Monday, February 12, 2007

Something's Missing

Much of what I do around here lately is try to justify my own gnawing dissatisfaction with things-as-they-are Christianity. Nevertheless, the last thing I want to be is yet another blogging Christian curmudgeon, nor am I posturing as a paragon of Christ-like virtue. But it does concern me that American Christianity has positioned itself in the American marketplace as nothing more than a very effective avenue to self-esteem. It seems to me--and many others--that something is missing from our preaching, from our singing, and most fundamentally from our thinking. Jared Wilson has a long post on this very subject, and it deserves attention. He quotes a well-known Christian leader (who shall remain nameless) at length, and adds some insights of his own, like this one:
As long as our churches -- religious, irreligious, and anti-religious -- keep preaching Jesus as one who makes your life better rather than Jesus who makes dead people live, as long as we keep teaching Christianity as the gospel of personal fulfillment rather than the call to self-crucifixion -- we are proclaiming Christianity as an unneeded cure for a mythical ailment.

The truth is not that we don't like ourselves enough, have enough success, get happy enough, etc. The truth is that we are sinners in need of resurrection. If no less a giant than Martin Luther could acknowledge this, what makes us stumble over admitting it for ourselves? I think it is because we are prone to believe the problem is everyone and everything else -- but not us. It is not safe or "nice" to talk about this stuff. Sin is a forbidden word in the American church. We don't want people to be uncomfortable or feel judged.
You should read the whole thing. You won't regret it.


Terry said...

Could you please pray for David Fisher? I saw your name on his favorites and David wants that we should all pray for him as he has been ill for the last few days.
He is looking forward to taking his long dreamed for trip to England on the 27h..Thanks!!!from Terry

Anonymous said...


I noticed something waking up from a dream this morning. I think we often confuse what is going on in our inner life with what is happening in our 'real' life. I think that nine times out of ten, if we feel something is lacking it's something to do with us, rather than something about our experience, or as we often think, what somebody else won't give us. You are talking about a lack of focusing on God. But you didn't write about God, you wrote three post about the church, which mirrors the same lack of focusing on god. I have noticed something particular in myself because I revile at most doctrines. They seem to me to be worshiping ideas about God rather then God. But focusing on that can be doing the same thing; focusing on my own ideas about god. There are too many people who think they have found the right way to do things and who get us no closer to understanding.

What I had a dream about is that I was sitting in a car next to someone and they told me that it was a good thing to talk to the devil, because you could ask him what to do and then do th opposite.
Maybe what you are dissatisfied with is the fact that Christianity is manifold with conflicting ideas, each claiming to be the one and only way. And these are not the point at all. But we feel drawn into these systems which are superfluous to the timeless God, and feel the need to pick and choose from these as if making a stew. But all of these are like a thousand battling egos. Each person may have an authentic experience of God, but they maybe have subjective differences in them. Because our lives are different, God would naturally say different things to each of us. But those are what we become preoccupied with. Perhaps God tells a person who is overweight that they need to eat less and a person who is starving to find food, and these two are having a conversation about culinary arts. Naturally they are different. But having an argument the subjective messages is not talking about God at all. The world gets covered with different messages from people who are absolutely sure that theirs is the right way, the only way. And when we look at all of these messages in terms of trying to look for God, we only see the objects of people's subjective needs masquerading as God. We know in some deep place that that is not God, and so we ask "what is wrong with the church?" But we are still only thinking about our human difficulties, and the ability of our own ego to get in the way of seeing God. And if we think about what is getting in the way, and focus on it for that reason, it only becomes realer and stronger. Hence, we are, in a way, asking the devil what to do, and doing the opposite, but not really ever getting to God.

Maybe it's just me.


Bob Spencer said...

Tim, these remarks are going to require more thought and consideration on my part than a typical blog-comment allows for. So I will get back to you on this soon, either in a new post here or, who knows, over a beer somewhere!