John Westerhoff, the godfather of Christian Formation, was our second day keynote speaker. This man is winsome and wise, humble and humorous. He said that a professor is someone who professes what they believe at that moment in order to stimulate people to think for themselves. He said we should take our notes and not his notes, because the notes we take are what we hear, anyway, and not what he says. Even so, my notes were so extensive I think that you will see why it took so long to summarize them!
John began by reminding us that it is important to remember the past in order to envision the future. Revisionist history, as an aside, is the history of history. We ask, “is this something I ought to follow; is it beneficial to my faith?”
Truth, John said, comes when two counter opposites are held in tension, or equilibrium; like the tension between Christ-fully-human and Christ-fully-divine, neither being the whole apart from each other . The whole is seen by us then, when we seek out the people who hold the piece we do not hold; everybody has a piece. Heresy, then, is a truth gone mad, a piece absent the tension.
Historic ages and their transitions
The church has moved through ages, along with the rest of the world; from Apostolic, to the Christendom era, to the Age of Faith (Middle Ages), and the Age of Reason. The Age of Faith had intuition as its guide, and was immersed in the arts. The Age of Reason was a response to the prior in which intellectualism ruled the day.
The key to understanding an age is to understand its transitions. We are in a transitional phase at the end of the Age of Reason, or Modernity. This transition, Post-modernity, began in 1950 and may very well end by 2050.
In every age, something is lost and something is gained. We must ask ourselves how much should we keep and how do we keep it? What is needed in the next age? John posits that we are in an age of great loneliness which can only be countered with intimacy and community. The world has gotten smaller, and at the same time more isolated with the marriage of globalism and technology. Interaction is very different across social realities and “our” reality is not necessarily desired by others anymore. We find ourselves greatly challenged. (more…)