On my way to my doctor for an annual physical this morning I got to thinking about this “No Logo” gospel, and that some have commented back that “No Logo” is as much about “branding” as anything, and that the No Logo argument takes on that culture as false.
The gospel of embracing grace, if it is genuinely purple or if it transcends our own denominational stamping, is something like a No Logo Gospel. One of the issues for the Christian world is the fundamental problem that it is far easier to “package” the gospel into small appealing bite-size portions than to let it be what it really is: the summons of our entire person into the majesty of God and into a face-to-face relationship with others, and into a responsibility for our world.
Long ago (20 years I’m guessing), and I think in one of his earliest books, James Davison Hunter (American Evangelicalism with Rutgers Univ Press) argued that evangelicalism in modernity has domesticated the gospel by packaging it into “marketable” chunks or items. It is far easier, so I recall from his book (someone will correct me if I’m erroneous here), to reduce the gospel to a few manageable steps than to present it in all its glory (and challenges). Hunter points out the all-too-typical forms of evangelical piety that, while clearly marketable and do-able, are not those forms taught by Jesus or by Paul or any where else in the NT. This reduction of piety and gospel to marketable items is part of a “Logo Gospel” that the No Logo Gospel wants to eschew.
And, along this line, I’m reading Rowan Williams, When God Happens (more on a later post), where he charts out the intentional humility of the desert fathers and mothers. Here is a movement not unlike the emerging movement that wants to protest the institutionalization of the Church and does so, not by back-stabbing, but by living a radically consistent and ecclesial life of both self-denial and neighborly love. I see enough parallels that my mind spins with ideas when I see the emerging movement and the desert fathers as a similar kind of movement in that desert spirituality was a radical protest against the way “church was being done” and did so by living an alternative ecclesiology. It dreaded power and ideology, and fought for the simplicity and unity that comes from the gospel of embracing grace.
The emerging movement, if nothing else can be said, is looking for a place to stand and it knows that where the current Church is standing is not good enough. So, the emerging movement is searching for an alternative place to stand, not like Descartes who thought he could find a place of certainty in which to stand, but the emerging movement is looking for a place of integrity to stand. A place where it can stand and say to itself with a proper confidence that here, yes right here, is a place of integrity where the gospel can be seen for what it is.
A No Logo Gospel, then, refuses to reduce the gospel so it will sell and it transcends the branding that is another one of its temptations.