This morning I read a tweet announcing that this individual was about to read a book by the name of Christ Alone. Sounded like a boring old Christian book to me, but it was better than that. Only a few weeks after the release of Love Wins there is ALREADY a “response” book out there against it. That is impressive. Do you remember the Da Vinci Code? Here are just a few of the “response” books to that:
- The Da Vinci Code Controversy
- Breaking the Da Vinci Code
- The Da Vinci Hoax
- Exploring the Da Vinci Code
- Da Vinci Code Decoded
- The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code
- Cracking Da Vinci’s Code
- Cracking the Da Vinci Code (not to be confused with Cracking Da Vinci’s Code)
Seriously, I did not just make that up. So what is the point? I’m not sure that I have a point but I just found this interesting. Are Christians overly reactionary? Or are “Christian” publishing companies just really good marketers who know how to ride the coat tales of the success of others? Do Christians worry too much about people being tricked into abandoning the faith by every popular book or movie that questions Christian beliefs? Do Christians not have enough of a foundation in Christ not to be washed around by every contradictory belief out there?
Those are some of the concerns that are raised in my mind when I see this trend of books in “response” or offering a “Christian perspective” on certain popular subjects. Why bother responding? Why not just teach the truth from a positive angle (i.e. this is the truth) as opposed to the negative angle (i.e. this is not true, this is not true …)? It seems much more effective to teach one truth thus opposing ALL beliefs that contradict that truth than to go out and try to disprove every particular opposing belief out there.
This is kinda silly, but I am interested as a matter of research for my novel.
Think back on the history of the church and you see many different developments that have forced Christians to question how they have understood the world and their faith. For some this meant walking away from what they believed, for others it meant conforming their beliefs, for others it meant ignoring obvious truths, and for another group it meant trying to see where their interpretation of Scripture, traditions vs. truth, and presuppositions led them to wrongly associate their incorrect ideas with Christianity.
When the heliocentricity of the solar system became pretty much undeniable many people struggled with how this fit into their faith. They had always understood the earth to be the center of the solar system and this supported their beliefs that the earth was the center of God’s creation and the language of the Bible which spoke of the rising and setting of the sun. If the earth were not the center of the universe than they had to revisit these areas of their beliefs.
So what would a zombie apocalypse do to your faith? What would you have to ask yourself about God and the Bible and your beliefs? Which group that I talked about above would you fall into?
Obviously this is just for fun. Feel free to share your thoughts or tell me that this is sacrilegious. It won’t hurt my feelings.
Scenario 1: When I was a teenager I used to listen to a lot of “underground” music by bands that made livings working at McDonalds or cleaning toilets or whatever they had to do. They worked to make money. They played music because they loved it. Sometimes those bands would break out and start to gain enough popularity to live off their music. I don’t know if it was me or them, but I felt like it changed their music, like they weren’t playing because they loved it anymore, now they were playing to make their fans happy so they could sell CDs and concert tickets. I usually stopped listening to those bands. They had become sellouts.
Scenario 2: If you were planning a wedding and you wanted really nice pictures you would probably want to hire a professional photographer. You may not have anything against your sister’s brother-in-law’s daughter, but, although she loves taking pictures, she only does it as a hobby and you can’t trust that she will be able to provide high-quality photos which are very important to you for remembering your wedding day fondly. It’s simply an inescapable fact that professionals generally produce higher quality results than amateurs.
These two scenarios represent two very different mindsets. The first prefers the person who is unpaid. His work is far superior to the work of the sellout because he does it with love and passion and without the handcuffs of a paycheck holding him back. The second scenario prefers the professional because she has taken the time, gotten the training, and demonstrated the talent necessary to really “succeed” in her field.
Which perspective do you generally lean toward? Does it vary based on the field or discipline? Here’s the real question: does your perspective on this impact your understanding of ministry and professional ministers, pastors, worship leaders and so on? Just a thought.
When I read Scripture I see the passion of those who follow Christ. I see that their faith is crucial to their life. It is not the thing they need to “try” at, but the thing that gives them the strength to “try” at the rest of life. I see this same thing among many believers throughout history. This was one of the biggest things I noticed when I read through the Bonhoeffer biography I just finished, Bonhoeffer didn’t have to “try” to care about his faith. His faith is what enabled him to deal with everything else in life. You see this same thing in The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom saw Christ and her relationship with him as the thing that would enable her to act bravely in love for those in need, and endure the incredible hardships that she faced as a result of those activities.
When you gather on an average Sunday in an average church you will most likely hear a sermon encouraging you to care about your faith. It may be a sermon telling you to read your Bible more, or asking you why you don’t get as excited about Jesus as you do about football or telling you that if you really love Jesus you will have a spirit of giving or a million other things that I would label in the category of “trying to get by.” What I mean by that is that Christians today spend so much time just trying to care about what they believe that the faith itself is what becomes the struggle, not the answer to the struggles of life. Is this because we are so comfortable? I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but honestly I can’t say for sure why it is this way.
I am tired of constantly being encouraged to rededicate my life or recommit myself to following Christ. When we have to spend all our time trying to care about our supposed “beliefs” I wonder if we really believe them at all.
Of course we all struggle in many ways. I am no exception to that rule. I could even go so far as to say I personify that rule, but there is a fundamental difference between starting at your faith to help you overcome the struggles in your heart and life, and that faith being the very thing you struggle to care about.
What do you think? Am I overstating something that is nothing more than the normal struggle of Christians throughout history, or is there something very different about the way we approach our faith today, in the comforts of America, as opposed to those who have come before us, many of which faced severe persecution and struggled for their very survival?
I couldn’t really think of a post to write today, but I have had a lot of ideas floating around in my head so I thought I would share them.
- The Pendulum of theology and religion is simply a symptom of Reactionary Theology. True pursuit of truth would place very little importance on what is popular, or unpopular for that matter.
- Sometimes I wonder if, in an attempt to recognize the influence culture has on us, I am actually just being a product of my culture. I live in a world where questioning everything, and seeking a broader (from various cultures, and various times) understanding must be at least loosely associated with the popularity of Postmoderinity. To be consistent, should this idea itself, to take into consideration various opinions through history and various cultures, be weighed in the balance of history and various cultures? I feel like this is a bit paradoxical.
- Is there a theological language spell-checker out there that actually includes words like postmillennialism and echlesiology? (suggestions from my spell-checker when writing the previous two words: neocolonialism and neurophysiology respectively)
- Something interesting I recently read about in the Bonhoeffer biography I am working through is that when Bonhoeffer comes to America he notices that the people lack theological depth, but demonstrate a much stronger sense of community and service to those in need then the people in Germany.
- Why do people fast? What is the point?
I guess that is about it.