the forty-second parallel


Over the past year or so, I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading about what exactly it means to be a follower of Jesus. And one thing I’ve noticed again and again is this disconnect between the life that Christ calls us to and the life that modern, evangelical Christianity sells (literally) to the world at large[1].

Michael Spencer has a good piece about why so many Christians buy into the notion of a culture war. It’s a lengthy essay, but here’s a small quote:

Both families and churches struggle in turning out disciples. American churches specialize in an consumerized, gnostic, experiential Gospel that is increasingly inseparable form the culture in which that church exists. American evangelicals have become as much like the dominant culture as it is possible to be and still exist at all. In fact, evangelicals continue to exist, in large measure, because they have mainstreamed the culture into their religion so that one’s Christianity hardly appears on the radar screen of life as in any way different from the lives of other people. We are now about values, more than about Christ and the Gospel.

Evangelicals should come to terms with this: they are in every way virtually identical to suburban, white, upper middle class American culture. They are not as bad as the worst of that culture, but they are increasingly like the mainstream of that culture and are blown about by every wind of that consumerized and materially addicted culture. In fact, go to many evangelical churches and the culture is so present, so affirmed, preached and taught that one would assume that there is nothing whatsoever counter cultural about the affirmation that Jesus is Lord.

I think it’s crucial that all Christians (but especially evangelicals) recognize that the counter cultural implications of following Christ have nothing to do with who you vote for, buying Christian CDs instead of “secular” ones, etc. and everything to do with who you live your life for.

[1] There’s a fantastic article on consumerism over at Leadership Journal by Skye Jethani: Leader’s Insight: From Christ’s Church to iChurch – How consumerism undermines our faith and community.

Posted on Saturday, August 5th, 2006 | Categories: Culture, Jesus | Respond via Twitter or .