Posted by: jadanzzy | August 4, 2008

Death to Amerianity

If the conversation happens to steer that way, I tell people that one of my greatest hopes is that America becomes less and less Christian faster and faster. I believe it’s the only way to purge ourselves of the banality and the consumerist Christianity we’ve come to feast ourselves on for… how long?

To go even further, it may do Christians well to be able to hear the day when politicians don’t tout their Christian beliefs as a way of garnering votes. I welcome the day when the next president has no faith.

I understand how this could be dangerous for me. The plethora of churches, organizations, resources, etc., that would’ve helped me (or… cause me to puke) would cease to exist as it stands today. I would be faced with new and even stronger moral crises as global markets and/or social progressivism skyrockets. The federal government mandates that marijuana, gay marriage, and abortion is legal by law! Church attendance plummets. The obvious Christian stories become some vague memory of a fairy-tale past created by some aliens called the Puritans. Denominations cease to exist one by one. High Church attendance is laughable. More and more pastors are out of jobs because their seminaries didn’t know how to adjust to the times. Seminaries thus close down one by one due to the lack of funding and shortage of student registrations.

And the gospel of Jesus Christ breathes once again.

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Responses

  1. This bothers me. Aren’t you throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Sure there are cracks along the surface of institutional Christianity that betray deeper, more perverse undercurrents, but the heart of the church is in there, somewhere and I don’t think a complete razing of the church’s presence is the solution.

    Also, to link legalizing marijuana with both abortion and gay marriage seems to me like you’re trivializing the latter two. the campaign to legalize marijuana is a fluff cause– issues like gay marriage and abortion are far more serious considerations.

    There are plenty of problems in the seminaries, but there are plenty of good solid professors reinforcing the true gospel to students who genuinely feel the call to serve God in their capacity as ministers.

    Yes, megachurches are sometimes laughable. The big screens, the flashing lights, the britney-spears mics that the hawaiian-shirt wearing pastor uses irk me too … but in speaking with a number of these megachurch pastors it’s become obvious to me that by and large, they love Jesus and they do all that they do to share Christ with as many people as they can. I can’t, in good conscience, derail them for that.

    As for a president with no faith … I don’t doubt that a president without faith can do a fine job. So I can maybe see your point in that. But criticism of an institution should never be valued over and against the individuals who make it up … The Christian church in America is not a phantom presence, it is a body of people, human people … some rotten, some not… all with personal narratives, hopes, dreams visions, aspirations and .. most importantly, the ability to repent and change and in truth, I’m not willing to give up on them just yet, because they are me.

  2. And that is why I fail when it comes to seeing the humanity of things before seeing the theory of things.

    The hot-button issue list was intentionally haphazard. I don’t mean to trivialize gay marriage or abortion at all. And in fact, I believe America’s (or the federal government’s) battle with marijuana is just absurd.

    I don’t for a second doubt that there are millions (well, maybe not millions) of American Christians who strive for a honest and powerful faith expression, including the seminarians and the megachurch pastors. The only problem that I see personally with that, is that megachurches and their pastors engage in power-mongering. This may not be intentional, but it comes with the territory of commanding such a large group of people. And placing so much power on a single individual apart from Christ is dangerous for the faith.

    Although the Gospel is far more powerful than any ecclesial expression, a megachurch MUST function with a business mentality or it fails. Again–as Peter Griffin says–that really grinds my gears.

    Christianity is a symbol of power in America. Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw reminded me of the Babylonian mentality America has. Babylon was the enemy symbol of the early Christian mindset.

    To reiterate, undoubtedly pastors, seminarians, and many normal Americans express earnest faith, but it’s still safe.

  3. I understand the desire to purge our generation of the commercialized Christianity, to even prefer a Church-less sphere so that the gospel can be fresh again.

    But I agree that it casts far too heavy a judgment on the destination where the church has arrived without giving credit to God’s redemption of human history in this country.

    (I’m not here to blow pro-American-Christian smoke up anyone’s ass, though.)

    But don’t you feel that it is exactly into a consumerist, commercialized, and/or bastardized Christianity where truly earnest faith is indeed, the LEAST safe? Your desire for a purged environment is asking for someone to hit reset, and perhaps create a more visible and familiar hardships than the ones we have now. Better to fight demons of oppression, persecution, hostility towards out faith… than to fight demons of lethargy, compromise, division, and the poison of half-truths?

