It is difficult to recognize or listen to a prophetic pioneer. Sometimes because he is so near, or because of your fear, or you can’t yet hear, but that is his cross to bear. It is difficult for him to perpetually live ahead of his time, he does so because he listens from the future. He is not understood in the present and most often forgotten in the future after others have caught up to his past. The reward of the prophet is the word that he received. To receive a prophet’s reward is to heed the word that he received.
For the past 10 years (2003-2013) I have observed a changing of the guard among evangelicals. On their terms they have made a sort of pilgrimage to liturgical & sacramental ideas. The Neo-Sacramentalists and Liturgical Historicists are exploring what Dr. Robert Webber called “An Ancient Future Faith.” Dr. Webber was certainly a man ahead of his times when he wrote Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail and was a contributing author of the 1977 Chicago Call.
My own journey began back in 1986 in the upper room of a furniture warehouse. We conducted weekly bible studies with weekly celebration of communion. My journey was further accelerated in 1990 after a discussion with Bishop Robert McAllister of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who talked about the idea of two streams of faith coming together. In 1991 I planted a church with a very modern adaptation of a few liturgical elements (communion and incense). In 1992, Paul Thigpen wrote an article for Ministries Today entitled, Ancient Altars and Pentecostal Fires that became the catalyst for a new vine in the vineyard, the Charismatic Episcopal Church. By 1993, I was fully embodied in what was called the Convergence movement: a blending of three streams of faith (Evangelical, Pentecostal and Sacramental) into one river of God.
I was also given a 15 year head start (1985) to be able to see the landscape of eschatology change among many evangelicals. My eyes were opened to “see the kingdom of God” as being present among us. I must insist that it does require having your eyes opened, because I tried for years to persuade pastors, but to no avail. Once you see it, you can’t believe you couldn’t see it before and now all you can see is “the effects of the wind.” The work of the Holy Spirit in this segment of theology not only revolutionizes your view of the “end times,” but catapults you ahead of time. More than likely your views on Revelation have also been hi-jacked and might I add for the better. I am indebted to my mentor and one of the world’s best Bible teachers, Bishop Malcolm Smith.
The future of the church is Silence. Since 2000 I have enjoyed monthly Solitude and Silence retreats thanks in part to a little book, The Way of the Heart written by Fr Henri Nouwen. For the past two and a half years I have been on a silence and solitude sabbatical…a way of life that may only be described as the life of a modern Desert Father.
I must confess this is not the life that I would have picked out for myself. My conclusion is that I am once again being called to a life ahead of my times. Which leads me to believe that sometime in the near future the evangelical church will find her way into a sacred corridor of silence. Considering where the church is currently at that seems like a fanciful thing to predict, but as I found out a while back I am not alone….take a few moments and listen to this brief interview with Ian Morgan Cron
Knowing that most prophesy is often times lived out before it is spoken out and that I am curiously on a two and a half year solitude & silence sabbatical (2011-2013…) and I have almost always been 10 years ahead of my times..my simple prediction will be that around 2020 the Church will begin its voyage into the seas of solitude & silence.