February 11, 2015
Keeping Christianity WEIRD
I had the pleasure of sitting in a crowded theatre in Nashville in April 2014 listening to a myriad of Christian speakers presenting in “Ted Talks” format on subjects as far and wide as peach farming, living as a nun, the landscape of the human brain, modern hookup culture and post-civil rights society. One of the talks that affected me most was *Christians as the Prophetic Minority by Russell Moore.
One of the reasons I liked this guy was that he seemed genuinely happy that Christians were no longer the majority in American culture. That struck me as odd, but he said it was great that, for a long time, we have viewed ourselves (for him as an American Christian) as the silent majority. We’ve assumed that being a good Christian was THE NORMAL thing to do. But he said, that’s not true and that we’re all realizing this is NO LONGER (nor has it ever been) THE CASE. He claimed,
There is no place for nominal, cultural Christianity.
I verbally agreed, “Yieeeeeew!” He clarified that sometimes we as the Church are panicking and wringing our hands at our changing, no-longer-Christian-in-appearance culture with a tone of fear in our voices, as if Christianity is being wiped out in America. But what may actually be more true is that the Church is vibrant and growing stronger and marching onward. He said that we as the church ARE NOT LOSING, but we’re healthy and alive and perfectly on-track with where prophecy says we are headed.
Another thing he said that I connected with was that,
The SCANDAL of the Gospel has never been a popular, majority opinion. It was always a word that called the status quo to judgment.
He said that things like the virgin birth and the empty tombs and the miracles of Jesus cannot realistically be received by contemporary people. Those things have always been scandalous to contemporary culture.
When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, his response wasn’t, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” He wanted to put her away quietly. Christianity is speaking a strange and scandalous word into whatever culture it comes into.
Christianity never purposed itself to be the best, socially acceptable, most-comfortable, profitable way to live (like some modern-day prosperity preachers pretend).
When the Gospel is being preached in the Bible, the response is NOT ‘this sounds like a good way to carry traditional Roman values into the future,’ it’s ‘this sounds insane to us.’ OF COURSE IT DOES.
He says that as our culture moves away from Christian values, we definitely need to articulate better, but we can never remove from Christianity the very things “which are the power unto salvation;” not for the sake of being culturally relevant.
As we move into this new order of the Christian minority, the most dangerous thing the Church could do is normalize the Gospel.
I chuckled out a loud, “YEAAAH!”
We recognize that what really transforms people is not just a nice set of values embedded in the culture, but what transforms people is the hearing of a Galilean voice, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The advance of the church is NOT dependant upon a culture of good values or on a particular government but on a promise spoken, “On this rock I build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
Yes, we know it’s strange, but we believe in even stranger things. We believe a dead man is going to show up in the sky on a horse. Let’s keep Christianity weird.
How does this challenge your every day Christian label?
Are we often too concerned with being nice and being socially accepted than we are with standing for Jesus’s counter-cultural truths?
Is there some sort of balance between loving others and serving others in a socially acceptable way and standing up for and speaking truths that we KNOW will offend others? What does that look like?
(*We are not allowed to publish the video of the speech, but this guy gives some notes on the same speech: http://jrforasteros.com/2014/04/30/q2014-russell-moore/ If anyone is interested in watching the video, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the private link.)