In these churches, Christian orthodoxy is not jettisoned, but it is tailored for the new consumer audience, which is one much given to spirituality shorn of theology, one stripped of much of its cognitive structure. Messages are preached with civility and they are more user-friendly than they used to be. Their effectiveness is judged by their “market value” (that is, their practical usefulness). God is much friendlier, too. Gone are the notes of judgment, though these are more displaced then denied, and they are replaced by those of love and acceptance. God, in one such message, was presented as the one “who loves you, is proud of you, believes in you, and will give you strength to stand up to the forces of evil in the world.” Sin is preached but is presented more in terms of how it “harms the individual, rather than how it offends a hold God. Sin, in short, prevents us from realizing our full potential.” Conversion is insisted upon but then, paradoxically, it is the this-worldly benefits that are accentuated, the practical benefits of knowing Christ receiving all the attention with scarcely a look at what happens if we turn away from him. To turn away from him, Hybels says, leaves that person not so much under God’s judgment as unfulfilled. Thus the exclusive message of classical evangelicalism is maintained but parts of it are de-emphasized and parts are transformed to make the adjustment to this consumer-driven and therapeutically-defined culture. Evangelicalism is now presented “in the friendly guise of an egalitarian, fulfillment-enhancing, fun, religious encounter with God” And is this not sailing dangerously close to adapting the gospel to the postmodern disposition for the sake of success, adapting it to those yearning for the sacred without addressing what stands in the way to knowing God? When Paul wrote to the Galatians, whom he had to rebuke, he was painfully aware of the temptation to soften the gospel. He firmly rejected the desire to “please men” because, he said, if “I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
David Wells, The Seeker Movement p. 305-306
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Seeker Movement
By Damian Romano