Miniblog #132: Searching for the Golden Mean of American Christianity
Within American Christianity I see a landscape wrought with all sorts of erroneous, unhealthy polarizations. On the whole, we’ve been undiscerningly imbued by our culture with a relentless commitment to autonomy, consumerism, democracy, novelty, pragmatism, and the like. Unsurprisingly, more than a few have perceived the glaring deficiencies of these presuppositions and responded with a reactionary swing to the other extreme.11.Individualism is delivered over to collectivism. Criticism gives way to defense. Independence is sacrificed to authority. Innovation is subsumed by restoration. Immediacy takes a backseat to longevity. This list could go on indefinitely. Meanwhile, I’m made uneasy whenever people assert an unassailable commitment to any of these extremes. It’s like my spidey sense goes off or something. It produces in my heart a nagging feeling that something is amiss, in my mind a profound intellectual skepticism, and in my soul a strange spiritual disconnect that I cannot fully explain. Having reflected on these matters a great deal over the years I cannot help but think another way must be possible. Surely there must be a balance between the individual and the community, private illumination and public revelation, isolated practices and corporate rituals, contemporary worldviews and ancient traditions, organic relationships and principled structures, creative renewal and cherished inheritance, rigorous thought and transparent feeling, etc. One day it struck me. What I’m basically looking for is Aristotle’s golden mean of American Christianity.22.The purpose of which isn’t creating or maintaining moderation but rather honestly upholding the innate tensions and paradoxes that already exist within the biblical, historical Christian faith.