Tuesday, July 31, 2007
BAD THEOLOGY, BAD MARKETING, OR BOTH?
Certain parts of modern Christianity are a turn off, even to Christians. The way that modern Christianity is marketed is one of them. Christianity is not projected to the world as a radical commitment to a man who claimed to be God.
Instead, the faith is portrayed as an easy-out. It is marketed to the world as a life-choice, not a life-abandoning faith. The faith is reduced to a Heaven/Hell choice, as if Jesus came and suffered death so we can be happy when we die. But this is not the Biblical gospel. The good news (gospel) is the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven - now, not later. We are called into a relationship with God, not to flock to a person who guarantees our place in Heaven. This is the true message of the New Testament, and can only be manipulated to say otherwise.
The testament of Christ's death is one of passion, suffering. It's not easy, for Christ or for us. Discipleship is a commitment of life - at any and all costs. It is not casual. In fact, the New Testament preaches against casual Christianity in Revelation 3, in John's letter to Laodicea. Following Christ is not a part time job; it is not a religion to enhance our lives. Christianity is a call to abandon our lives, our hopes, our ambitions, and seek first the Kingdom of God. It is a call to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to show mercy, and to seek peace. At any and all costs.
The Early Church often faced persecution from rulers and polities, which sifted and reduced the faith to only the faithful. Christians in America have forgotten that faithfulness is more important part of the faith called for in the New Testament.
Jesus, himself, turned away those who refused to be wholly committed to him (Luke 14:26-27). Why does the Church not do the same today?
It would save people who call themselves Christians from diluting the faith to an over-simplistic get-out-of-Hell-free card - who in the process, completely change the message of the New Testament for the sake of filling churches and increasing the percentage of people in America who call themselves Christians.
I find the shirts above offensive. I not only take offense to their appeal to American pop culture to market Christianity. But moreover, I find offense in what they portray the Christian faith to be. In the first picture, Jesus' death is portrayed rather comedically; the second portrays Christianity as an easy way of life; while the last reduces Christianity to a simple choice of residence in a life after death.
What would Jesus think?