Author Topic: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"  (Read 1744 times)

Steverem

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Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« on: February 27, 2014, 10:35:20 AM »
Here's a thought-provoking article from the eminently readable Rod Dreher.  Although it is superficially about the matter of same-sex marriage and how the church is responding to it, there is a deeper theme about the "emotivism" that is prevalent in churches of all traditions, and the need to train our younger members in a more systemic theology.  Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on it.

LCMS87

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 11:39:15 AM »
Lots of truth there.

 A few years ago I realized just how central a role emotion plays for many today as the foundation for what they believe to be true.  The fact that my daughter was a teenager at the time may or may not have been the two by four upside the head that got that reality through to me.  I've come to summarize this change by referencing Descartes' "I think, therefore I am," and asserting that for much of American society today that needs to be updated to, "I feel, therefore I am." 

This, of course, has enormous implications for any apologetic.  Try reasoning with someone who says, "But I feel . . ."  The response, "No you don't," won't get you very far. 

Jim Butler

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 12:50:56 PM »
The problem of emotivism in Evangelical churches has been documented for some time. I first came across it in David Wells' wonderful book "No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?" In it he notes that there has been a serious doctrinal decline within Evangelical churches, especially as the "seeker service" model grew. Interestingly, Willow Creek began to recognize the doctrinal weakness of their model as well.

The issue, of course, is where that is for us. I don't think Lutherans over do the emotive side of things. Sometimes we might be a bit too intellectual. At any rate, the money quote for me was, "When you have membership with no theological or doctrinal depth that you have neglected to equip with the tools to wrestle with hard issues, the moment ickiness no longer rings true with young believers, their faith is destroyed." We need doctrinal depth in our Sunday Schools, confirmations, and youth ministries.

--

Lutherman,

I know what you mean by people overusing the term "I feel..." I've dealt with it by thanking them for sharing where they are coming from. I can't argue that is where they are coming from, I can only share with the a different viewpoint. However, I am careful to point out to them that what they are expressing is not a feeling (happy, sad, angry, etc.) but an opinion. One cannot feel opinions. One can only think opinions. There is a difference. (Pity my poor online student who put in a paper that s/he "felt" an opinion! It wasn't pretty.)
The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

Dave Likeness

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 01:01:19 PM »
Lutheran parishes need to have a pastor who
is a theologian-in-residence.   We need pastors
who are preparing Bible classes which provide
Scriptural depth to those who attend.   Our youth
confirmation classes need to be taught by the
pastor and not given to some excited layman
who "knows all about youth".  Unfortunately,
too many pastors do not put in the personal
time to study Scriptures in depth.

John Mundinger

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 02:17:25 PM »
Lutheran parishes need to have a pastor who
is a theologian-in-residence.   We need pastors
who are preparing Bible classes which provide
Scriptural depth to those who attend.   Our youth
confirmation classes need to be taught by the
pastor and not given to some excited layman
who "knows all about youth".  Unfortunately,
too many pastors do not put in the personal
time to study Scriptures in depth.

I tend to agree with that.  But, just exactly what do consider that theology to be?  It seems to me that a lot emotivism and "anti-ickiness" has crept into Lutheran theology over the past few decades and, in the process, Lutherans have tended to embrace a measure of theology that does not connect very well with the Catechisms.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Norman Teigen

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 03:11:36 PM »
Thanks for posting this.  I printed it out for study.
Norman Teigen

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 04:52:28 PM »
Lutheran parishes need to have a pastor who
is a theologian-in-residence.   We need pastors
who are preparing Bible classes which provide
Scriptural depth to those who attend.   Our youth
confirmation classes need to be taught by the
pastor and not given to some excited layman
who "knows all about youth".  Unfortunately,
too many pastors do not put in the personal
time to study Scriptures in depth.

I tend to agree with that.  But, just exactly what do consider that theology to be?  It seems to me that a lot emotivism and "anti-ickiness" has crept into Lutheran theology over the past few decades and, in the process, Lutherans have tended to embrace a measure of theology that does not connect very well with the Catechisms.


I'd go farther and suggest that Lutherans tended to embrace a measure of (academic) theology that does not connect very well with real life. Is not that part of the reason for some of the lay revivals in Scandinavia in rebellion against the static theology of the State Church? Real life has emotions and feelings. People who are willing to share their real experiences with God (as they understand them) are filled with emotion.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

pearson

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 06:24:10 PM »

I know what you mean by people overusing the term "I feel..." I've dealt with it by thanking them for sharing where they are coming from. I can't argue that is where they are coming from, I can only share with the a different viewpoint. However, I am careful to point out to them that what they are expressing is not a feeling (happy, sad, angry, etc.) but an opinion. One cannot feel opinions. One can only think opinions. There is a difference. (Pity my poor online student who put in a paper that s/he "felt" an opinion! It wasn't pretty.)


My experience with university students is somewhat different, Pr. Butler.  With very few exceptions, their feelings fuel their opinions, and their opinions fuel their feelings; when students talk, I can no longer tell the difference.  These days, as far as I can tell, opinions are little more than linguistically-crafted feelings.  So I advise my students that, if they want people to take them seriously, they need to bracket [not eliminate, but bracket] their feelings and opinions, and formulate logically objective arguments as best they can.  Ever since we made the distinction between a private realm and a public realm as sacrosanct in this culture as the distinction between Law and Gospel, all rational convictions have been relegated to the private realm, not to be asserted in public as if they were actual truth, but reduced to an "emotiopinion" porridge.  Talk about icky.

I was going to say, don't get me started on this subject, but it looks like it's too late.

Tom Pearson

LCMS87

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 06:44:54 PM »
I glad you started, Dr. Pearson.

Though my call doesn't put me in contact with as many folks in that age group as your vocation, what you say is very much what I've experienced as well.  Unfortunately, bracketing feelings and opinions isn't expected in many places in our society, which makes rational debate rather unusual.  Inability to distinguish between feelings/opinions and objective reality often means that disagreeing with an individual is taken as a personal insult that shuts down debate rather than a rational challenge to be met with clear reason.

John Mundinger

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 08:35:17 AM »
My experience with university students is somewhat different, Pr. Butler.  With very few exceptions, their feelings fuel their opinions, and their opinions fuel their feelings; when students talk, I can no longer tell the difference.  These days, as far as I can tell, opinions are little more than linguistically-crafted feelings.

In this regard, are college students really all that different from their elders?
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Terry W Culler

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 09:40:46 AM »
Feelings are much better than facts--they need no research and you can't be held accountable if you're proven wrong
Trying to be retired but failing

D. Engebretson

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Re: Thoughts from an "Ex-Evangelical, Pro-SSM Millennial"
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2014, 09:44:25 AM »
I glad you started, Dr. Pearson.

Though my call doesn't put me in contact with as many folks in that age group as your vocation, what you say is very much what I've experienced as well.  Unfortunately, bracketing feelings and opinions isn't expected in many places in our society, which makes rational debate rather unusual.  Inability to distinguish between feelings/opinions and objective reality often means that disagreeing with an individual is taken as a personal insult that shuts down debate rather than a rational challenge to be met with clear reason.

In many ways our media trains us to use emotions as the fuel for making decisions.  In both advertising and politics, to name but two, rational debate often gives way to sound bytes and emotionally charged images and slogans.  No wonder people have little patience for rational discussion even in theology.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI