Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
“What’s happening is secularism and devout religion is growing together. And what’s going away is the kind of mushy middle, where people are just part of the synagogue, the mosque or the church because it’s expected,” said Keller. “So what’s actually happening is polarization.But not only is
These are the words of Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC (read full article here.) He believes that the person who grew up going to church because it was expected or the cultural norm, is no longer the person going to church. He's claiming that most of those persons are either walking away from the church or they're going to church as a more committed and active follower of Christ.
I'm trying to lay his comments next to a Barna report that shares six megathemes/patterns seen in American Christianity these days. As I read that report and also reflect on Keller's words, these are my thoughts:
I see polarizing happening, but I think a lot of the polarizing is tied up with politics.
And I believe the mushy middle is still very mushy. Barna's report includes "the finding that few adults believe that their faith is meant to be the focal point of their life or to be integrated into every aspect of their existence. Further, a growing majority believe the Holy Spirit is a symbol of God's presence or power, but not a living entity." I would say this is true...which means there's quite a lot of mushy middle.
I think we need a new model. I don't want to be a part of any of those groups. Not those who are walking away, disgusted by what they see Christians to represent. Not those who are polarized in a nationalist-type of Christianity, nor do I want to be lukewarm or mushy.
Perhaps the new model is Jesus. Looking to him, I see a leader whose life reflected the kingdom he represented. He could speak words of challenge, be clear about truth, but at the same time his love and grace for people were over the top. He was all about high expectation, high grace.
Just as churches have become associated over the years to be either "evangelical" or "social justice" (and now we're trying to put proclamation and demonstration back together where they belong), I also think Christians have become either too high expectation without grace (causing a superiority and judgmentalism that has been damaging), or we've become too high grace without clear expectation (causing a mushiness with little transformation). Radical living and loving...I think that's what Jesus would ask of us these days.