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April 28, 2005

How We Look

I think that, for the most part, here is how most Americans see Evangelical Christians:

Once I read a book, and this is what it said,
If your music has a beat, then your gonna wind up dead.
It doesn't really matter if its "Christian" or not,
if it's syncopated rhythm, then your soul is gonna rot.
And this book was called:
Ha! you're gonna burn!
and in the second chapter, I went on to learn:

You take 2 houseplants and put ‘em to the test,
set them both in front of speakers and let the music do the rest.
The first one you play Mozart or something lovely like that,
the second one you play that Petra or that MegaDeth.
It doesn't really matter what kind of rock it is.

What we really need, of course, is for Americans to see us in the light of the last two stanzas:

So I took my two houseplants, and I put 'em both back outside, and me and my neighbor, well, we went out for a drive. We talked about all the things that really matter most, like life and love and happiness, and then the Holy Ghost.

Now my two houseplants both sit out in the sun,
and as for my neighbor, well our friendship has become,
a meaningful relationship that’s headed straight to Heaven,
but as for now, we like to sit around and listen to Audio Adrenaline
cranked to eleven!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no feel good "Christianity's about your self-image and Jesus just loves you the way you are, so do the best you can" type of person (sorry, I just cannot bring myself to put dashes between all those words). I am fully aware that, in each case when faced with a sinner, Jesus, in addition to loving the person, also required the person to stop sinning. (See, e.g., John 5:14.)

Jesus commanded Christians to "Love one another." Do we do that? Do people notice how we treat other Christians with love? For that matter, do people realize that we love them too? Pretty much . . . I think not. Most people see us in the light of the first two verses to the AudioA song above.

It doesn't have to be that way. We can still reflect the love of Christ and the holiness of Christ as well. Perhaps if we focused on the love part as much as the stop sinning part, we'd come a bit closer to the mark.

One good starting point: Modern Christians, particularly Evangelicals, should re-discover the concept of humility. There's not a lot of humility in modern Christian Evangelicals today. No, not much at all. We pay lip service to that virtue, of course, much as we pay lip service to other Christian virtues (you know, like charity). But, frankly, most Evangelicals don't have a lot of time for humility these days. Too busy with other things.

Well, it's a thought anyway.

Posted by Mark at April 28, 2005 11:07 PM

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Sorry you feel that way. I'm going to assume that you are reporting your personal experiences with Christians and not just repeating the stereo-type propelled by anit-Christian society. (The Christian Community does not need self-flagellation here). The stereo-type is NOT true among the believers with whom I have been priviledged to serve. Honestly, you may wish to consider hanging out with a different set of Christians. Get someplace where there is a healthly atmosphere of love. I know there are plenty that exist - specifically in Minneapolis.

Posted by: bruce at April 29, 2005 10:23 AM

You know, wherever I go and wherever I read, evangelicals are complaining that there is not enough love among evangelicals. No kidding? Really?

You guys can't be more loving, Stones, because evangelical Christianity is not about love but power and control. To retreat from the emphasis on sin is to give up the idea that we must control others by using the idea of sin against them.

Any system of authority, from Christianity to corporations, has the problem of enforcing system values on the individuals who adhere to it even when the System itself is not around to monitor adherent behavior. Authority systems typically pursue a range of strategies to get the adherent to internalize system values. A leading corporation calls this process "McDonaldization".

The function of "sin" is to get the believer into the habit of constantly monitoring their behavior even in the absence of overt system control. In Communist systems "sin" is called "counterrevolutionary behavior"; in Facist systems it goes under a variety of names, but often it is simply termed called "crimes against the state." Through sin, and the working of fear and guilt, the believer teaches herself to internalize system values. Often these values are instantiated by indoctrination during childhood, to get the believer to identify with the system prior to developing the values and autonomy that would enable him to evaluate the system in a robust manner. It is not a coincidence that the various authority beliefs, Christianity, Mormonism, Communism, Nazism, Islam, Juche, and so forth, all stress indoctrination during childhood.

So when you say that you want to shift to an emphasis on 'love' you are speaking of the impossible. To do that would be to give up the authority drive of evangelical Christianity, and learn to live in a society with others, and trust them (the opposite of control, Stones, is trust). Is evangelical Christianity capable of that? Not that I can see, and not that anyone else can see.

Infidel in Exile

Posted by: Infidel in Exile at April 30, 2005 10:46 PM