    One other point: for the SAKE of the narrative itself, I think that we are not supposed to hit reset. The Christian church, in a sense, is destined to limp forward with all of its mars and flaws, with all of its shame and dirty history, because it’s only among broken people with shady pasts that a need for Christ is visible.

    While the beautiful body of Christ is empowered to do “greater things” and you may wish for it to awaken from its lethargic half-slumber, there’s also a perspective that says THIS is the most difficult context for the gospel to be lively. And so even greater and even more needy is the call for authentic expressions of faith, of humility, of servanthood, and of love.

  4. I believe America has already become less Christian. While people looking at the West believe it to be Christian, my own impression is that even though our lips profess Lord, our hearts are far from Him.

    Christ’s kingdom is here, yet not here yet. It is far easier to point fingers at all these different things that are wrong in the world.

    But I think, the first thing to come to mind is this. Christ is about going Home to Heaven and how to get there.

    If people get duped into the American Dream, then really what needs to happen is that someone has to tell them the Gospel again. Our kingdom is not of this world. Do not hang your hat up here…

    Our passion should not be the death of nationalism (regardless of country).

    Shouldn’t it rather be that people would worship God and find salvation through Christ? Anything and everything at odds to this, we pray, should fall by the way side.

    Nations may rise and fall. Tyranny comes and is kicked out by another revolution. But our citizenship lies in Heaven.

    I’m reminded of a verse… I hope this is what you were speaking to.

    “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

    Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV)

  5. I couldn’t vehemently disagree with you more ha256, when you say “Christ is about going Home to Heaven and how to get there.”

    Christ is not about creating an escape from this terrible world. That is Plato, whose worldview the Enlightenment to Modern Christians have unfortunately adopted into their theology. Christ is about creating a restorative and redeemed world in which its people image the just and redemptive kingdom in the here and now till Christ returns to RE-IMAGE the new kingdom on earth. This is how the early jewish Christians would’ve understood it. This, I believe, is the more biblically accurate portrayal of the new kingdom. Heaven, then, is the resting place of souls till Christ reappears.

    What I’m trying to say in my entry, however, is not about the role Christians should play in the world, but the relinquishing of power that Christianity has adopted in America. Christianity needs, less and less, to be a cultural symbol, and more and more to be a radically subversive faith movement.

  6. I’d like to add that the “run away to heaven” theology breeds the “saving souls” theology that you have espoused. Christians need to run as far away as possible from a one-track theology like that and go back to Judaic understanding of the world: God/Christ/Spirit is completely intertwined and invested into the actions of the world and cares more than just our souls. Way more.

  7. “God/Christ/Spirit is completely intertwined and invested into the actions of the world and cares more than just our souls. Way more.”

    Are you saying the Triunity cares “way more” for our worldy actions than our soul?

  8. more than JUST our souls.

  9. Jadanzzy, RTC.

    I think I get your description of the “run away to heaven” theology and your vehement reaction to it.

    Home / Heaven was the emphasis I was aiming for, running away from what happens here on earth was not my intent. Christ definitely entered this messy crazy world. A christians’ call to follow Him has to emulate that to some extent.

    But this does bring up another biblical passage which does seem to fit into this re-image idea.

    What about where Jesus says His kingdom is not of this world? How does that fit into this “re-imaging” concept?

  10. I don’t know what RTC means.

    The kingdom not being of this world does not mean that it’s literally in another place (again, an influence of Plato), but that it does not function in the way that the world understands a kingdom to function.

    Jesus is a Jew, so were almost all of his followers. They understand a kingdom mentality, having been part of the ruling culture, and having been part of the ruled. And during his time, as being part of the ruled, they know the Roman Empire as an oppressive force.

    Jesus did not only come to rescue our “souls”, but to image the truthful, redemptive kingdom as a radical alternative to Rome (as a symbol of this world). Romans called Christians atheists, because they did not confess Caesar as their Lord and King. Jesus’ followers confessed (and still confess) him as Lord and King. And we still must practice an alternative kingdom that is not of this world.


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