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The Velvet Revolution of Christianity

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Building from last week’s titillating discussion of Religion and Politics, I would like to continue with some thoughts from the former president of the Czech Republic, Valclav Havel. He became a leading figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the bloodless end to communism in Czechoslovakia. Many similarities can be found from Havel’s circumstances in Czechoslovakia in the 1980’s to our present political situation in America. Here is an excerpt from his essay, “Power of the Powerless”:

“The original and most important sphere of activity, one that predetermines all the others, is simply an attempt to create and support the independent life of society as an articulated expression of living within the truth. In other words, serving truth consistently, purposefully, and articulately, and organizing this service. This is only natural, after all: if living within the truth is an elementary starting point for every attempt made by people to oppose the alienating pressure of the system, if it is the only meaningful basis of any independent act of political import, and if, ultimately, it is also the most intrinsic existential source of the "dissident" attitude, then it is difficult to imagine that even manifest "dissent" could have any other basis than the service of truth, the truthful life, and the attempt to make room for the genuine aims of life.”

Havel and his colleagues were not dissidents just because they thought it was a novel idea at the time. In the pursuit of truth, they were thrown into dissent by a personal sense of responsibility. “You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.”

What similarities do you notice with Havel’s circumstances in totalitarian Czechoslovakia and our current political scene in America? I think Havel’s tale of the green grocer and my neighbors that proudly display their Obama or McCain posters have a lot in common.

Do you notice any similarities with the Velvet Revolution and the rise of Emergent Christianity?

I think this discussion comes full circle back to another discussion we had here at this blog over a month ago with our friend Nick. Nick, I hope you’re still following our developments because we love your feedback. I think for the benefit of people like Nick that would rather not be associated with the term “dissident,” we need to be a little more apparent on what we are doing here and why a “Velvet Revolution” is necessary to return popular American Christianity back to the genuine pursuit of truth. If it were true that “the failure of the revolutionary philosophy is ultimate and fatal,” as Nick puts it, then we might as well give up and go back to our obedient conformist ways.

“All revolutions begin with a few people recognizing the lie and beginning in small ways to live the truth in the face of the system.” (Fr. Emmett Jarrett, TSSF)

Many people equate Emergent thought with liberalism. While I don't represent the emergent church, I prefer to think of myself as peace loving capitalistic free thinker.

Hey Ryan, what is your topic of discussion this thursday?

I was going to see how much interest this generated because I do think Havel's writing on what leads a truth-seeker to be a dissident in a totalitarian govt' (or society) is quite amazing but I do have another subject in mind if you guys would rather discuss something else. I'll post that this evening just for fun.

When presented with preterism I was entrenched with the local flood/futurism agenda. I was shaken to the core to realize that my understanding of the Bible had been erroneous for most of my lifetime. However, I was willing to make a paradigm shift to “think outside of the box.”

Upsetting the paradigm is the crux of the issue with preterism in the setting of the church body (visible). It’s not what they are familiar with or have taken upon themselves to investigate.

In reference to Ryan’s use of Valclav Havel's quote above I did not decide one day to be a “troublemaker” at church. I was compelled to investigate my questions and concerns through a personal sense of responsibility.

My investigation has come with a price. I am now in a position of conflict with the existing structure, all as a result of my personal sense of responsibility to do a thing well, i.e. know and understand God’s Word better.

The question remains, "Why does a truth-seeker and a Christian one need to be dissident." Bruce had great points last week, the Bible has little to say about going against the government, but more to say about obeying the government. I think boldness in Christianity should be living as Christ wants us to live, if our government says we can't, then the Christians must go underground just like in China, or in the early church under Domitian.

What application to our current condition can you bring this thursday?

Don't worry Jesse, I know I posted a lot of reading material on there and if you choose to read it you will find that it actually supports Bruce's points from last week, which is why I decided to include it. I'll just share a few brief thoughts for anyone that cares to listen but in the mean time I will post a different topic shortly with less homework.

Excellent post, Ryan. I agree that the essence of any "revolution" is the recognition of truth and the decision to actively "live within" that truth, as Havel puts it. Usually, this truth will be one that has been largely overlooked or forgotten by the establishment. For example, in the 15th century, the Reformation was launched primarily due to Luther's rediscovery of three core truths: sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), and sola scriptura (scripture alone).

How do you see us living within the truth of the gospel, Ryan? I think your second post on this week's "colloquial spiceyness" contains some truths about the gospel that have been largely overlooked by contemporary Christianity. I believe that we learning to once again live within the truth of Christ's present reign in our lives. What are your thoughts on this?

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