« A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill | Main | Why so much aid for the poor has made so little difference »

Mar 11, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



You wrote, "The response by some emerging folks is what I would call apolitical, looking to build community. Others have adopted an Anabaptist separatist approach to political issues."

Basically everything else you wrote I would agree with. I too see the problems of the foundationalism of the Right and the Niebuhrianism of the Mainline/Left. Though I know the two sentences I quote aren't the point of your post, I would take issue with Christian community (I would note the Church is a community) as apolitical. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Church as polis needs to be understood and emphasized. We ARE a political body, one that steps outside the bifurcation of liberal/conservative (or at least we try to). I know that this is a very difficult thing to do, something that requires great imagination.

Also, I would note that the princes and Kings of Europe during the Reformation did not consider Anabaptists mere separatists. If so, they probably would not have killed millions of them. No, I would be much more inclined to think that it was because they represented a politics that called into question the kings' rule. Now whether that politics is right is a question to be discussed elsewhere, but it certainly cannot be dismissed as separatist or apolitical.

It seems to me that part of the problem of the Church in America is a very low ecclesiology. The fact that we can so easily distinguish between "Christian community" and the Church without batting an eye testifies to this. Thus, we outsource our task to government- whether that is the legislation of morality of the Right or the socialism of the Left. (Not to mention that we all keep our mouths relatively shut by allowing the government to wage war with impunity, despite a just war tradition 1500 or so years old).

Anyway, all this is to say that I've really appreciated reading your posts for the past 7 or so months, I wish I could be involved in more discussion, but I'm simply too busy with school. But one of the comments I made several months ago related to the work of Hauerwas. You responded by saying that you had read Resident Aliens. I've really been challenged by many of your posts regarding economics and politics, as well as your deconstruction of assumptions of the Left, but I've not seen many posts about how we as the Church are to be the Church, fulfilling our mission in the world. Now I don't know if I have just not noticed, you are not interested, or you disagree about the importance of the Church, but I would be very interested to dialogue with you about some of Hauerwas' writings.

David Brush

Thanks for that Michael!

I have grown up within the context of the Church of the Nazarene as well. I know that I, and several others I dialog with regularly still feel the concern over the weighty hand, of what I would now call the dying Religious Right movement (Yay!?). This concern I think is founded partly on a skewed version of holiness that began it's rise in the 50's and had no part of the original intentions of Bresee and the other founders vision for our denomination as an instrument of social justice. This specific focus on the urban areas of our nation was reversed in the 50's during the suburbanization of our cities, the church followed the money...

In regards to this skewed view of holiness that had hyper-focus on personal piety, the critique many of us in the younger generations have is that while someone claimed sanctification, and claimed piety, their personal lives in quite a few cases (not all) did not look any different than any other person from their generation. Sure they may not of smoked, drank, or swore, but other than our own body what good does that do for the body of Christ if we still sit on our butts.

All that said, times are changing. The old-guard will be gone in the next 20 years, and my generation will be influencing a lot of the direction and intention of the Nazarene Church. I see a combination of views in my generation in regards to politics, so I feel that we may see a broadening of what many would feel to be orthodox-nazrenedom in the coming years.

Peace to you Michael,

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks for the observations Darren. Personally, I think you should just quit school and read my blog. :) But that’s just me.

Seriously, the sentences you quote were intended as really big categories within which there is considerable nuance. There is, in the end, no such thing as an “apolitical” expression of the church. Disengaging from political issues is a political statement with political impact. By Anabaptist I’m referring to the inclination to see two stark, distinct, identifiable kingdoms in the world, in which we are called to offer a paradigmatic alternative to “worldly” living. There are many variations on how the two kingdoms should interact. Then there are “reformed views” that is more about entering into the world and its structures and being transformative agents from the inside out. While many Evangelicals are familiar with the more doctrinaire Religious Right expression of this I think many are less familiar with the often equally doctrinaire Religious Left expression. They think that by becoming socially progressive instead Religious Right they have joined some a new emerging expression of Christianity. Here is a post about that I think does a good job of highlighting different ethical traditions: Click Here. The critiques offered by Anabaptists and social progressives of social systems often are very similar but methods of response can differ.

