Tuesday, February 03, 2015

A sad summary

Just saw this posted over at Jesus Creed, and excerpt from From Here to Maturity. Unfortunately, in my somewhat limited experience, I find it to be spot on:
They value a “relationship with God” above all and like the idea of “falling in love with Jesus.” They don’t see much value in the rules, strict reliefs, or structures of “religion,” although they like going to church if it helps them feel closer to God. They are largely uninformed about the teachings of their churches and may even see doctrine or theology as enemies of authentic spirituality. They like the sense of belonging and acceptance that they find in their congregations but are not very open to being corrected by fellow believers. Their God is always there to help them feel better about their problems, and this is one of the chief benefits they see in their faith. They like the idea of spiritual growth, but they may not know much about how to grow and may rate themselves more highly than they should. They are drawn to religious experiences that produce emotional highs and sometimes assume that experiencing strong feelings is the same thing as spiritual authenticity. They see themselves as in charge of their own search for a satisfying sense of religious identity. In short, American Christianity looks a lot like we would expect it to look if many Americans were stuck in a Christianized version of adolescent narcissism (25).
<idle musing>
Wow. Not a god you would die for, that's for sure...Lord, send us a fresh vision of who you really are! May we catch sight of the faith that drove the early church to give all, that has caused people throughout history to dedicate their entire lives to serving and loving you. May we give up our caricatures of you and see you as you really are!
</idle musing>


Marilyn Lundberg said...

Unfortunately, this sounds like my church.

That's my 2 cents! said...

Hey James,

I think a core problem is that we don't see God as "other" than ourselves. We make God in our own image rather than expecting God to conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.

My friend Shawn has a friend who is a professor at Liberty University. He teaches a course on the personhood of Jesus Christ, and at the beginning of every year this professor asks his students a series of questions which reveal their thinking about who Jesus is. The majority of students report that Jesus is just like themselves. The kicker is that at the end of the semester this professor asks the same questions, and, unfortunately, the students answer the same way, Jesus is viewed as being just like themselves.

Jesus is nothing like me! God will not be my "sugar daddy." We see this kind of very bad thinking in all of the designer theology which is taking over the Church. We've got WOF for the yuppy christian; the indulgent, "Love is whatever feels good," god for the gay christian; the angry shemale, transvestite god for the feminist christians. What the designer christian crowed forget is that they may change the flavor or color of their designer god, but the God who reveals himself in the Bible doesn't change.

I'm gonna bring out one of my core beliefs now... It's from John 8:31-32.

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I like the NASB's version for one word. The NASB uses the word "abide" instead of what the NIV renders "hold". To those who believed, Jesus teaches, "abide in; hold to; think, be, and do what I teach." Abiding in the teachings of Jesus makes us true disciples, and as we abide, more and more, (becoming truer disciples), we know the truth, and the truth sets us free. (The truth Jesus is teaching here is less principles, ideals, ideas and more about truly knowing him. Jesus tells us he is the way the truth and the life.).

We don't disciple people any more, and so what do we honestly expect? We don't hold people to the most basic teachings of Jesus, so American christianity is what we get...the reaping of whirlwinds.

Just my 2 cents...


jps said...

Thanks for that, Lonnie. I've heard from other professors who teach on Jesus; unfortunately, their results are pretty much the same. After a semester of going through the gospels, most students still see Jesus as just like them. Sad.

As for John 8:31–32, yes, I prefer abide/remain. The Greek is μένω (menō), one of John's favorite words—and one of mine, too : )