Episode 72: Percolating on Faith – The Three Eras

Join Carla as she speaks with Tony and Charmaine Chvala-Smith, discussing the different “eras” of the church, namely Joseph-centered, Church-centered, and then into Christ-centered.

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  1. RodDowning

    I’m not sure what I clicked on that I stumbled across this, but appreciated the well-grounded historical insights and anecdotes! As someone born in 1953 and brought up in the RLDS/CofC church in Canada, I was {immersed in / impacted by} that 3rd transition, and almost left the church in some ways because it was occurring so slowly. But to broaden the framing a little, I found it a little odd that the 3rd era is called “Christ-centered”.

    Listening to the podcast I appreciated the anecdote (about 37 min. into podcast) of the 1967-ish meeting of the Standing Council with 3 theologians and W.W. Smith’s statement, upon which “Christ-centered” was inferred to become the 3rd era’s title. fair enough. However, in my experience it was the church moving into India that forced the transition, along with (I agree) our leadership being shaped by, eg, historical-critical methods, etc.

    To me a better designation would be “world-centered.” I felt we were always Christ-centered in some way, it was just the interpretation varied widely over the eras. To me, the 1970s & 1980s would be to me the least “Christ-centered” as we explored more liberal views (resulting in more pronounced fissures). I embraced that, at least until I found it containing a “loose liberal” self-serving whiff to it and found the traumatic confrontation (personally) of liberation theology to be a {still} desperately needed balancing voice.

    A final thought for the mix. If we are now “Christ-centered”, I look forward to a 4th era: “God-grounded, life-focused”. Part of this is to reinforce that words-as-symbols can mean whatever we choose (but nonetheless these shifts name something real). And part is to indicate that I appreciate the efforts by all (fortunately, well beyond my own bumbling ways) to hear and incarnate more clearly the call to the shalom or well-being of all.