The Insulation of The Church: Us vs. Them

The following may be perceived as heretical and definitely liberal Christianity.  Conservative sensibilities may be offended by the following.  If you don’t know that you’re conservative, if you read the following and thoughts of me, the writer, going to hell, me being excommunicated from the church, ridden out on a rail or thinking anything that would cause me bodily harm cross your mind, then you are conservative.

This post mainly was spurred by me attending Creation Fest NE and being around that many people who profess to be Christians.  It was the first time where I had been around that many people who claimed to be Christians, and I didn’t feel it that much.  I didn’t experience this surge of spirituality; I didn’t feel compelled to go out and evangelize; I wasn’t moved to do anything but come back home.

Maybe it was the fact that it was my first time camping and I went 4 days not washing my body.

Or maybe it was the stark cultural differences that I was experiencing–I’m sure that there wasn’t more than 50 black people out of 70,000 that were there.

Whatever, I know that when Ron Luce began to speak, I was completely turned off and it was then that I began to really worry about what direction were those of us as Christians headed. 

Luce began reading headlines from newspapers talking about how children, nowadays, are caught up in things that children before never were.  Don’t get me wrong, the headlines about young teenagers involved with rapes and murders were unsettling, but he then began to focus on culture as the culprit. Using the famous 2 Corinthians 5:17 passage about being a “new creature” in Christ and Paul’s words about being in the world, but not of the world, he launched into this diatribe of how culture was the ultimate culprit that was after the kids.  As he talked about video games, the internet (Facebook, Myspace etc.) and even television and music itself, he used his speaking platform as a bully pulpit completely coming against culture.

This was where I drew the proverbial line in the sand.

The explicit message in his sermon was that we, the church, should influence culture.  Well, I’m not totally against that, but the question I want to ask is, which part of the church is doing the influencing because I’m not convinced he’d be happy if the morelights started doing some influencing of culture.  I’d further press the issue by asking just how does one go about influencing culture.

Aside from all of those immediate questions that popped into my head, and also into the heads of the youth I was sitting around (we were being shushed by a mildly retarded kid sitting behind us because we were being quite vocal about our distaste for Luce), I began to get nervous and agitated because to me it seemed that his invective set up a dichotomy between the church and the world; one where the church has convinced themselves that they’re going to win because God is on their side and all this good stuff…and when I hear this in the pulpit I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Messages such as this get church folk fired up and they go out, and get over zealous about all the “unsaved” people of the world; about all the “starving people in Africa and Asia who don’t know Jesus” and I’m sorry, that just gives me code word for “all the uncivilized savages in Africa and Asia” and I get all mad and irritated. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cultural critiques, but I feel what too many Christians who err on the side of conservatism do is set up this us vs. them dichotomy and WHY would anyone want to join the opposite side if you’ve already condemned them to hell?   It’s great to say that behind doors when it’s just the people who are closer to your wavelength of thinking, but speaking in front of large audiences and congregations, one must be very careful about the consciousness shaping that takes place.

Case in point, the team leader and one of the other interns were VERY apologetic to Ron Luce and inferred much of what he said to fit their own beliefs.  When I asked them about what they thought, they began by saying, “Well, I think what he meant was…” and went  on to explain what “hyperbole” was because he gave one terrible analogy: he compared letting a child rapist or molester into your house to letting your kids watch television unsupervised.  As far as preaching is concerned, one must be VERY careful about what words are used to get certain points across.  I think Luce was very deliberate in his critique about culture and where the church should stand on cultural issues.

My ultimate problem with these kind of messages is that it appears that this type of thinking would advocate for a theocracy of some sort.  I doubt these good Amur-rican folk would call for a Constantine type of government, but one where they (these conservative evangelicals) would dictate the moral standard of what is right and what isn’t.  Frankly, I’d be scared to live in a country or even a  community where like-minded people, such as Ron Luce, even remotely had an imput on what should be considered moral.  Because it seems that the next step would be to judge who is and who isn’t saved.

Saved from what I want to ask?

Is it simply being saved from hell?  Because I’ve yet to figure out what else I’m allegedly saved from.  Even though I claim “saved” status, I mean, being saved from hell is alright, but, um, couldn’t we find something else to be saved from.  I’m certainly not saved from sin because clearly I’ve done somethings that have separated me from God ever since I professed being a follower of Christ.

I’m really at the point in my Christian journey where I totally believe that Christ is a way to God, but not the way.  Of course that means I don’t believe in the infalibility of the Bible; I believe the words written are definitely inspired by God, but certainly worthy of cultural and social faux pas that should be taken into consideration when read through a modern day lens.  However, since Christ is the only way to God that I know about, I certainly won’t be encouraging anyone to discover the Deity through Buddhism for instance.

I’d much rather see Christians remove the God-talk from the outset and get rid of this us vs. them mindset.  I’m convinced that we’d so-say “win more souls for Christ” if we just were overall nice people, then when the question gets raised or the subject comes up, then we take advantage of that teaching moment.  Some might do this anyway, but by in large, we operate prior to that moment waiting for that moment to happen.  My answer is, just let it be, God is gonna take care of it anyway; stop worrying.

I’m pretty sure most people aren’t going to read this one because it has no pictures, oh well, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t put it out there some kind of way.

What are you’re feelings about how the overall church has done as far as evangelism and getting the word out about Christianity?  Do you feel that there are differences between black churches and white churches with respect to evangelism?  What do you think are the places that the church could change/grow as far as dealing with those who don’t consider themselves Christian?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

One thought on “The Insulation of The Church: Us vs. Them

  1. I thought this was an excellent post…very honest. I want to respond further (i.e. answer some of your questions), but will have to do so later in the day when I can reread. I have tried to have these same discussions with fellow “saints” but they look at me as if I have totally lost my mind…It’s unfortunate sometimes that church folk believe all that is said to them without seeking for themselves.

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