinking that we might call “Modern”. This modern mode has also been called “Foundationalism”, universal truth that can be explained, tested by logical argument, and be applied universally in all cultural contexts. Contrasting with this mode is “Postmodern Thinking”, which is a more wholism approach that holds conflicting ideas in tension, sees truth as relative to the contexts of each persons’ world, and tests truth through experience.
A modern system of theology tends to begin with some foundational ideas and then builds upon them. Not wrong! But since the turn of the last century, a more wholistic approach weighs ideas experientially. If we think in today’s idiom, how might wholistic system affect the way we do theology?
Today, it may not be unusual to hold two seemingly opposing theological ideas in tension… like pre-destination and free-will. No one today would burn someone at the stake for the other’s ideas. We can see the inherit value of opposing positions and, in some cases, we can live with both together.
Also, there probably is no new theology emerging as much as simply a shifting of priorities. Caring for our world as stewards of our environment is not new, but its priority is much higher today. There are many areas of justice that God is bringing to our attention, if we are to love one another truly. Justice in theology is not new, but many issues it raises are finding a very high priority today.
So where does the confluence fit in to this picture? The confluence will help us do what we already do naturally most days when we are not in the church. It will give us a chance to let our own intuitive listening to God source us with His priorities for our context today. From my research, I have settled on 6 ‘touchstones’ that represent priorities in today’s world. These priorities will help us with the way we locate and appropriate theological truth. Everyone will recognize them. Even Jesus used each of them. Artists will know them intuitively. These touchstones will show what truth is pure gold to people today. Hopefully they will help our churches think in the idiom of today.