Friday, August 29, 2003

Vampires!

Yep, freakin vampires! It's the first "jenga" stick that made my view of discipleship and church life deconstruct. I didn't go looking for this, but it sure found me. Vampires, right. Sorry. It's a quote from Dallas Willlard, a prof and all around cool guy fron UCLA. The messenger of this was Todd Hunter, and it went something like this. "Christians are vampires, they only want Jesus for his blood." Translation? Here goes. 20th century evangelicalism has focused on "salvation." That is making a one time decision to repent from your sins and have your sins forgiven and therefore be able to live forever with God. And while there isn't a thing wrong with that, I did it on March 26th 1980, it's uh, well, um kinda weird when you think about it. The word to make this easy to "get" is "reductionist thinking." That is, the entire scope of the bible is reduced to praying for 30 seconds, and to quote Todd, "make mental assent to a specific group of beliefs about one specific view of Jesus' work on earth, namely "substitutionay attonement." That's Jesus taking my place on the cross since I've sinned and deserve to die. It's one critical part of what Jesus did on the cross. But, it's not close to everthing he did at the cross. And even weirder is what has happened to christians and their churches in the west since following Jesus was reduced to just this.
1. It's all we talk about in church. It's the litmus test of every sermon, song, conversation with a friend, everything.
2. Once you've "prayed the prayer" life is essentially over. You are now prepared to die. You will go to heaven.
3. Church doesn't talk generally about what to do now, except to talk about this view of the attonement with anything that moves. And that's what effective disciples do. And that's evangelism. And the heart of most sermons. In fact, no matter how obscure the Old testament passage, in most of the churches I've been in (a ton) connecting it with "the saving work of Christ on the cross" is all that matters. This one thing takes up 90% of all the thinking and acting in church.
4. It's has grown into an excuse to not discuss, learn or see anything else in the real world. And we can use it to hide from anything which makes us uncomfortable about the life and ministry of Jesus
5. It's not interesting to people outside the little clique which belives this stuff. As Todd says in his own wonderful way "its not winsome." And he's right. It's not! After 23 years it's boring. Very. To the point where being with most Christians was boring, being in church was boring.

And here's the worst part. When we reduce the Gospel to "just this" church life, and discipleship in the english speaking world is this. Go to church for 2 hours per week. Tithe (give 10% of your income to the church.) Read your bible every day. Pray. Maybe serve at church, be an usher etc. And since this is my blog I say that's crap. We essentially say that except for 2 hours on Sunday and a half an hour a couple times a week, our lives are the same as before. And hey, we need your money so go and earn all you can. We baptize 95% of American/Western culture and just tinker with the edges. Sorry, crap again. Jesus didn't die so I could be a safe, comfortable American. He has called all of us to a radically different way, which we get to ignore since we're focusing on the attonement.

Part 2 tomorrow
rob

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