Thursday, July 14, 2005

Missing the Point: Culture

Lately I've been re-reading some of Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo and I thought I'd share a couple parts that will probably spark a little conversation.

In this chapter, McLaren talks about the whole "in the world, but not of the world" idea that Christians cling so dearly to.

For a long time I've been adhering to McLaren's thoughts on all sorts of topics...such as salvation, evolution, and many more. So as somewhat of a response to a comment regarding my Eminem post, I offer this for your reading enjoyment.

I promise I'll do my best to keep this in context...


"Despite our sincerity and best of motives, preachers like me mess people up. It's unintentional, believe me: we're just trying to protect people. But we damage people nonetheless."

"We want to protect folks from following the crowd and succumbing to peer pressure, so we imply--or outright assert--that good Christians don't go to R-rated movies (or any movies at all), don't listen to rap music (or any popular music at all). We discourage them from making non-Christian friends. We approve them spending all their time in church services, church meetings, church activities--safe rabbit holes, a protective Christian ghetto."

"We want to protect folks from their faith, so we warn them against reading philosophy, from participating in culture and the arts, from dealing with tough questions and controversial issues. We preachers exhort them to avoid the sciences (they might accept evolution!), avoid the social sciences (they might sympathize with liberals, criminals, and homosexuals!), avoid the arts (they may have to look at nudes!). We recite pat answers and platitudes, even when it makes us feel dishonest, shallow, trite, tortured. We feel justified though, convincing ourselves that a bad faith is better than a lost faith."

"In short, wanting to protect our congregation from becoming of the world, we preachers tell them, 'Don't be in it.' We're just more comfortable to have Christians under our influence to be outside our culture rather than in it, into it, or with it."

"Preachers are certainly correct about Jesus calling us to be not of the world. We are correct about him wanting us to be different--like salt in the meat, not just meat; like light in the darkness, not just more darkness (Matthew 5:13ff)"

"But we're terribly wrong about the rest: Jesus did not want us to be out of the world--that's unquestionably clear from his prayer recorded in John 17."

"Jesus says that his followers are protected not by isolation, but by identity. Their very identity as disciples means they understand themselves to be set apart, called to a special and holy purpose. They have received the truth of God's message, and this truth has become for them a call to a higher, deeper, richer, more purposeful life."

"But we preachers are missing the point when, instead of using all our powers to and gifts to infuse people with a sense of Christian identity and mission, we opt for isolation. Whenever we offer the lesser option--and whenever people take it--we all fail Jesus, and our neighbors. We work against Jesus instead of for him."

There's so much more...I almost want to scan all the pages of the chapter so that you could read for yourselves. But I'm with McLaren on this one (as I usually am). I'm tired of Christians running away from the world with their tail between their legs. "Oh no! Jessica Simpson is in a bikini!!" "Oh my gosh! I just heard the 'F' word on TV!"

It's a little embarrassing in my opinion.


Blogger thisdesertlife said...

You and I definitely agree on all this.

July 14, 2005 10:58 AM  
Blogger Sabrina said...

i agree. i think often we spend so much time making sure that people know what we don't do, that they have no idea what we do or believe. sometimes we even forget what we're really called to, because we're so busy not doing the wrong thing. it's crazy and sad.

thanks for posting's a great reminder.

July 14, 2005 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Rebeka R. said...

This post is interesting. I like what the author said about identity. Looking at it in Biblical context, Jesus did spend time with the so-called sinners, tax-collectors and prostitues. At the same time, He didn't become like them. So I guess there is a fine line between being "in the world" and "of the world," and each of us should be aware of what that line is.

July 14, 2005 4:38 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks Drew, we need a little jolt back to how Jesus REALLY said we should live. Actually, most of us could use a Giagantic Whallop across the face to help us realize that people don't want to be Christians because many Christians act like scared little goodie-two-shoes. When I read the gospels, JESUS didn't at all seem to be a "goodie-two-shoes," in fact, he was rather radical (I think Jesus may have gone to see Eminem with you. <--Wonder how many people think that was heresy...). So, if we're supposed to follow Christ's example, that means we're supposed to be radical too, no? Jesus hung out with the "wrong crowd" - theiving tax collectors, immoral women, etc. Did He condone their activities? No. But He loved them unconditionally, and I'll bet it's pretty dang hard to love someone unconditionally if you're too afraid of their lifestyle to even go near them.
Thanks for this post, it really makes me re-examine my life to see if I am shrinking back from our culture and our world!

July 14, 2005 5:07 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Drew, you have been blessed with an amazing mind. I like the way you look at things. Thanks for pushing me into thinking about things past the surface...Jen

July 14, 2005 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just some eminem lyrics...good stuff, huh?

Starin at my jeans, watchin my genitals bulgin (Ooh!)
That's my motherfuckin balls, you'd better let go of em
They belong in my scrotum, you'll never get hold of em

July 15, 2005 6:53 PM  

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