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It’s been quite some time since I last made an appearance here; and I really do have a lot to say, but I’m thinking a more concise and structured format different from free flowing thought would be best. Also, during this little hiatus from writing, I’ve realized through reading a series of other blogs that those I appreciate most are either of friends I hold dearest, or those that reference articles, books, or current events, which help to quench my insatiable curiosity of the human experience. As such, I hope my blog from here on out provides one or both of those essentials. Please bear with me if this gets a little excessive.

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“Rather, what I hope to show is that evangelicalism, in reaction to the modernist-fundamentalist controversies, pursued a strategy for survival via a defense based in the autonomous structures of modern reason and politics. In the process, we gave up the true core of our Christian politics – the person and work of Jesus Christ – and set ourselves up for a fall by in essence becoming a form of “religious ideology.” We in essence emptied our social politic of its core in Jesus Christ for a politics buttressed by the temporary structures of modernity.”
The End of Evangelicalism by David Fitch

Why this is important: The foundation of evangelicalism is based on what it is against rather than what it is for. And when this happens, no matter the context, weaknesses, shortcomings, and an incompleteness eventually makes its rise to the public face. So I ask: How does one tread the line between choosing to abandon the structurally ideologically unsound for the hopes of something not as blindly reactionary, or reconciling and renewing it as one would a wounded family member who has a history of subtle, hidden abuse?

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“Deconstruction glorifies ‘the never to be reached’ and sucks us into a ‘bad infinity.’
The End of Evangelicalism by David Fitch

Why this is important: The past seven months of my life have been about the deconstruction and reconstruction of my own faith; however, the process has been terribly lopsided with the former taking up the majority of my thoughts. It wasn’t until I read this that I felt inspired to more intentionally pursue the reconstructive process with a fervor not unalike my first coming to faith. Deconstruction left me haughty. And so I am humbled.

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“The final response was simply that I was sliding away from the ‘message’ of the Bible.  I then asked the minister with whom I was speaking whether he took the Bible to be clear about how social issues are meant to be addressed and his answer was an uncompromising ‘yes.’  I then commented that apparently a very specific view of biblical hermeneutics (also not explicitly recognized in our communal statements) was somehow being included in the ‘essentials’ Now, though I substantively disagree with the pastor, in no way do I mean to say that the position held by this pastor of Church X is necessarily irrational, unthoughtful, or even wrong.  Rather, my concern is, again, one of hermeneutics.”
 – “We Are Still Them: Non-Denominationalism and the Hermeneutics of Silence” by J. Aaron Simmons

Why this is important: An ingenious piece, Simmons critiques his church and simultaneously advocates the need to stay present with that in which you disagree. I can’t nearly talk about all I’d like for this article, but if the keywords “hermeneutics of suspicion,” “political theology,” and “evangelical” are of any interest to you, please give this writing a bit of your time. Moreover, Simmons is such an encouragement to those who want to fully participate in church leadership, but feel different or at odds with the collective thought. And he’s only in his early thirties. Splendid.

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“None of you will go to America. None of you will work in supermarkets. None of you will do anything, except live the life that has already been set out for you. You will become adults, but only briefly. Before you are old, before you are even middle aged, you will start to donate your vital organs. And sometime around your third or fourth donation, your short life will be completed… You have to know who you are, and what you are. It’s the only way to lead decent lives.”
Never Let Me Go (Film) directed by Mark Romanek

Why I love this: Don’t worry, I haven’t given away any secrets of the story. I’ve simply quoted the beginning of it. A harrowing tale that evoked more tears than I’d shed all year, I found myself quietly saying, “no, no, no, please no…” while only minutes prior smiling with delight along with every character on screen. I’ve since bought the soundtrack and listen to it daily. Such beauty will be hard to replicate in any near-future films I see.

