Linus in his great wisdom instructs Lucy well, sound theology is a great comfort to the mind, but I wonder how that would be written in the 21st century. I try to read a small dose of poetry every day in my quest to understand this complex and powerful form of literature, and this one, “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar was so funny, sad, and true, I had to share it today. Some days it seems there is such a Christianity culture shift going on in our country that Christians themselves are trying to re-write what it means to be a Christian.
The New Hipster Christian
Each generation sort of does this and re-defines how they see the Church and tries to make it their own, which is fine, better to revive and revitalize the church than leave it all together (which many young people have done too). The danger is when we re-write the Gospel message to meet our pop-culture needs, and turn Christianity into our own personal Jesus (as Depeche Mode put it about a decade ago). Christian theology isn’t something a generation can choose to define, it was defined for us, by Jesus himself.
A recent article in Christianity Today by Brett McCracken entitled “Hipster Faith” (also from his book Hipster Christianity) put it so well. This pretty much nails it.
It’s [hipster Christianity] a world where things like the Left Behind book and film series, Jesus fish, and door-to-door evangelism are relevant only as a source of irony or nostalgia. It’s a world where Braveheart youth-pastor analogies are anathema, where everyone agrees that they wish Pat Robertson “weren’t one of us” and shares a collective distaste for the art for Thomas Kinkade. The latest incarnation of a decades-long collision of “cool” and “Christianity” is in large part a rebellion against the very subculture that birthed it.
It’s a rebellion against old-school evangelicalism and its fuddy-duddy legalism, apathy about the arts, and pitiful lack of concern for social justice. It’s about a rebellion against George W. Bush-style Christianity: American flags in chruches, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and evagelical leaders who get too involved in conservative politics, such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell.
They prefer to call themselves “Christ-followers” rather than “Christians.” They cringe at the thought of an altar call, and the prospect of passing out tracts gives them nightmares.
Nothing is inherently wrong there except I do find that the “hipster Christians” do not give anyone the respect they deserve, like the aforementioned Dobson and Falwell, but I don’t see them giving due respect to hardly any of their “elders” per-say. They may disagree with the method (I always hated the thought of door-to-door myself) but much of their theology is very sound. We all far pray to our own culture, it is just part of being alive. You can follow me and my exploits around on Twitter just like you can McCracken, but where do we get our theology today.
Theology, Get it Wherever You Like
So they/we get theology from CCM (Christian Contemporary Music), and the pop-trends of the day. The latest craze that includes us older generations with Glenn Beck (see Beck Wants to Lead, But Will Evangelicals Follow? and a great article by Dr. Russell Moore God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck, and for another look, And Glenn Beck Shall Lead Them). Beck calls for a return to God, and then on Chris Wallace’s program (see video) Beck made it quite clear that he totally understands the Gospel message, and the differences between the LDS Church (Mormon Church) and Christianity. Sometimes it seems that the only ones who can’t see the difference, and there are plenty of differences, are us Christians.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
I guess the question is, who are we looking to for our theological base and teaching, Beck? I don’t want to just pick on Beck, I like his show. While he is a super pop-culture-talking-head and has many good points, should we really be taking our theology from Beck? He would probably even say that’s not a good idea. Luckily, Christians today can go right to the source and skip all the middle men. The unchanging God of Abraham is still there for us. We are the ones who change, not Him.
I was going to post the poem, “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar here as well but this post is too long already, so look for it in the next post shortly.
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