From the excellent Faith & Leadership blog.
If our cultural work is going to be restorative —if it is going to put the world to rights — then we need imaginations that have been shaped by a vision for how things ought to be. Our innovation and invention and creativity will need to be bathed in an eschatological vision of what the world is made for, what it’s called to be — what the prophets often described as shalom. Innovation for justice and shalom requires that we be regularly immersed in the story of God reconciling all things to himself.
That immersion happens most powerfully in worship — in intentional, historic, liturgical forms that “carry” the Christian story in ways that sink into our bones and become part of us. This is why the unfettered, undisciplined “reinvention” of the church actually undercuts our ability to carry out innovative, restorative culture making. The story cannot shape us, cannot become part of us, in a church that is constantly reinventing itself.
I’ve been thinking about the tension between innovation and tradition lately. Over the past year, as I wrote about the Jesus Movement, it became really clear that the participants in that movement thought that the future of Christendom lay in constant innovation that, and this is the difficult but crucial part, hearkened back to the first century church.
How do you have rock music that leads people towards God? Is it a matter of simply having ‘sanctified’ lyrics? What about other areas of popular culture? What about politics? How do we have a just society when we anticipate the end of the world will happen any minute? These were some of the questions I saw some of the people I studied wrestle with over the course of the movement. If anything, the arguments over these issues have gotten more heated since the 1970s.