Posted by: jadanzzy | November 1, 2007

Faith Against The Machine

I hope to be as clear and concise as possible while maintaining a nonthreatening length in this entry. I do want to inform the readers, however, that I won’t be able to touch upon all the sides regarding the behemoth that is Christendom, or even modernity.

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I heard a phrase given by a pastor this weekend as I worshipped on a rooftop deck of a loft in westside Atlanta. He remarked about how Christians shouldn’t react in aggression and fear at the impending doom of post-Christian secularism. Instead, he said how this was a most exciting time. That it is time for us to take up new arms: hope, grace, humility, sacrifice, and love.

I don’t know where to start… My emotions run strong when I think about how the love-strong faith of Jesus Christ has been mutilated by the current governmental powers in this country for purposes of belligerence, greed, power, and ideological subjugation. Historically, this is frustratingly ironic given that the founding fathers of this nation formed this country to escape the similar manifestations of power that plagued the countries whence they came: Christendom.

I’ll describe Christendom as this: the pervasive, and thus common, mode of operation in the name of Christianity within a whole society as is intentionally, and unintentionally, espoused through politics, “big” religion, business, culture, etc.

Not too long ago, in America, one was assumed to be raised in a Christian (to varying degrees) home. One was also assumed to believe in God or in “god” related to western Christianity. And thus, Christianity was the household mantelpiece set in many sorts of homes across this nation. In our bills, we trust God. In our court systems, we swear by Scripture. In our classrooms, we pledge under God. In our environment, we subdue as we please. In our churches, our crosses are adorned by flashy lights. And as the bastard child, God becomes the coat of arms emblazoned on our shields in politico-cultural battle against all who oppose this God-anointed country.

Pardon my very general description of Christian America and allow me to abruptly make my point. If Christendom is crumbling in our culture, if modernity is losing its foothold in our theology, and as a result, secularism (and its sister atheism) is on an amazingly sharp rise (as anakainosis talked about), then glory to God. For the first time in our lives, the new generation of Christ-followers, Christians, those living in the way of Jesus, Jesus lovers, Jesus people, whatever, can now live a radically powerful Christian gospel that, and I say this cautiously, just may allow a more faithful understanding and re-imagining of the context in Scripture as lived out by Jesus and his disciples. This is an exciting time. Christendom has left a horribly foul taste in disillusioned Christians (liberal and conservative, or in sum, modern) and most notably, the secular community. Now is the new page, or chapter, where Christians can recapture the beauty and restorative power of Jesus Christ in an antagonistically anti-faith (see France) world. No fear. No backlash. No war. Just hope, grace, humility, sacrifice, and love. to all peoples.

I want to continue and talk about the related cousin to this topic, postmodernism. But I will stop.

Grace and peace.

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Responses

  1. God has to be the most misunderstood being. as much as we hate being misunderstood by other people… the level to which God is misunderstood is .. ridiculous. and we get all riled up about him being misunderstood.
    But it always seemed Jesus was never all that angry that the pharisees just couldn’t understand what he actually meant. Instead, Jesus just kept on doing stuff and feeding them lines that, a lot of times, got them even more confused and riled up. what’s up with that?
    when i think about it…He was never frustrated for being misunderstood. just wanted to challenge and love the religious right of his day. yes, the religious right need some love too (though that love looks different from loving those who are sick and needy)

  2. I would propose that the religious right are sick and needy. I would even propose that they are the Pharisees of our time.

    But I thought Jesus did get angry, even amidst his jabbing them with statements they had no clue how to deal with. He called them snakes. He was diametrically opposed to their cause.

    However, I grapple with the statement Jesus said about whoever preaches in his name is doing the work of the Kingdom. Is that a cryptic message? or am I to take that face value?

  3. I think it’s important to differentiate between welcoming the challenge of a culture that is stripping down the notions of “Christiandom” and approving the presence of that culture altogether. I too am not put off by the decline in Old Christianity but I believe new metrics must motivate us into the next generation of faith.

    How many “true” Christians have there been in churches in the first place? Even during the last few decades, what’s the percentage of “real” Christians anyway?

    I guess my point is, yes, there’s been a public shell of “Christendom”, and the decline of that public shell is a positive thing. But I’ve always thought that the “true” Christians who profess faith that is centrally Christian and not Americanized Christian-ish were a small population. We’ve ALWAYS been fighting an uphill battle in this country. Right?

    I agree that Christians becoming disillusioned with that outer shell is a positive thing; it will lead people to a place where they can be more open to new ways of thinking about Christianity. But I don’t think the increase of atheism is positive, because atheism doesn’t engage into a post-modern conversation. It is not deism, nor agnosticism, nor anything spiritual at all. It is this utterly faithless movement that Weigel warns us can spur the total annihilation of a moral, cultural, and humane core set of values.

    Finally, I concur that the weapons to fight this battle are love, compassion, and a walk in the path of the Cross. But I believe that they are still in fact weapons, and that there are still in fact battles to be won.

  4. i remember listening to an interview of darlene zsech and she made a very simple statement that gets to what we’re talking about here. she said christianity is “catching” on in australia bc australia was never this “christian” nation and australians are just concerned with, “does it work?” if it does then they’re game. and apparently Jesus as the “it” is still new enough for Him to be taken at face value.

    it is no wonder that christianity is doing “well” in places where christianity is somewhat new and/or hasnt had a chance to become this vague institution that is mockable and readily misunderstandable.

    but i echo anak’s observation about the “true” Christians who perceived themselves as such.

    one paradox of christianity is that while we want everyone to be christian we also dont “want” (or expect) the world to be christian bc by nature christianity is supposed to be the narrow road.

    what the heck?

    and the whole being in the world but not of the world principle is the hang up. bc people get stuck on how much to be or not to be “in”.

    i think the “in” and “of” blurs really easily.

    and also. i agree atheism is not positive. but honestly, i do not fear it at all. it’s doomed by its own nature.


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