So, What To Do?: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

You may also like...

25 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    Such a good article, Duane.

    As you all know, I adore my parish. But it’s not big on outreach. We had a convert attend for a while who kept complaining that we didn’t have a soup kitchen (he was thinking burritos) for the homeless people who camp out in the woods surrounding our Church. He called me up to complain. I said: “Yes, it would be very good if our parish did something positive for the people living around us, I agree. But in the meantime, as you pray for this, nothing is stopping you from helping the Salvation Army, just a few blocks away. They have a big kitchen, certified cooks, vans, etc. and offer free meals every day.” Well, he’d rather grumble. <— This is my first tendency as well, to grumble rather than doing what is already available for me to do. So what if our church doesn't pass out burritos in the park? Nothing's stopping us from volunteering for the Salvo Armo (my affectionate term for the Salvation Army) or Meals on Wheels or any of the dozens of charities in town. So Duane, I agree with your post: sure, a church or parish may not be perfect but work with what's there and model what you would like to see.

    -Xenia

  2. Xenia says:

    I think Mr. Grumble want to pass out burritos wrapped in paper stamped with a 3-bar cross.

    If you as me, that’s pride, not concern for hungry. “Look, it is OUR CHURCH that is feeding the homeless! Everyone take notice!”

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    Many thanks… it’s doing what we can, where we are. Moreover, it’s being honest – about our church, our denomination, the general state of things… Change for the good doesn’t take place until we acknowledge our own shortcomings and look for ways to move things forward.

  4. Michael says:

    I think the key going forward for the church is teaching a holistic faith that you live, not attend.
    Good stuff, Duane…

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    Many thanks and, yes, it’s living the life of the church as an individual and corporately…

  6. Rick says:

    Wondrous thoughts, in my view, Duane! I so appreciate that your engagement integrates conversation and invitation, rather than ultimatum. A lost art in today’s culture, secular and church.

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    Rick

    Many thanks! Yes, ultimatums are easy, conversations take work…

  8. Rick says:

    There is much about the Benedict Option I find personally appealing; of greater appeal would be a community that lives in such a way that people at the opposite extremes of issues would figure out how to love each other. Politically liberals and conservatives, egalitarians and complementarians, Calvinists and non-Calvinists,for example, rather than withdrawing from or denying strongly held views could practice generosity toward one another and live together in Christian community.

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Rick

    Believe it or not, that was once the case in many places. I did some of my training at an Episcopal church in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Members of the congregation included Democrats and Republicans – including a former Democratic Governor and a former Republican Lt. Governor. Apart from them, I couldn’t tell you the political leanings of really anyone else… it simply was not discussed! While it was a “centrist” congregation theologically, there were folk on both sides of that line. That sort of place today, would be much harder to find…

  10. Xenia says:

    Duane, I think my parish is like that too. I don’t know what people think about politics (with a few exceptions) because (with that one exception) no one talks about it much.

    I know the people who came from the Soviet Union hate socialism in any form an who blames them.

    I suspect most of them are more politically conservative than I am and I suspect I am socially more conservative than some of them. To be honest, half of them seem more interested in Russian politics than US politics and I can’t really parse the Russian situation very well because I don’t know who to believe.

  11. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I think you represent well the kind of Christianity Duane and I discuss offline.
    You attend on Sunday…but you start every day with the prayers of the Orthodox and your faith is entwined throughout all you do.
    Anglicanism and Catholicism have the same disciplines…and I think those disciplines will be what carries the church forward…

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “Anglicanism and Catholicism have the same disciplines…and I think those disciplines will be what carries the church forward…”

    Only if those disciplines are not forgotten or relegated to “the past’…

  13. Xenia says:

    I was staying with some mega-church type evangelicals last month and these guys don’t even ask the blessing before meals. I asked “why not?” and they looked sheepish and said “yeah, we probably ought to do that.” It’s just not part of that culture anymore.

  14. Josh says:

    “and I think those disciplines will be what carries the church forward…”

    Do you guys foresee a major revival among your traditions, or a huge drop-off in American Christianity (numerically speaking).

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Barring an Act of God, I fear that we are going the way of Western Europe. The denominations are going down at various rates of speed. Evangelicals, in my opinion, will face a reckoning after the Trump years. Additionally, the “boomers” will be gone or in assisted living. I think it will be a totally different landscape.

  16. Jerod says:

    . (Indeed, if it were up to me, I’d remove the American flag from our sanctuaries, revoke the tax-exempt status of our churches and related properties, and have clergy cease to be state functionaries in performing marriages.)   <<<

    Fist bump, bro hug

  17. Rick says:

    Duane, I agree regarding nationalistic symbols and state functions in the church. Historically, I think the church functions best in a prophetic role, and outsider role, rather than as a chaplain role in society.

    I am more optimistic, perhaps, than others regarding what the church will look like in a couple of generations. I think that orthopraxy (even if they are unfamiliar with the word) is more important to the younger generation, at least from what I observe among students that I teach in a secular context. The meanness that accompanies certain doctrinal systems that are authoritarian in nature is less palatable to them than it is to us ‘olders’ who are more tolerant of contradiction between belief and practice, or perhaps are just worn out. I am not confident that numbers will hold, the church may indeed grow much smaller in future generations in America, but I think the church will look and act more like Jesus. That is my belief–I am sticking to it. I think also that future generations will move toward a more liturgical structure, with a purposeful diminishment of pulpit personalities.

    I could be very wrong…but I have hope!

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    Rick

    You give me hope! May your tribe increase…

  19. Arthur Dent says:

    Duane,

    This was v encouraging.
    This is very helpful advice given the turmoil in the North American Anglican world. The latter seems to ring of Martin Thornton, if you’ve read anything by him.

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Arthur,

    To bring Martin Thornton into the discussion is high praise indeed! I’ve been rethinking his remnant theology of late (and his work on spiritual formation). I think both areas have value in our current circumstances…

  21. Dan from Georgia says:

    Kinda tough here in the South finding a good, solid church. Can’t throw a rock without hitting a KJV-only or an IFB church. Very few mainline churches. Many churches here that focus too much on our money (the Prosperity Gospel ones), and just a few too many churches where President Trump exalted a bit more than Jesus. Wife and I are not “shopping” for a church or “church-hopping” BTW. We do have a church home, but it took quite a while to find. And no, our church is far from perfect.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    Dan

    Great that you have a church home… it’s much more difficult these days to find one.

  23. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Duane!

  24. You missed Dreher’s point of outreach and you aren’t all that different from his points there, but where he hopes to inspire by giving several examples you only give your own. It’s a good one: actually practice what we’ve been given.
    I’m a recent Lutheran (2000) and in the NALc so I didn’t grow up with Luther’s catechism but with the Westminster shorter. Compared to that I thought Luther’s was simplistic and ignored it until I took a class and attended a conference this Spring where the catechism was quotes lovingly and the response “what does this mean?” was said in the more urgent German, “Was is das?” So whether you have a criticism or a new technique, the best thing is (as you say) to spread the influence of the gospel person to person.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Beth

    Yes, I originally had other examples, but “word limits” rule on a blog! Appreciate your comment…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.