6.15.2005

A Socially Desirable Christianity

My title comes from Flannery O'Connor. Her writings always stood against such a Christianity that had been taken captive by the values of the southern American society. Indeed, often I feel like O'Connor. I look around and see how the church has been taken captive by consumerism, narcissism, apathy towards the human condition and pain, and a church that does not seek to heal the divisions, hates, prejudices, etc. that exist in our day. Instead, it often stands idly by and often supports this culture and at times is in the driver seat of creating such a consumeristic culture.
I do not want a socially desirable Christianity. Often many in the church will look at the problems in our society and say, "They need Jesus." I think the true problem is that we, the Christian community, needs Jesus (his ideas, his ways, his compassion, his way of standing up to the religious culture of his day that did nothing to heal people and be with people).

11 comments:

  1. good post justin. i agree with you on many levels. but you knew that already.

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  2. I don't want a socially desirable Christianity. I believe there to be many moral standards placed in Scripture that are undeniably dividing from society. I know that Christians are called to live up to a moral standard presented by Christ (yes, I also know that none of us will actually make it and grace covers our shortcomings).

    These moral standards do not necessarily conincide with those outside the church. To lessen God's standards to make church more "comfortable" has been distructive to Christianity over the past 50 years. I know I might sound ultra-conservative (and even a little Jerry Falwell-ish) but I believe that those standards that make Christianity socially undesirable need to be reinforced as important to the church so as to maintain some standards.

    A faith of total inclusion is not presented in Scripture and should not be taught in the church either.

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  3. I agree with Jadedcm that many moral standards exist in Scripture. However, I think the problem is that the church fires these standards as bullets at society/culture. Instead, these standards were meant for us in the church. When we say moral standards, what I am afraid of is the Jerry Falwell-ish idea. I believe there is a moral problem in the church-- however, I think that moral problem is mostly a lack of concern and compassion for the problems of society. Take abortion for example... how dare we look a woman who has had an abortion in the eyes and tell her what a sinful act she has committed. The immoral thing is to do that. The moral thing is to come beside her and care for her-- to be concerned for her as a person.
    We see Jesus doing this all of the time in scripture. He reserves his moral condemnations for the religious rather than the world. Translated into our day--- he would chastise us rather than the world.

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  4. You know, I've actually been preparing notes to write this in much more depth, but I believe what looks imperative in scripture is actually indicative of where God is taking his children, promises of how He's molding us. The problem comes when we try to steal God's role and attempt to force sanctify everyone. It's a tragedy in a few ways. The two I think of immediately is that we ourselves fail to see our own sanctification as a gift only from God. And then we try forcing this....behaviorism....onto people and masquerade it as the gospel. We cheat them out of the real thing, drive them away from the real thing, and fail to see the real thing ourselves.

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  5. Gentlemen,

    I agree whole-heartedly. The standards presented in Scripture are to be upheld by followers of Christ. No where are we commanded to judge those who are not followers of Christ. This is a difficult line for many to follow, although I don't think that Jesus intended it to be difficult. He wants his followers living Kingdom Life but he knows that those who are not in that relationship yet cannot be held to those standards.

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  6. Justin I am curious about your perception of we southern Americans. It seems you equate radical fundamentalism with our “society” and attribute us with most social/political ills. I perceive our culture to be one of extreme tolerance almost to the point of absurdity (for a taste of what I mean simply see the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”). I am not offended, rather amused. I think what makes us unique within American culture is our attitude toward personal responsibility and the rights of the individual, which seems to agitate those who require more of a sheep mentality to govern. This brings me to the observation James offered. I think he makes an excellent point. The church was not commissioned to force, but to teach and her power is of God, not government. We, as the church, have no authority to impose our very personal morality upon another individual. We are however, commanded to love each one and especially one another. This love may include sharing some hard facts on occasion however I hope that love will always take precedence over our personal philosophy and our social/political agenda. Finally Justin I say with you “they need Jesus” and I offer my pledge to work with you all that they might know us to be a peculiar people by our love for one another and have a desire to share in that divine Joy. ;-)

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  7. Kc, I whole-heartedly agree. I would like to point out that Flannery O'Connor, not me, was making the observations of southern America, and this was a from many decades back while racism and other issues were still so visible. My experience with southern America (unless we are counting Oklahoma- which I equate with being more Texas style than anything) is small, so I have not sought to detail it, just to express someone else's reaction to a place of the past. Thanks for your comments, I definately appreciate them.

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  8. What bloggdom really needs is a little more Fresh Dirt! ;-)(Vacation? Busy? Is all well?)

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  9. chief justice justin spurlock! guess who this is? remember when you taught that awesome stage arts class at grace? do you remember your favorite students amy and lindsay? well this is the better of the two (lindsay sturgis)leaving you a comment. mwaha you thought you could avoid us forever. i still cant believe you left us like that. tisk tisk... ah well. i cant think of anything else to say, but since your nifty blog has your email, ill be sure to email you later on. oh yes, amy and michelle wanted to say that they love you.

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  10. (unless we are counting Oklahoma- which I equate with being more Texas style than anything)

    Oklahoma (particularly Tulsa) is the ideal place to cite if you are looking for a real-life illustration of what you're talking about in your post. Of course, you haven't spent your whole life living there like I have.

    (this is Amy Cook, by the way, sorry to spam your journal, but Michelle found it and sent Lindsay the link so I just had to stop by)

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  11. I can't believe you found me. It was great hearing from both of you. And true, Tulsa is a good example of this.

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