Bags of Bran

Trueman and Salad Bar Piety
February 16, 2015, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Biography

I really enjoyed this article, where Carl Trueman explores the impulse common among evangelicals to borrow ancient forms as an expression of their love for novelty.


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I do wonder: Is the choice of Lent more than just novelty? It is obviously. What if it is further evidence of evangelicals just mimicking the decadent culture around them?

I grew up around folks who would give up something for Lent, have a group meal on Palm Sunday, and another on Easter. Completely void of religious meaning, mostly done because of family tradition.

I want to be cautious about reading into my experience, but I do wonder.


Comment by Scott Welch


The choice of Lent, as Trueman observes, is an odd one. Evangelicals are not restoring Lent to their own tradition, they are lifting it from traditions for whom it is a meaningful expression of theological and historical values. You can’t borrow values like you can borrow forms, so the theological and historical meaning is simply not there the way it would be for an Anglican, Orthodox, or RC person.

I happen to think that many evangelical leaders have realized that they can’t add any more worldly elements to their services: they already have the entire rock concert experience; their sermons are already TED talks and/or stand up comedy acts; they already show movies. They can’t add smoke machines and light shows: they already have them. Essentially, they’ve come up against a hard stop in their application of the normative principle, and the only thing they could really do to move further in that direction would be to start introducing more overtly sexual or violent elements into their services. They’re not all that far along YET, though some are moving that way already.

So if their normative principle does not allow further innovation down the worldly trajectory (until the world comes out with something new), they will settle for ANCIENT forms to satisfy their sense of novelty. I sincerely believe that for many evangelical leaders, “novel” and “meaningful” are functionally synonymous.


Comment by christopheram

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