Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Evangelicalism's Fads and Fixtures

I recently came across this interesting article by Joe Carter, a self-described evangelical. He does not concern himself with passing fads, such as the WWJD, but rather with "faddage that becomes a fixture." He observes--correctly, I think--that once fads become fixtures, they remain unquestioned. Carter has a list of 10, all good.

An excerpt:

#5 Testimonies. Several years ago, during a job interview for a Christian organization, my prospective employer asked me to tell him my “testimony.” The fact that I was a Christian apparently wasn’t enough. I had to have a good conversion story to go along with my faith.

Now you may have a great story about how “the hound of Heaven” chased you down and gnawed on your leg until you surrendered. No doubt your story would make for a gripping movie of the week on Lifetime and lead to the making of numerous converts (see #1). But the harsh truth is that as compelling, and even useful, as your story may be, it is not the most important story you could tell.

You are only a very, very minor character in the narrative; the starring role goes to the Divine Protagonist. In fact, he already has a pretty good story, so why not just tell that one instead?


s-p said...

That's a great article. It is amazing how things become "T"radition for people and they don't even realize it.

Ingemar said...

In my previous Protestant church, they had a custom of having members (especially new or well-known ones) share their testimony.

I was going through their "catechism" and decided this was the straw that would prevent me from becoming a full-fledged member. Most of these testimonies were laboured and contrived ("I grew up in a Christian home but sunk deep into the world" characterized about 80% of them) and didn't want to dress up mine or tell it in the most straightforward, deadpan manner.

I was investigating Orthodoxy, so I went to Divine Liturgies instead. MY testimony? I had participated in Orthodoxy (and even, however imperfectly, Great Lent) for long enough that I decided to get Chrismated.

Testimonies aren't a bad thing; but you can't expect a caged bird to sing.

Dixie said...

Thanks very much for pointing to this article. I didn't read through all the comments for lack of time but I found this one which pretty much characterized my reaction.

Joe: I don't want to worry you, but every single one of your ten points disturbed me throughout my 28-year-long life as an evangelical - and I'm now a Catholic.

Once someone starts seeing these things as they are it becomes more difficult to remain where one is.