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December 11, 2009

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brad evans

What a hypocrite! Lutherans are still "tied to empire", still state churches, still getting people's tax money and government support all over Europe. The only thing that's changed is that you've stopped preaching in support of the Kaiser and become something like pseudo-revolutionaries in drag, half Che Guevara, half social worker. Meanwhile, by 2050, the ELCA will have exactly ONE member, Wisconsin and Missouri will have become overdressed Baptists and most of the lutheran churches in Europe will be either museums or mosques. The fastest growing segment of American religion is "none of the above"; the only thing "emergent" about Mainline Protestantism's latest attempt to re-brand itself and so stave off further irrelevance is its ghost from its shrunken body.

Chris Enstad

Brad,
I'm unclear as to how this review is hypocritical. Did you read Cox's book and find my sense of it wrong? I nowhere defended the status of the mainline denominations nor did I explicitly put a plug in for the "emerging church" at least as it is branded in the U.S. Cox's point is precisely about the "none of the above" folks.

By the way, the broad strokes you use to paint all of the people you slander in your post is way off the mark. Read the book and let me know if you think I missed something. "Lutherans" doesn't mean *this* Lutheran. The ELCA doesn't need to survive for their to be a spiritual faith at existence in the world. I am not defending nor attacking the mainline church but I think Cox's point should at least be debated rather than attacks like yours being made.

Greg Gorham

I very much enjoyed Cox's book as well! I definitely agreed with his thesis and the overall thrust of the book, although I had two big issues with the way he got there.

It seemed like he put a lot of weight on a fairly controversial dating of the Gospel of Thomas. And he didn't really interact with people like NT Wright, who would disagree with his early dating, just kept saying that the majority of scholars date it mid-first century. He also seemed to take a low opinion of folks like Ireneaus, who heavily disputed the integrity of the gnostic gospels, basically casting him as a power-hungry man trying to solidify his control over the church. Which for all I know could be true, but it seems like any charitable analysis should really require more evidence to support a broad character judgment like that. I think his larger point was valid, but it seems like he could have gotten there with the Didache, or other non-gnostic sources like I Clement, or historical analysis of how rapidly Christianity seemed to change and evolve in those early years. I don't understand why he basically staked his whole argument on a disputed dating of the Gospel of Thomas and attacks on early saints like Ireneaus.

I also wish he would have interacted more with those who insist that liberation theology tends to be an ivory tower, academic discipline in 3rd world countries, rather than something with broad traction across the whole population. I give him the benefit of the doubt on this, but I've heard so many people dismiss the liberation theology movement in those countries as something for the academics and not for the general populace, it would have been nice to get his thoughts on that critique.

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