A while back Doug Wilson posted some great thoughts on Jamie Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom.
His thesis, on paper, seems great. Worship shapes desire, and we should measure our success in the church and in the academy by how well we do in forming particular kinds of people — people who love Christ and one another. Education is about formation, not information. All this is great.
But the problem is:
In short, Smith wants worship to shape and form folks, but the formation he has in view involves disparagement of free markets, accepting the Word from feminine mouths and the sacraments from feminine hands, and sniffing at believing efforts to beat back the sodomization of America, then whatever kind of worship service he wants, we should not want it. If that is what is cooking, why should we want to eat?
In case you were curious, a footnote cites a troubling example of this “transformationist” approach as embodied by Patrick Henry College. I use the word embodied deliberately. The folks at PHC actually want to make a real difference, and Smith finds this troubling and triumphalist. It seems that some Christians have gone out on the football field, and have allowed themselves to begin to entertain notions of actually winning sometime. This is despite the efforts of the Calvin College cheerleading squad there on the sidelines. “Fight, fight, fight!” (clap) “But don’t you dare win!” (repeat)
He concluded with this thought:
Smith is right about the centrality of worship. But if it is “triumphalist” to want to change the world, why should we care about changing our worship at all? We have anemic worship now. We are successful at not changing anything now. Why go through a lot of fuss and bother to develop a form of worship that will also not change anything?
You should read the whole post here.
A while back, Jamie Smith posted some great thoughts on Peter Leithart and the Trinity Institute.
“Would that a generation of pastors might emerge trained under his tutelage–which, of course, is just my hope for the Trinity Institute.”
Also, the title of this one is baffling. Are you saying that Wilson is sexy because he revolts against Smith? Or, in quoting Wilson, are you talking “like a revolutionary,” and are thus claiming yourself to be sexy?
I think I’ll be sexy, too. I revolt against the unclear title of this blog post.
Sorry to be unclear, Joshua, but I meant to refer to Jamie Smith’s own rhetoric. As Wilson notes, Smith offers some great insights, great suggestions about the way worship might transform people/culture but then he pulls his punches in the end, and seems to indicate that he’s actually not that excited about really seeing the world transformed into the image of Christ. Hope that helps.