WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HUMILITY?
When emerging church leaders think they have
everything "all wrapped up," it’s time to yell, "Time Out!" Putting
everything in a little box is not what the church needs at this
moment in history. Instead, it’s time to sit on the edge of our
seats and listen, look, and learn.
By now, it should be obvious that something big
is happening. Bigger than what we’re doing. Bigger than what we’re
predicting. We can’t see where it’s leading us, but we can certainly
see "We’re not in Kansas anymore". . . .
. . . or in "Christendom."
We recognize this larger-than-life moment when
something"other-than-us" precipitates things, when catalytic events
cause seismic shifts, when outside forces drive history’s "quickenings."
We recognize this colossal revelation when spiritual certainty turns
uncertain, when it spirals out of control, when the spirituality we
supposedly "controlled" now controls us.
We recognize this intrusive Otherness when moving
events race forward at breathless speed, when multiple "tipping
points" tumble headlong into the future, when the cascading rapids
of change catch us by surprise. We recognize it when quixotic events
move evermore quickly, when the rate of change accelerates, when our
"feedback" loops compound their own force.
"So what?" the oblivious say. "Change is always
with us." And true enough. Yet today, the dynamics of change have
changed. Normal "change" has become abnormal, linear change has
become exponential, and expected change has turned unexpected.
In short, we know something big is happening when
reality moves beyond our understanding, when "knowing" is repeatedly
overthrown, when the fabric of faith feels ruptured. We see it when
conventional models of the future become irrelevant, when "event
horizons" lie beyond our ability to predict, when hidden goals seem
like "black holes"—refusing further light.
In other words, we’re rapidly approaching a time
when the church—as we know it—cannot continue. We are arriving at a
moment from which the illusions of the present can never return. We
are facing an "essential strangeness" beyond which this era will
It is the end of something and the beginning of
something totally Other—a transformation or creative mutation of
See! I have set before you a door wide open which
no one is able to shut.1
"Rare and Momentous"
These stark facts are not science fiction. They
are not the pastimes of "end times," where fear and hope struggle
for market supremacy. They are not the sectarian skirmishes of a
"Second Reformation." Nor do they represent "rapture for nerds" or
"grace for geeks."
And, contrary to opinion, these mutations are not
the "latest and greatest" church rages. They are not "official"
renewals, "just right" public policies or the pastor’s favorite
programs. They are not mere "improvements" in the way we "do
church." And, they are not the reworking of the past into the same
For these historic transformations are larger
than our sellout to show-business or our caricature of culture. They
are larger than our accommodation to kids or their morphing of
"cool" into a religion. And, they are larger than the "largest" of
the churches or the latest list of God’s "chosen."
These looming events lie beyond even a "thinking
man’s guide to the future"—newly invented social theories—or the
next academic "think tank."
After all, all such efforts are "deja vu all over
again"2—the continued, dreary rehearsals of Christendom’s
Still, the epochal phenomena that lie beyond us
are not"pie-in-the-sky" stuff. They’re right here—right now. What’s
happening to the church is what we see happening. And, what’s
happening reflects the actual world. Yet, it also reflects the world
as it will be—a world far more real than the present world which,
even now, is "passing away."3
It is "a rare and momentous alignment of forces."4
It is "the glow that suffuses everything here in the dawn of an
expected new day."5
I am . . . He . . . Who is to come.6
The Fault Line of the Future
So, then, what do we see happening that confirms
this Happening? What do we know that confirms this Knowing?
To begin, our "thinking"—or, more to the point,
the way we think—is changing. And—as a result—the way we believe is
changing. That belief, of course, is not a different "Word," it’s a
different understanding of the Word. For spirituality is converting
to new sympathies. Faith is transmuting to new sensitivities. And
this Spirit-birthed age is birthing new spirit!
Consider where we’ve been: We’ve journeyed from
farms, to factories, to "information." The agricultural and
industrial ages were built on people’s backs. And the Information
Age was built on people’s brains—logical and precise.
