The Enlightenment and Evangelicals

Matthew Lee Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy writes:

One of the common complaints against traditional evangelicalism is that it has been held captive by a distinctly Western approach to rationality. The central target of this complaint is the “Enlightenment,” with its emphasis on reason to the detriment of revelation.

This story about the Enlightenment opens up, I think, the possibility of reflecting about new ways in which we might be captive to the Enlightenment. Specifically, I wonder whether we have adopted of a pragmatic notion of rationality where what we think is subordinated to the ends it produces. To use a popular example, we tend to think that the missionary impulse is enough justification to engage in something like online church.

But our imperatives — our missional impulse — must be chastened and directed by the very real indicatives of theology.

…One more potential implication: evangelicals, in our adoption of technology, need to recognize that we are taking the fruit of a sickly tree. The ideology that undergirds technological production in our era is not neutral, but is grounded in an impulse to subordinate the whole world to our whims and wills. Churches should think seriously about being technological refuges, places where we can escape the principality and power that is technocentricism and adopt — if only for a few hours — a different way of being human. That younger evangelicals continue to be drawn toward Rome, Canterbury, and Constantinople is indicative of the fact that we want an alternative to this paradigm, while many churches are unwittingly perpetuating it.


Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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