American Christians like to hide our need. We like to act as though we have things together.
But when we do this, we undermine the very gospel that we want to proclaim.
You should read Paul Miller’s article, “I’m Still Here: Back online after a year without the internet.” I have a couple of thoughts and I’m interested in yours.
I’ll stop there, but I’m very interested in your thoughts.
All too often, we sacrifice truth for experience, and this is a growing, dangerous trend in the American church. Out of the desire to avoid doctrinal arguments, we rely only on our own life-story to explain Scripture.
Rather than proclaim Christ incarnated, crucified, risen, and seated (1 Cor 15:1-11), we talk about how the church has improved our lives, broken our “bad habits,” or made us better people. These things are true, but they are not the center of the Gospel. In fact, other groups often do these things as well or better than many churches (see AA, Mormonism, counseling, Neighborhood Clubs, Peace Corps, etc).
Such an attitude towards evangelism and discipleship reduces Christianity to another form of self-fulfillment. It acts as though the Gospel is all about us. I think that such an evangelistic approach springs out of an over-acceptance of the claims of postmodernism. While postmodernism is correct in emphasizing our subjective experience of objective truths, it often over-reaches–valuing such experience (which is limited in scope and context) over objective reality (which is not limited).
So, churches, seeking to avoid division over doctrine, begin to emphasize experience first. This feels good–we’re naturally bent towards narcissism–and it pushes us further away from doctrine and further into ourselves. Eventually, we have divorced ourselves from the Word, from clear truth, and ultimately from the hope that the Gospel gives to those who know the depth of their sin. For such people, hope is not found inside or in our experience. For such people, hope is found in the truth of Scripture. But if the church has abandoned such truth in favor of experience, then the church has nothing to offer hopeless sinners.
So Happy that Christ is Always True,