Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Evangelical Christianity without the Christianity

An interesting article in The New Republic suggests that an increasing number of evangelicals are moving to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though I have not seen any evidence that this is happening in any great numbers, such a trend would in some ways reflect my own spiritual experience, and therefore it is not surprising to me.

To be frank, the dominant forms of conservative Christianity prevalent in the United States today do not want people like me. Too frequently, the churches are characterized by what might be termed as evangelical Christianity without the Christianity. That is, evangelicalism is now more about a certain style and sentimentality than a coherent set of beliefs about God. And evangelical churches want people who emote. They don't care about people who think. They don't exist "to glorify God and enjoy him forever." Their primary goal and measure of success involves the numbers of butts in seats.

Those factors have led me away from the Baptist churches that I grew up in -- and once held leadership roles in -- and into a rather traditional Presbyterian Church. Some of that change is theological. However, much of it results from a sense of boredom and discontent with vacuous church services featuring the ad nauseum repetition of shallow choruses and smarmy pep talks from the minister. What is lacking in modern evangelical churches is a sense of the majesty of God. The Lord now resides in the hip pocket of the one with the unfortunate title "worship leader."

Because the basic doctrinal beliefs -- when known -- of the leaders of the evangelical megachurches are fairly traditional (scripture is authoritative, Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead, etc.), many fail to notice how truly radical these churches are. Not only have they jettisoned the importance of Christian heritage, they have fundamentally altered the center of the church's mission. No longer is Christ at the center of the church's mission. People, especially those termed seekers, have replaced God as the central point of worship.

Hat Tip: World Mag Blog

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