The American Church: Still Searching.

Good morning friends!

As she does from time to time, Sarah shared with me an article she thought I'd find interesting. She was right, but I have some issues with the premise of the article that I thought I'd share here.

In the article (which I encourage you to read) the authors suggest that most American Evangelicals love Jesus because he grants them access to the Kingdom, but that they don't necessarily love the teachings he gave us. Love the least, pray for enemies, etc. The author at one point even suggests that Jesus preached socialism, which is kind of a stretch. We could spend hours debating back and forth these issues and points, but there is a broader message I think boiling here:

The American Church is still searching for it's identity.

For so long, we knew exactly who we were. We had a system, a flow of things, a rhythm. But in the last 10 or 15 years, it's started to fall apart. We've been presented with questions that we don't really have an answer too. For instance, if America is a Christian nation, and yet the American government is involved in torture, where does that leave us? If God provides everything we need, yet we lean on less-than-stable economic strategies and Wall Street companies, when they fail us we feel like he failed. If you're in one of the mainline denominations as I am, you start to realize that though you haven't done much in terms of change or radical departures from "the plan", people are leaving (or dying) our churches at breakneck speed, leaving us strapped for cash and "critical mass" to get things done.

And I have to say, I'm really disappointed in our response.

Rather than take these questions as an opportunity to explore and learn and dig deep into our faith, we (for the most part, I hesitate to generalize as deeply as this article's authors did with our evangelical brothers and sisters) have turned really really defensive, haven't we? Perhaps the article in question is true in certain aspects, and perhaps evangelicals are running hard and fast from certain teachings of Christ. But the article has a kind of snippy tone that really rubbed me the wrong way. Which, in turn if you visit the comment section, incited some of our evangelical brothers and sisters to develop their own snippy tone, which incited more snippy, which led to, which led to, which led to...

Rob Bell releases a book that dares to ask some questions, and we get snippy.

We see the response of those who have commented on Bell's book, and we get snippy.

Someone wants to change the color of the carpet in the parlor, and we get snippy.

More and more I have a longing for the next reformation. More and more I long for the people who will stand up in our midst and say that enough is enough. No more snippy-ness. No more finger pointing. No more unnecessary anger. I long for the American Church to find its way. And whatever my role in that is, I'm up for that too.

Love to hear your thoughts!