It has been awhile since I’ve read much of Hauerwas but I realize he is a big favorite in emerging circles. I would need to go back and reread some stuff before engaging in specific dialog about his views but in general I’m not Anabaptist and that creates tension for me with his views on a number of issues including economic life.

“..but I've not seen many posts about how we as the Church are to be the Church.”

I may not have posted much recently but I think the series I did on The">http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/other_six_days_series/index.html">The Other Six Days goes directly to this issue. Also, my ">http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2007/10/household-of-go.html"> Household of God series.

I think some of what I’m thinking will be come evident in coming posts as I respond to McLaren’s book.

Michael W. Kruse

David, thanks for your comment. I'm very much aware of the changes in the church of the Nazarene. Are you familiar with Fundamentalism in the Church of the Nazarene: A Longitudinal Analysis of Social and Political Views by Ron Benefiel and Ken Crow, back in 2004? This study documents a monumental shift in the denomination in just a few short years. I still have Nazarene friends and family, so I haven't lost complete touch.

I actually wrote my master's thesis on the Church of the Nazarene back in 1984, using it as a case study for the "Sect-to-Church" hypothesis in sociology. My prediction was that when the fourth generation of Nazarenes came along there would be a major juncture in the direction of the church. It's nice to get it right even if only happens every so often. :)


Could you expand on what you mean by "foundationalism of the Right".

I look forward to the rest of your review, because I am too presbyerian to spend money on it:-)

Michael W. Kruse

Ron, on page 38 McLaren writes:

“Decartes’ method know to us today as foundationalism, sought to establish universally accessible first principles – incapable of being doubted or debated because of their pristine and universal logical clarity.”

Almost two years ago I did two lengthy posts within my Theology and Economics series:

The">http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/07/theology_and_ec_3.html">The Impact of Liberal Foundationalism

The">http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/07/theology_and_ec_4.html">The Impact of Conservative Foundationalism

In the second post I wrote:

“…The project of conservative Christianity has been to protect the traditional understanding of scripture, but without the appeal to traditional or ecclesiastical authority. The conservative project became a search for the essential or fundamental doctrines on which the rest of the Christian faith rests. All else would be built and justified upon this “foundation.” Conservative Christianity turned to rationalism and scientific analysis to show that the Bible was a perfect fail safe, bomb proof, system of teaching with no errors or unreasonableness. Any “reasonable” individual, as an objective autonomous person, should be able to see the self-evident rationality of God’s word.”

"I am too presbyerian to spend money on it:-)"

Hehehe...A common Presbyterian affliction.


Of course foundation is only one source of the problems. The gnostic dualism is probably more the source of their problems.

I note you are reading Donald Hay as a foundationalist. As I recall, he builds his book on ten principles.

Michael W. Kruse

I agree with you that Gnostic dualism is major factor. While maybe not using this explicit terms, this is one of the issues he has with missionaries in developing nations.

I don't remember Hay having 10 principles in "Economics Today." (I just started rereading.) Greg Mankiw does in his popular text book. There is an element of foundationalism in such an approach but identifying a set of principles as teaching tool is quite the same as foundationalism in the sense we are talking here. I think it is the difference between saying:

"There is a broad expansive reality to the topic that we can't give language to. Here are some abstractions about that reality that will begin to help you explore reality in its fullness."

And saying:

"The ultimate reality is my abstraction of principles. Add to, or subtract from, my list of abstractions, or alter any on my list, and you have erred. When you know my list you know the thing itself."

One is about illumination in order to better engage the complexity while the other is an attempt to reduce complexity to a set of abstractions.

Michael W. Kruse

BTW, I just finished chapter 2 of Hay this morning and he does list 8 priniciples. I had forgotton that.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Calmly Considered: Videocasts on Faith & Economics

Kruse Kronicle Series Indexes

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Kruse Kronicle on Kindle

Check It Out