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Kitbashing Christianity

  07/07/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

 

If you’ve done any architectural modeling, military modeling, model railroading, or movie special effects modeling, you are familiar with the concept of kitbashing, wherein the modeler buys an off-the-shelf product and cannibalizes it, repurposes it, re-proportions it to suit his needs.

So for instance if some religiously disposed people took home brewing, modernism, queer theory, pidgin wordsmithing, weak-minded activism, and bargain bin graffiti, and imposed it on the minds of dysfunctional people whose skills were required nowhere else, you would get Emergence. No one who’d been to school would recognize it as real theology, or real philosophy, or real liturgy, or real art; they would see it as kitbashed Liberalism.

Emergents aren’t the only ones who did this, of course, but they did it so badly, so crudely, so ineptly, that they make the easiest illustration of the phenomenon. They are not so much unique as conspicuous. They are a socially disheveled and morally bewildered lot, so they look strange, but what they do is typical of all modern, perplexed people.

If you were to take a look at the contents of any random issue of Christianity Today, you would see an equally directionless herd of shuffling followers. If you take a look at any random day at The Gospel Coalition website, you would get a similar impression: lost people trying to appear aware of the zeitgeist and competent to address the issues that concern us all.

From today’s #Right Now listing:

Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?
Singing a New Song: The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation
I’m Not Safe; No Black Male Is Safe
Southern Honor and Evangelical History: An Interview with Robert Elder
Christian Music Radio is More Theological Than You Think
7 Common Mistakes Search Committees Make


This of course is alien to the New Testament church; Peter and Paul and James and John and Luke especially, I think, would wonder whatever happened to the Gospel.

It is also alien to historic Christianity; Augustine and Tertullian and Thomas More and Luther and Zwingli and Zinzendorf and Edwards and Wesley and Tozer would be irritated at what happened to their religion.

The church I normally attend fancies itself within the Reformed tradition. They’re not, obviously. As individuals they are indistinguishable from the world. They don’t work like Puritans, they don’t preach like Puritans, they don’t pray like Puritans, they aren’t disciplined like Puritans, they are not entertained by things that entertained Puritans, they don’t talk like Puritans, but in their meetings they like to quote from The Valley of Vision.

The last handful of weeks I’ve visited a couple different churches, one a satellite church with two kinds of services, a creepy Contemporary Service which caters to preadolescent intellects, and a Classic Service which is even creepier. Here was a sad collection of retired people few enough they wouldn’t even have packed out the janitor’s closet, and they tried desperately to relive the warmth they enjoyed during their last viewing of a Gaither&Friends Homecoming.

Classic.

Another church, also “reformed” (in the worst possible sense of that word), lost its pastor and is now misled by two lay preachers who view themselves as competent apologists for Christianity. Under the new leadership, the piano-banger thinks of himself as a jazz pianist and his morning service as the way God likes to relax after a hard week.

But the only kitbashing that we notice is others’. That’s what disturbs me most.

We seem, somehow, unable to share in a pursuit of true judgment. This community doesn't know what motives it depends on, nor does it possess the art of feeling.


 

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And a Good Thing Too

  06/06/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



“The shift in the last few years has really been stunning," said Ed Stetzer, executive director of Lifeway Research, an evangelical consulting firm in Nashville, Tennessee. "Nobody would have guessed the pace of change. That's why so many people are yelling we have to take our country back.”

 

"We've lost our home field advantage," Stetzer said.

 

What has caused Stetzer and his tribe of faux skollers, bean counters, and political wonks to feel stunned, to feel alienated and anxious? Why, declining political clout, of course! That should tell you an awful lot about Evangelicals.

Evangelicalism’s devotion to pop entertainment, its obsession with celebrity, its moral disgraces, its criminal materialism, its conspicuous worldliness, its doctrinal infidelities, were not shocking enough for “Special Ed” Stetzer and friends, but knock them on their sanctimonious fundaments, and you will have gotten their attention.

Apparently they really did think America was their “home field”.

But this is a good thing, an excellent thing.

This is a really hopeful and encouraging development. Let’s hope the “sharper” Evangelicals—if that’s not too hilarious an oxymoron—will sit up and take notice for once.



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Obscene Before, Obscene During, and Obscene After

  05/14/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism has, half a century late and after determined efforts to hide the guilty and abandon the victims, expressed regrets for “corporate failures [which] generally fall under the category of failure to implement its own Principles and Practices, guidelines, instructions, and directives as outlined below. The organizational failures cover decades before, during and after Donn Ketcham’s termination, beginning in the early 1960s.”

I don’t necessarily recommend that you read this final report: it is so thoroughly disgusting I can’t imagine it has any power at all to edify anyone. How it is that anyone connected to this organization (or in support of this organization) can walk about in daylight genuinely tests one’s commitment to civil discourse. Some people are just loathsome beyond polite language.

I do not stand behind all the work of Professional Investigators International. They themselves seem more than a little creepy, but perhaps Evangelicalism has brought us to the point that it takes the creepy to expose the cruel.

So while I don’t recommend a reading, if you are an honest person who wishes to perpetuate the notion of civilized men that history must be more than hagiography, if you want to understand the health of this movement, and if you want to take a measure of the integrity of its followers, you probably ought to read it.

I do suggest you read the “Root Causes”, p. 192. There is much you might recognize, and if you do, you must ask yourself if any of this scandal properly falls under the heading of “doing the work of the ministry”.



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“Bible Studies for People Who Like Movies”

  05/10/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



Not to be believed:


MODERN PARABLES. Modern Parables is an original film-based Bible study series on Jesus’ parables. It uses short films combined with teaching by pastors and in-depth study materials to create an entirely new learning experience.

Modern Parables seeks to re-create the emotional immediacy that Jesus’ 1st-century audience felt when hearing the parables. It does this by using some of the best parable scholarship and exploring it through creative filmmaking. The gut-level understanding made possible by the films is intended to drive listeners into a deeper understanding of the Bible.

By modernizing the parables, they become more accessible to a contemporary audience. People can immediately relate to what the films are saying as well as to what the pastors are teaching. The pastoral application videos show how the parables relate to our daily lives, as well as how we each fit into the broader scope of the Kingdom of God.




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An Answer Perhaps?

  05/06/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



An Evangelical can, and therefore inevitably will, believe anything.

After reading Paradise Lost years ago I’ve often had reason to wonder what could possibly give Beelzebub any sliver of hope that in going up against the Almighty he could enjoy any success. Could he turn a profit of even a penny?

Does he maybe admit that while he can’t win outright, he might take consolation in some blemish left on God’s glory? “I may be destroyed, but God will wince every time he thinks of me.”

Is he hoping a pyrrhic victory will haunt God’s hopes for the world to come?

Does he suppose he’ll still be able to mount a counterattack in the New Heavens and the New Earth? God is bound by his eternal and perfect plan; like a terrorist, I have to succeed only once, and I have forever to sully this perfection. God has bound himself to redemption and reconciliation, and with man that has got to be a grubby and tedious business.

Then I read this over at Thom Rainer, and it hit me: the Serpent has Evangelicals on his side!

An Evangelical—and I put this forward as a case in point—has snapped on his plastic thinking cap and come up with 5 reasons his sort of church bumpkin should “pay attention” to hip-hop: cultural understanding, effective communication, different perspectives, theological conversations, and ministry reminders.

You should read it. Notice how the writer treats scripture. Notice his incompetence in cultural matters.

 

Because, as I say, if Beelzebub has any chance at all, I think it probably starts with the gullibility and witlessness of Evangelicals.



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