Occasionally, I may be guilty of constructing Evangelical straw men, from which I wax sarcastic about the excesses and inanities of American pop-religiosity. Not that this takes any great skill, mind you, given the surfeat of material with which to work. In this season of resolutions, perhaps I should resolve to do better in the coming year. Or not.
But this article--Metro Churches Turn to Technology to Spread the Word--truly troubled me, as I found it sillier and even more offensive than most. (Owen by way of Aaron has previously noted the article.) This story is a familiar one by now. To those who turn a critical eye towards the state of religion in America, many of these evangelical churches became unmoored long ago, and are now far at sea. This newspaper account differs little from countless others I have read in recent years documenting evangelical trendiness....except for one line.
Journalist Malena Lott posits: "If Jesus were alive today, would he Twitter? Have a Facebook profile? Flickr account? Post proof of his miracles on YouTube?" I once heard Zbigniew Brzezinski--not one to suffer even good-natured fools gladly--characterize a question put to him by Joe Scarborough as "stunningly superficial." Ms. Lott's inquiry is worthy of the same treatment. Indeed, it is so light and fluffy that the words are in danger of floating off the page.
The entire line of thought is so patently absurd that I completely missed the real significance of the passage. Ms. Lott begins with If Jesus were alive today. Think about it. I do understand what she is trying to say, namely "If Jesus were physically walking the earth today, etc." But that is not what she said.
Such sloppiness can be excused, perhaps, from a journalist. But then, the person to which the question was addressed--the "online community pastor at LifeChurch.tv"--used the exact same wording in his response. He replied: If Jesus were alive, I don’t think he’d have to use social media...His followers all have mobile phones. They’d be spreading his message for him.
I found it absolutely stunning for a purported Christian pastor to say "if" Jesus were alive today. Everything else in the story is secondary when compared to this unintended statement of faith. That is the whole point of the empty tomb, is it not? This is no quibble over semantics. One cannot equivocate on such matters. The whole point of our Faith is that Jesus Christ is alive, and and the only life we have as Christians is when we lose our lives in His.
Such statements should be expected, I suppose, in churches where The Word has become words on a page, where the Living Christ has became the author of useful moralistic teachings, where cheap sentimentality and"assurance" have replaced any sense of asceticism. I do not see this trend abating at all. It will become increasingly difficult, however, to characterize adherents as anything discernibly Christian.