Taking the bottom-up strategy of cultural impact too far

22 Aug

From James Smith,

A generation of younger evangelicals are still reeling from the misguided triumphalism of a generation past. Having watched their parents confidently seek to “transform” culture, only to see some of them end up as evangelistic shills for crony capitalism and worse, we can understand the rising generation’s humility and tentativeness. These younger evangelicals are more concerned with being faithful than triumphant. And that is something to be applauded.

But one could also worry that we’re confusing humility with retreat. Eschewing triumphalism shouldn’t be confused with abandoning aspirations for large-scale systemic change.

This all came to mind (again) as I was reading Brandon Rhodes’ beautifully written essay, “A Long Obedience in the Same Downtown.” Profiling Zoe Livable Church in downtown Tacoma, Rhodes celebrates a church that is seeking “the common good of a neighborhood already seeking a similar future.” So it was less a matter of “benevolent condescension,” whereby Zoe would come and “save the city;” it was a matter of listening and joining “what God was already up to.” They traded big and fast for small and slow. Indeed, the emerging theme is one of “slow” activism whose expectations are scaled down from the grand (indeed, federal) schemes of “cultural transformation” that captivated a prior generation.

Here’s the rest of the article

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