The future, though, no longer belongs to cold and
calculating brains—the guys who know only "sequence," "literalness,"
and "analysis." It belongs, instead, to creativity, artistry, and
empathy—metaphor, meaning, and emotion—pattern, synthesis, and the
It belongs to those who crave a different
beauty—a postmodern beauty—a virtual (yet more real) beauty.
Today, it is their "thinking" that matters most.
Their yearning marks the fault line between those who get ahead and
those who fall behind—those who win and those who lose—those who
innovate and those who stagnate.
Even church leaders are "thinking" differently.
What was once a "subculture" is now mainstream. What was once
embarrassing is now respectable. What was once powerless is now
empowered. For once again, "spiritual" leaders are allowing a
Sovereign Spirit to speak through their "spirit-filled" spirits.
This new spirituality may reflect Christianity,
but not "Christendom." It may reflect the Hebrews, but not the
Greeks. And, it may reflect the first century, but not the
Such epiphanies already shock "enlightened"
civilization. Yet, the "magic" of technology and the "miracles" of
modern physics will soon overwhelm even common sense. Science and
the supernatural, it seems, are increasingly in cahoots. And we’ve
missed it because we’ve seen only the warm-up act.
When church leaders finally grasp the amazing
implications, the "proof" of ancient Scripture will change
dramatically. No longer will we hide behind the worn out dogmas of
the past—doctrines that are only "believed"and can never be "lived."
New forces—both sensuous and caring—are already
blending the scientific with the senses, technology with touch, and
the Internet with intimacy. And, fearfully, we’ll even reshape life
through genetic manipulation, we’ll remold matter through
nanotechnology, and we’ll recast consciousness through
As if this isn’t supernatural enough, embarrassed
physicists now admit that a miraculous realm exists within this
realm. They confess an "Other World" within this world. And, they
claim a prophetic power within a commonplace power.
Take quantum physics as example: In the odd world
of quantum, things exist in a multitude of states until tipped
toward a definite outcome by our "participation." It’s impossible,
for example, to look at a quantum event without changing it. There’s
an unavoidable bond, in other words, between the observer and the
So we are participants more than spectators. We
are coauthors more than bystanders. Our world is more a "Creating"
than a "Creation." In other words, our "desire reveals design, and
(our) design reveals destiny."7
The quantum world promises we can "make the Holy
Spirit offers He can’t refuse." And Jesus made the same promise.8
A New Empowerment of Faith
This discovery would not have surprised the early
Hebrews. They knew all things exist in the invisible realm before
they appear in the visible realm. That’s the reason Hebrew faith was
the "substance"—or raw material—of which things were made.9
They simply copied the example of God who spoke "of nonexistent
things . . . as if they [already] existed"—"declaring the end and
the result from the beginning."10
It was not unusual, in other words, that under
dry skies, Elijah announces, "There is the sound of abundance of
rain." Nor was it rare when Jesus declared, "I have overcome the
world," when—in reality—His victory became fact when He later died
and rose again.
Of course, the spiritual implications of modern
physics are enormous.11 When our decisions and God’s will
mutually move each other, the role of divine action takes on totally
new meaning. The Church must learn to embolden these understandings
in a new empowerment of faith.
The world of invisible forces is more real than
reality itself. Today, our imagination is being baptized, and our
windows on God’s miraculous presence are reopening. Our "thinking"
is no longer bound to an ancient Greek world. . . .
. . . we are projecting a new world.12
© 2010 Thomas Hohstadt
1. Revelation 3:8, The Amplified Bible.
2. Attributed to Yoggi Berra.
3. I Corinthians 7:31, The Amplified Bible.
4. Steven Johnson, Interface Culture: How New
Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate (New
York: Basic Books, 1997) p. 187.
Moltmann, quoted in Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism:
Shaping Theology In A Postmodern Context (Louisville:
Westminster John Knox Press, 2001) p. 239.
6. Revelation 1:8, The Amplified Bible.
7. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering
the Secret of a Man’s Soul (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers,
2001) p. 48.
8. Matthew 17:20.
9. Hebrews 11:1.
10. Romans 4:17, Isaiah 46:10; The Amplified
11. We include other theories as well—especially
12. William Irwin Thompson, Coming Into Being
(NewYork: St. Martin’s Press, 1996) p. 73.