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“Traditional Christian sexual ethics is not only inadequate in that it fails to reflect God’s reign of justice and love which Jesus died announcing, but its legalistic, apologetic approach is also incompatible with central Judaic and Christian affirmations of creation, life, and an incarnate messiah. Because the Christian sexual tradition has diverged from this its life-affirming source, it has become responsible for innumerable deaths, the stunting of souls, the destruction of relationships, and the distortion of human communities. The Christian sexual tradition uses scripture and theological tradition as supports for a code of behavior which developed out of mistaken, pre-scientific understandings of human anatomy, physiology, and reproduction, as well as out of now abandoned and discredited models of the human person and human relationships,. The churches are still today teaching theological conclusions originally based in ignorance of women’s genetic contribution to offspring, ignorance of the processes of gender identity and of sexual orientation, and of the difference between them, and ignorance of the learned basis of most gender differences—ignorance which has allowed and supported patriarchy, misogyny, and heterosexism, the assumption that heterosexuality is normative.”
Body, Sex, and Pleasure by Christine Gudorf

Why this is important: I think she speaks clearly enough for herself. What I appreciated about this book was that it went straight to the origin of why traditional Christianity believes what it does about sexual ethics, instead of trying to refute the matter with solely modern-day sensibilities. In other words, she critiqued the foundation of what frustrated her instead of trying to argue about it with knowledge contextualized within a vacuum.

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“If there is a single most important characteristic which distinguished Jesus from the established groups of his own time, it was his inclusiveness. He did not exclude sinners from his company or his concern, as did the Pharisees, whose very name meant “separate ones.” Neither did he exclude the physically imperfect, as did the Essenes, or the poor and needy, as did the wealthy Sadducees. His vision of the reign of God was broader than the narrow nationalism of the zealots; it included much more than expelling the Romans and reforming the Temple elites. It included reforming the entire society from the bottom up, toward inclusive care. Jesus did not exclude, but rather championed women and children, who were defenseless property in his society. He did not despise the crippled and sick, shunned as possessed and unclean by public opinion, but he touched and healed them. Even prostitutes and tax collectors, viewed as the most serious of sinners, were welcome at his table. For Jesus, nothing was so grievous a sin against his Father’s love as exclusion.”
Body, Sex, and Pleasure by Christine Gudorf

Why this is important: This is the Kingdom at hand! This is the gospel! Inclusion! Discerning how to live out the Christian life often becomes convoluted and disparaging because of poor hermeneutical practices and misinterpretations, but it’s when words like this are spoken that gets me excited for the rich tradition I have chosen to participate in. And to the majority of my readers, that being privileged, middle-upper class Americans – never have we been in such a great place to practice inclusion than right now in the midst of great economic disparity.

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“In order to maintain a fuller understanding of Jesus, we need to hold together in a dialectical tension the concept of the victorious Christ, who is able to vanquish evil, with the concept of the healing Christ, who is able to make all things new. It is important to balance these two concepts because an overemphasis on one or the other leads to a misunderstanding of who Jesus is for us. On the one hand, an emphasis on the victorious Christ tends to lead our theology towards an overly triumphant and domineering God who has little space for our frailty and humanity. On the other hand, an emphasis on the healing Christ tends to lead us toward an assumption that love and healing is equivalent to blind acceptance and inclusion of all people, regardless of sin or what one of my friends calls “holiness issues.” Instead, we need a more robust middle way that combines the warrior and the healer in our understanding of the hero.”
– “Hobbits, Heroes, and Football” by Chelle Stearns

Why this is important: Here, Stearns confronts the ever-present debate of Jesus vs. Paul and how we have interpreted and given weight to the messages found in both the gospels and epistles. But she does so beautifully by demanding we find our resting place in the middle, not leaning too far to each side. Furthermore, she implicitly states that one does not have to accept universalism if they whole-heartedly believe the overarching message of Scripture is that of love, restoration, and inclusion. That’s a good reminder.

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~ by Chris Kyle on January 2, 2012.

3 Responses to “main titles”

  1. Hey Chris,
    Thank you for taking the time to read my recent article on postmodern Evangelical ecclesiology and the unanounced hermeutic structures that often accompany it. I appreciate your positive feedback and wish you the best on your new job.
    Aaron Simmons

  2. Super great brother. You’re a reading machine. Gets me excited to try and get my hands on some of those books…after I get done with the ones I’m reading now…SIGH.

    I loved the “End of Evangelicalism” quotes. BOOM!

  3. you are brilliant, my love. it is a joy to know you.

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