Monday, December 07, 2009

About those 10 Commandmand Roadsigns

I saw the signs in Ohio. One through five on the first sign, six through ten on the next.  Of course, going like the devil down I-70 leaves you no time to read past the first three words, but the first three words are all most of us need. "Thou shalt not," we read, and then, as the sign dwindles in our rear view mirror, we think, "That was the 10 commandments! On a roadsign!"

Now, up here in Maine, if you put that kind of sign beside the road (not that you could, since we have a law here against billboards and such), but if you did, people would whiz by and say, "Sheesh, how do they expect us to read all that!? Wonder what it was advertising."

And that's the difference, methinks, between Christendom and post-Christendom. In Christendom, it makes sense to put up that sort of billboard beside the road, I suppose. People will know what it's there for: it's there to convict. Whether or not the passing motorist cares at all about keeping the law, they know what they have just seen. It's the law of God, which they learned about in Sunday school. It's the way God wants us all to live. They might or might not believe it, but it's all part of the shared cultural baggage of Christendom. People will see the sign, be reminded of the commandments, and the gears of memory will turn in the completely predictable way. Some will scoff, some will make a mental note, and some will sense an inkling of conviction, but none will simply shrug and wonder, "What was that all about?"

Like in post-Christendom. Here, the whole Billy Graham/sinner's prayer approach will only be met with blank stares. I thought of all this when I read David Fitch's post, “You Must Admit You Are A Sinner!”: Why This Doesn’t Work in Post Christendom Evangelism [HT: Transforming Sermons]. Fitch says it well:
These kind of approaches assume a whole host of things that have been true about our own conversions, yet make no sense to people in the new worlds of post Christendom. We therefore end up coming off as incessantly judgmental, and make no point of contact for witnessing the good news. The result is often now this person will try to run and hide whenever she sees an evangelical Christian within 50 feet.
It's a good post that goes far beyond my ruminations here.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I don't suppose you've seen the bumper stickers that say "Keep The 10 Commandments"? Down here in Tennessee I see it about once a month. What this and the billboards you point out is that "Christendom" is more worried about behavior than about the Gospel. Or they see the Gospel as behavior - scary proposition.

I guess it just amazes me that you could choose to put anything on a billboard or bumper sticker and the 10C - a rule list - is what gets chosen.