Thursday, April 16, 2009

Christianity As We Know It

Dr. Renita Weems, in a prophetic discerning of the times at her blog Something Within, has pointed out a few trends that cause us to either reevaluate our theology or be prepared to see Christianity (as we know it)become an afterthought or footnote in history.

Dr. Weems, notes that Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut all provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples. New York is considering legislation while the City Council in the District of Columbia just voted to recognize valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions even though same-sex couples cannot get married in D.C. It now appears as if in the not too distant future same-sex marriage will be universally accepted in the U.S. as it is doubtful that this rushing tide of momentum can be stopped.

I can also report from the front lines of ministry and community service that defeat in the theological fight for sexual abstinence in teens has pretty much been conceded as adolescent reproductive health remains a pressing social, health and economic issue. The strategy in the fight to reduce teen pregnancy has shifted to contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted disease.

Meanwhile, according to a Pew Forum poll the percentage of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith has doubled in recent years, to 16 percent and the number of people willing to describe themselves as atheist or agnostic has increased about fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million.

The question I think that these trends present is Has Christianity become irrelevant for our day?

My take is that maybe we have misread or misinterpreted the scriptures evidenced by the disparity in our placing great theological emphasis upon one or two issues that comparatively receive very little biblical attention while we gloss over the weightier matters such as love and justice which occur repeatedly throughout the entire bible.

It may be a good thing for a misinformed Christianity to die if it is to be reborn with primary scriptural emphasis of justice, described as the establishment or restoration of fair, equitable, and harmonious relationships in society. This is an ethic which holds that everyone has the same inalienable right as anyone else to life, liberty and wholeness as well as freedom from exploitation, oppression, and victimization.

The other ethic that is foundational to the bible and which Jesus counted as the greatest of all God's commandments and the epitome of all the law and the prophets is love. These principles are missing from public policies and our day to day dealings with one another, the lack thereby producing an inauthentic Christian ethic.

Any confining of Christianity to a narrow legalism, slogan, mantra, law, rule, or 'ism including racism, sexism, classism, homophobism, exlusionism rather than the much larger principles of love, justice, or mercy in its application is indicative of a small god, diminutive faith, and petite mind and as such needs to be replaced by something much larger and more authentic.

related posts:God's Politics


underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good morning Revvy Rev,

I do not direct my opinion and questions about Christians at you Rev. You have always conducted youself honorably towards me. What follows is just The U being rhetorical.

I think too often (for me), the message of Christ is diluted by those who seek their own version of conformity. Why are so many Evangelicals who on the surface appear to champion the topic of salvation so invisible in their demonstration to love those that Christ died for?I cannot speak for God but I do not understand how someone who claims, "Christ is my Lord and Savior" is higher on the totem pole than an athiest.

People seem to conveniently forget that the inspired word proclaims, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly."

Four years ago when the former President had begun his second term, Christian Evangelicals flooded the airwaves encouraging their listening audience to" "pray for the President, his administration and America." Where are the Evangelicals now? Why are Christians railing against this President? Why would a Christian speak of overthrowing the American government?I have been in the sanctuaries of both Black and White churches. I have listened to individuals speak about:
1. How to talk
2. How to dress
3. How to act

The principle of relationship (with Christ and my fellow humans) often seems subservient to visual and audible conformity.

Many try to sound and act holy in a perverted attempt to live for Christ.U

Revvy Rev said...

@ The U: I don't disagree with your comments. My point is that not only has Christianity been diluted but distorted. As a result, it is both irrelevant and no longer revered. Maybe it is as it should be. When we worship a particular religion itself rather than the God that it points to, it should die.

Believer said...

Agreed, Christianity doesn't look or act the same. Is that a good thing though? Hmmm. What about God's Remnant Church? Don't we want to be identical to the original saints, disciples, or followers in the Book of Acts?

You mention confining Christianity in a "narrow" way, but that's just what I've read to be true in Matthew 7:13.

Having said that, we all must remember that instead of pointing out the speck in our brother's eye we should be reminded of the plank in our own! Matthew 7.1-5

Love is Jesus' message and what He demonstrated on the cross at Calvary. I hope that many Christians realize that "love never fails" even when we disagree or disapprove.

Peace & Blessings

jjbrock said...

Great post Rev..."Has Christianity become irrelevant for our day"? Certainly some timely thoughts... but I ask Rev.
Why do we Christians want so desperately to be accepted by the world?...To me Rev. that's part of the church problem... Jesus never had an image problem... He went where the world was, to sinners, and He did not apologize for it to anybody... And He did not water down His message to please His religious critics...If that meant meeting the sinner where every they were at ..Reaching out and loving sinners was why He came...Rev.
Jesus didn't bend to an increasingly ungodly culture... Instead, He carried out the plan that was formulated before man even existed...becoming the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world...Rev. I am sorry if I got off track a little but it just irks me and to answer your question No!Christianity has not become irrelevant for our day but I believe we are becoming more irrelevant for this present culture.

Revvy Rev said...

@Annie: Isn't this though, the same controversy Jesus presented the existing Pharasaic church leadership of His day and ultimately led to crucifixion?

Jesus was relevant to the common people who had been disinherited by the church and society, and that the true spirit God had become lost in a lot of rules and the structure of religion. said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Hi there Pastor!

You betta preach this Daddy!!

This is the type of blogging that I have been waiting for among our ministry colleagues! *wide smiles*

One problem that many of our ministry colleagues have not taken accountability for is that they have associated RELIGION with Christianity. Did Christ?

Ahhhhh.... that's another post entirely.

You would not believe how many black church folks are bent out of shape everytime I mount a pulpit and say that Jesus had no intention of having Christianity become a religion.

That statements challenges their definitions of "religion" in a way that makes them deeply uncomfortable.

I love what Annie Brock shared about whether WE ARE the ones who are becomimg irrelevant...not Christianity...but us.

Yes, us... the oh-so-holy ones...So that is also another post... how is it that Kingdom-focused Christians can become irrelevant in society?

Much to think about.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Hagar's Daughter said...

There are so many Christians who seem to disregard that Jesus was never a "Christian" and always remained a practicing Jew. Jesus taught and lived and embodied a different, a new, hermeneutic (interpretation of the religious teaching of his day).

Pastor, I agree that we Christians are called to remember and to live a radical ethic of love. Love in the case means JUSTICE.

The way Christians are interpreting and living Christian tenets are distorted. Narrow is the way because there are so many who choose NOT to stand for justice and to NOT fight oppression. It was not "the world" that "received him not," rather it was the religious world that rejected Jesus.

Sister Annie's statement is a rich one: "Christianity has not become irrelevant for our day but I believe we are becoming more irrelevant for this present culture."

If this is so, which I believe it is, then the follow up question is: In what way are we (Christians) becoming more irrelevant for this present culture. There are many days that I struggle to with the "Christian" identifier/label.

Much to think about.

Peace & Justice.

SjP said...

I think folks confuse being a Christian with religion. Religion, imo, is based on man's interpretation of Christianity. And that's when/where things get all messed up.

MilesPerHour said...

One can claim that I am stuck on just a "buzzword", that being "spirituality'. Religion had it's opportunity to push me away from God with all of it's individual righteousness.

I am a Christian, but have no religion. I agree it should die if distorted.