Monday, January 24, 2005

The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience - Books & Culture

Ron Sider asks, "Why don't Christians live what they preach?" in Christianity Today
Not surprisingly, the movement's numbers translated into political influence. And the renewal movement was so confident of its beliefs and claims that it persuaded the nation's top political leader to have the government work more closely with religious social service organizations to solve the nation's horrendous social problems. Members of the renewal movement knew that miraculous moral transformation of character frequently happened when broken persons embraced the great religion. They also lobbied politicians to strengthen the traditional definition of marriage because their ancient texts taught that a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman was at the center of the Creator's design for the family.

Then the pollsters started conducting scientific polls of the general population. In spite of the renewal movement's proud claims to miraculous transformation, the polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses just as often as their secular neighbors. They beat their wives as often as their neighbors. They were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their pagan friends. The hard-core skeptics smiled in cynical amusement at this blatant hypocrisy. The general population was puzzled and disgusted. Many of the renewal movement's leaders simply stepped up the tempo of their now enormously successful, highly sophisticated promotional programs. Others wept.

This, alas, is roughly the situation of Western or at least American evangelicalism today.

Scandalous behavior is rapidly destroying American Christianity. By their daily activity, most "Christians" regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate allegiance to money, sex, and self-fulfillment.

The findings in numerous national polls conducted by highly respected pollsters like The Gallup Organization and The Barna Group are simply shocking. "Gallup and Barna," laments evangelical theologian Michael Horton, "hand us survey after survey demonstrating that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general."1 Divorce is more common among "born-again" Christians than in the general American population. Only 6 percent of evangelicals tithe. White evangelicals are the most likely people to object to neighbors of another race. Josh McDowell has pointed out that the sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only a little less outrageous than that of their nonevangelical peers.

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Anonymous said...

Casting stones at conventional Christians is not going to make emerging people look any better. What you are doing is showing extreme prejudice toward a complete mass of denominational and non-denominational human beings who make mistakes just like you. I'm sure you have sinned once or twice in your lifetime also.

Not everybody who is Christian is divorced and not everybody who is Christian are out lobbying politicians. (Frankly, I can't afford it.)

The Apostle Paul was a successful busnessman. It's not the matter of making money, it's how you use it. Many times when Jesus was talking about money, he was attributing it to faith.

As far as teenage sex.... I remember my teenage years. (I'm 49 now.) My hormones were raging! I was brought up Christian, was in middle of the Jesus People Movement, had bible study and prayer groups at our secular school. Etc, Etc Etc.... I would look at a guy and go crazy! I'm certain this is why people married young once upon a time. My attraction to the opposite sex wasn't my beliefs or upbringing, it was my hormones. Fortunately, when my 24 year old daughter and 17 year old son came into that hormonal age, I didn't deceive them into believing them that were BAD for being attracted to the opposite sex, just human. It takes a lot of self discipline a great amount a self esteem to refrain from an intimate relationship in your teen years.

My van is an 88 Chevy Astro, my home is modest, yestereday I spent the day working at church (in the fellowship hall and kitchen) so the elderly members of our congregation could celebrate the life of a dear friend of their's. I haven't bought an outfit since 2003 and that was only because my daughter was getting married. I really don't have too much to be hyporcritical about.

One thing I don't do is look at the people in my church who chose a different lifestyle than I did and put them down. Casting stones was also an area that Jesus didn't care for.

Look good on you own merit. People will admire you more for that.