In May 2010 Charisma Magazine asked me to write this op-ed. Five years later I feel it’s perhaps even more relevant. What do you think?
END OF THE LINE
By Brian Zahnd
Western Christianity is at a critical juncture. Those who care deeply about the church are aware of this. Things are not as they once were. Things are changing. Dramatically so. Even if we don’t understand what is happening, we can certainly feel it. There is an uneasy feeling throughout evangelicalism that everything is changing. Long-held certitudes are being challenged from both within and without the Christian faith. The way things were even ten years ago is no longer the way things are today. It’s easy to be disconcerted by it all.
In the midst of pronounced uncertainty it is tempting to succumb to nostalgia and pine away for some point in the past that we identify as the “glory days.” But we cannot go back. The healthy practice of recognizing the contributions of the past and building upon them is not the same thing as a regressive attempt to return to a bygone era. This is the problem with revivalism. Too often it is a naive attempt to recapture a particular past. It’s like a Renaissance fair — nice entertainment for a Saturday afternoon but you can’t live there. An idealized memory of the past is not a vision which can carry us into the future. Nostalgic reminiscing about the past is for those who no longer have the courage to creatively engage with contemporary challenges and opportunities. All of this is related to the critical juncture we have come to in the course of Western Christianity.