Fifty years, ago in my book “The Grass Roots Church”, I agreed with Bonhoeffer that the future for Christianity would be limited to essentially anonymous service to others. Praying and doing right by our fellow human beings.
Little future was seen for American churches
By the end of the 1960s, following a general failure to move main line denominations toward acts of reparation and racial justice, this earlier conclusion was hard to refute. Denominational structures followed the same patterns of polarization and divisiveness that hold sway today.
As predicted, main line churches lost members. The old died. The young drifted away.
I devoted myself to trying to understand Jesus. I had been ordained by the United Presbyterians in 1962 as an evangelist, with carte blanche to devise a form and structure of the church as we moved toward this century.
My life followed this goal.
My conclusion is: We must move to being a post-creedal church. We must lose life in order to find it.
I fleshed out Bonhoeffer’s prescription.
Christianity should assume an anonymous servant form. Through a study of Mark, I concluded Jesus demonstrated four fundamental values in his ministry:
I translated Mark into songs. The Rev. Pam Moffat taught them to some 6000 young persons. These young people grasped Jesus’ iconoclastic nature. They demonstrated the very values I have named:
tolerance and helpfulness to one another.
They were humorous and iconoclastic.
It was a revelation.
But it found no backers.
It was soon forgotten.
During the 1980s I dug deeper.
The churches were built on an unscientific worldview that could not stand over time.
They were allied with the state. They were allied with war.
They were not the bearers of tolerance, or helpfulness or democracy.
If anything, many churches resisted these values and gave first place to institution and creed.
My agreement with Bonhoeffer deepened. But there was a fork in the road. Bonhoeffer practiced violence toward Hitler. I embraced nonviolence in the American civil rights movement.
Now I have come full circle. I feel I am on the same page with Bonhoeffer. We cannot deny that in the face of Hitlerian evil we will not seek to end it. But we must embrace the values I have named and work for a revolution of silence.
Listen to Bonhoeffer on the transition we are undergoing:
“It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious, but liberating and redeeming — as was Jesus’ language; it will shock people and yet overcome them by its power; it will be the language of a new righteousness and truth, proclaiming God’s peace with men and the coming of his kingdom… Till then the Christian cause will be a silent and hidden affair, but there will be those who pray and do right and wait for God’s own time.”
The final stage of my work would wait until this century:
Under the influence of Charles Sanders Peirce, I developed an idea called Triadic Philosophy. It is summarized in the Kindle book Triadic Philosophy 100 Aphorisms . This grew into several more books outlining specific methods of triadic meditation and thinking.
Hopefully, I have made a modest contribution to this process. My effort has spanned five decades and is in outline a blueprint for a world “after Christianity”.
If successful, it could be a world closer to Christianity than ever, a place of peace and justice built on universal values that were indeed here from the foundation, lodged incipiently in the mind of every person on earth.
The notion that a religious institution can hold the new wine of this blueprint is not impossible. Churches may here and there spawn the vision. They may have the resources and time needed to devote to the project.
I shall outline the nuts and bolts in the coming, concluding chapters.
“After Christianity” is the name for the era we have already entered. It does not mean the end of Christianity, but its beginning.
If you are curious about the actual blueprint, here are two texts that begin to make its development clear.
Planning and Designing a Good Future: What to Strive for and What to Avoid Kindle Store http://buff.ly/1KrLfLN
Cybercommunities: A Handbook Kindle Store http://buff.ly/1KrL0QH