What Muscular Christianity is Not
Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 12:20AM
Embryo Parson in Chivalry, Man-glicanism, Muscular Christianity


Unfortunately, Mooneyham's antics have only provided ammo (no pun intended) for Christians who eschew the notion of muscular Christianity altogether.  Here's an example from First Things:

Ignite’s approach to mission is nothing new; it’s just the latest example in the Muscular Christianity movement which dates back to the nineteenth century. And the danger now, as then, is that some Christians are allowing cultural concepts of masculinity to dictate our theology, rather than letting our theology dictate our understanding of gender roles. So it is that we end up glorifying a “warrior” concept of the Christian man—be it as a knight in shining armor (à la Wild at Heart) or the more in-your-face, gun-toting, beer-swilling version of manhood we get from Ignite.

Fortunately, a number of commentators were quick to spot the flaw in the FT author's analysis.  "Ignite's" mindset isnt't an "example" of muscular Christianity but a caricature thereof.  Some excerpts from the combox:

The author has chosen targets that are easy to criticize but I wonder if he would recognize overly feminized Christianity if he saw it. . . .

"From my father: masculinity without ostentation." Marcus Aurelius. . . . 

God said that David was a man after his own heart. How could you have overlooked that in a column on masculine Christianity?

Being masculine doesn't mean being foul-mouthed, obscene, or drunk, but David is as masculine as you can get and a counterexample to your gardener. We live in David's world, not Adam's world before the fall.

Given that David is a man after God's own heart I expect heaven to be a dynamic -- even wild -- place. . . .

Regarding the overall thesis, there's a tension between the warrior and the gardener I think. A book called The Masculine Mandate touched on the garden element early on, as it criticized Eldredge. Both of them missed the point: God made man outside the Garden and placed us in it. And well before the 19th century we were oft-told that we should "manfully" struggle. War language, metaphors, images are in the New Testament just as actual war is in the Old. So there is some sense to be made of that. It could just be "sin" or something, but more likely there is something to make of gardening and guns together. . . .

I think it's worth pointing out that ancient Roman infantry were mostly farmers. The essence of masculinity is probably something like Farmer-who-will-be-a-Warrior-when-he-must.

Or, we might simpy say that God's man is both "meek in hall and useful in battle."

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