Let’s Experiment With Our Theology

The solution might look a bit radical!

What is The Echo Life all about?

Written by Tab Miller, Shane DeHaven, and Richard Reams

-The creators of theecholife.com

 Part One

Why The Echo Life? Well, we are not out to change the world, but perhaps on a small scale we are out to change the way we, as American Christians, interact with the world. The way we see it, the American Christian community pays a lot of lip service to our theology, but do our beliefs really express themselves in the way we live our everyday lives? We come up with strategies, have conferences, and blog until our fingers blister, but do we live out what we teach, or are they all just good ideas? If we do live it out, Christian belief looks a good deal like the prevailing American culture. Let’s face it: Christians often do exactly what everyone else in society is doing. That means either that the majority of people in America are Christians and our cultural norms are simply Christian in nature, or that Christians have assimilated into the surrounding culture while forgetting our call to stand out.

Yes, this has been said before, and nothing changes. When many Christians hear such expressions of concern about the church, they simply write them off as the idealistic musings of a younger generation that has not yet faced the reality of dealing with a stubborn, nominal Christian community. These people have allowed frustration to lead them to a loss of imagination and cannot envision a Church culture that actually embodies Christ’s vision of living as a “city built on a hill” set apart from the ways of the world (Matthew 5:14). When challenged by a radical vision of the way things are supposed to be, many respond with what they would consider “realistic” claims to excuse our laxity: “We are to live in the world, just not of the world.” Sure. Certainly we are called to live “in” the world, just not called to be “of” the world, but can we say we are not “of” the world when we are completely dependent on popular consensus regarding our decisions about how we are to live life, to eat, to sleep, to move, to work, to commune, to interact as a family unit? The list goes on?

The domesticated church might lobby against certain ideologies in the political sphere because of our convictions, and this might give some a false sense of comfort that they are not “of” the world. However, Christ did not call us simply to legislate our morals so that our surrounding culture will assimilate. A city upon the hill is not a society of socially engineered morality. That we are called to live differently than the surrounding culture does not become null simply because our vote was outweighed by those around us. We cannot say, “Well, I tried, but I cannot be different if the rest of my society won’t go along.” That is the point of being set apart. The world that will not conform to the good is the backdrop that makes the city on the hill stand out as a light in the darkness. All attempts to hide behind our vote are a mere excuse to feel at ease with living in a culture that is comfortable and easy to inhabit, while avoiding guilt for failing to be more Kingdom oriented.  We might suggest we are not “of” the world, but often in an all but a superficial way, we are. This might seem a bit harsh, but know that we are speaking to ourselves as well as to anyone who might feel convicted. Our own conviction is the reason we started all of this.

So, we ask the question once again: Are we wholly caught up in the pervasive culture around us, or are we committed to our own story as Christian people called out to live set apart lives as a testimony to God and His Kingdom? Remember, if the American Church as is stands truly committed to the latter, then, once again, the Kingdom must look an awful lot like America, Heaven forbid. We are not trying to suggest that the whole of American culture is evil, not at all. But, we are trying to point out that our primary identity should be Christian. If people look at us and first see us as just another of society, we are doing something wrong. We are called to challenge society with our lives. As is, we are not all that recognizable as a contrast to others in our society. Certainly the Kingdom of God is in many ways different than the ways of our present American culture, and it is on these points that people should say, “Wow, what are those Christians up to? Why are they doing things so differently?” That is Christ’s point for calling us to be that city upon a hill. He wants our lives to be a testimony to the Kingdom of God and an alternative, life-giving way of being. Thus, when we ignore this calling as an idealistic and unrealistic calling, we are killing our testimony.

So, how do we correct this disconnect? If the ways of Christ are radically different from the ways of nominal Christianity, then the solution is, more than likely, going to be just as radical. How do we reclaim our radical testimony and live as a set apart community?

We at The Echo Life have an idea: Let’s experiment with our theology. What does this mean? Come back tomorrow for Part Two and find out.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jodi.fallin Jodi Fallin

    Intrigued and excited!

    • Tab

      Thanks, Jodi… Come back tomorrow for the pay off!

  • TJ Miller

    Very excited you you guys! Waiting for…the rest of the story!

    • Tab

      Thanks, man!

  • James Bradley

    This is interesting. Many of us need to be challenged to get out of our comfort zones, experience a little persecution and look a little more “peculiar,” – myself included. I’m not looking for another 4-step program of evangelism. I’ve constantly encouraged my congregation to BE the church 24/7. Somehow, I don’t think sitting on a wooden bench for an hour on Sunday is even close to what Jesus calls us to do – in any generation or on any continent. I am looking forward to the conversations. Blessings.

    • Tab

      Thanks, James! We are with you. We do not want another “program.” Our hope is that this blog will be more than just another voice in the crowd, but a place for persons to gather to spur one another on as they see what it means to live out the faith, to truly “echo” the way of the Kingdom.

  • http://www.mattbrady.net Matt Brady

    I like where you guys are heading with this discussion. I look forward to actually “looking under the hood” of our Christian faith and tinkering around with it!

    • Tab

      Thanks, Matt. Getting our hands dirty a bit will be good for all of us.

  • EchoStaff

    The bug has been fixed!

    In the first few days of any project, there are a few bugs
    that need to be fixed. We experienced some difficulty with our comments
    application and the comments made by several of you will not show. Luckily, we
    still have access to view the comments off site, so we are reposting them here:

    Jodi Fallin:

    “Intrigued and excited!”

    TJ Miller:

    “Very excited for you guys! Waiting for…the rest of
    the story!”

    James Bradley:

    “This is interesting. Many of us need to be challenged
    to get out of our comfort zones, experience a little persecution and look a
    little more “peculiar,” – myself included. I’m not looking for another 4-step
    program of evangelism. I’ve constantly encouraged my congregation to BE the
    church 24/7. Somehow, I don’t think sitting on a wooden bench for an hour on
    Sunday is even close to what Jesus calls us to do – in any generation or on any
    continent. I am looking forward to the conversations. Blessings.”

    Matt Brady:

    “I like where you guys are heading with this
    discussion. I look forward to actually “looking under the hood” of our
    Christian faith and tinkering around with it!”

  • Craig

    Tab, of the 3 of you I know only you personally, but this first blog is very though-provoking to me, and I really appreciate it guys! While I was reading I had the thought, “If every American voted for president in 2012 based on their moral beliefs, would that show up directly related to the number of people who claim to be Christian?” And I truly think not, because so many “Christians” try to interpret what Scripture says instead of actually applying what it says.
    This is just one of the thoughts that this first blog created in my head!
    Love in Christ,
    Craig Sapp

    • EchoStaff

      Experimental/Experiential Theology teaches us about our interpretations. Theology should not be theories, but actions. Thanks for the thoughts, Craig…