Clinging to “gospel”

Philip Yancey had an interview in Publisher’s Weekly reflecting on his upbringing. I wish I had been a bit quicker to my own realizations like Yancey, or Eugene Peterson. I’m a slow learner.

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The Twitter Gospel

Philip Yancey will usually make me mad and glad all in one column. He does it again in his last CT column. (He says he’s taking a break.)

He adds some thoughts and cautions we REALLY need to hear! (I don’t think we will, but I can only echo his strong voice.)

Although I admire the innovation, I would caution that mimicking cultural trends has a downside. At a recent youth workers conference I attended, worship meant a DJ playing techno music at jet-engine volume while a sweaty audience crowded the stage, jumping up and down while shouting spiritual one-liners. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I couldn’t help questioning the depth of worship. Seminaries now recommend 15-minute sermons in light of shorter attention spans. Publishers want slimmer books, with simpler words and concepts. Will we soon have a 140-character Twitter gospel?

I truly get upset when some church does something like playing music at jet-engine volume and calling themselves cutting edge. Somehow equating volume or other mimicks of this world with true spirituality or “real gospel” misses the point. What are we doing? We’re reduced to bumper sticker Christianity without the bumper stickers.

We have SO MUCH NOISE! Why not have something that offered silence?

We already buy too much stuff, why do we keep marketing CDs and T-shirts? We want to confront consumerism, so we’ll make a radical T-shirt and sell it? What’s that all about?

In the name of all that is holy, will someone please stand up and say that being “counter-cultural” doesn’t mean looking like the prevailing culture? Will someone finally confront these goofy ideas and say, “The only thing ‘counter-cultural’ about you is it’s not like some other CHURCH SERVICE… BIG DEAL!!!!”  Could we please get some guts back in our Christianity?

We need to hear a clear call concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trouble is, we get into arguments about WHAT the gospel really is! Which is probably what makes us evangelical. Too bad.