This morning when I first saw this word, "neo-traditional," I was excited because it came close to describing where I am on my spiritual quest.
Neo = new, and traditional = from the past, or in my case, the beginning. That is, I've been endeavoring to look with new eyes, heart and inquiry into the beginnings of Christianity, and in fact into beginnings of various things. I look to what was and try to see it with as little bias and accumulation of others' ideas as possible. What did "it" mean to the people who were there?What did "it" mean to those who came along later and proceeded to interpret "it" through the lens of their time and place? Who were the sincere and who were the opportunists who added to the conversation about "it"? What could "it" mean to me, to us, today? How has "it" morphed over the years, decades, centuries, millenniums? Can I truly peel away enough layers to approximate the beginning truth?
Take any "it" and delve into those questions, and it is almost certain that this will lead to astounding and new ideas.
It seems to me that we who are Christian need to engage in this process. Only 40% or so in America are in church on Sunday. The church is split into basically two camps: the fundamentalists and the progressives. The fundamentalists turn off those who are not in church with their anti-science teachings - think anti-evolution, anti-gay, total belief in inerrancy and literalism when it comes to the Bible, their rigidity of beliefs, their refusal to take new scholarship into consideration, etc. The fundamentalists hold primary control of Christian television, radio and music. They are the main face of today's Christianity.
The new scholars seeking truth and meaning have not been able to reach many of the unchurched. For one thing, many are so turned off to religion and church that they are either not seeking or are seeking spirituality on their own. On the other hand, most scholars are writing books, maybe making a few speeches, some of which end up on YouTube, but are not seeking followers. Mainstream pastors tip toe into new scholarship, fearing upsetting the congregations that have been raised believing a certain way.
It seems to me. to not only save, but to also allow the Christ message to florish, we must courageously delve into an honest quest for truth and understanding that leads to deep meaning and to the transformation of each of us into beacons of Light shining brightly on the hill of today.