Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, June 10, 2007

No More Christians, Videos to Start a Conversation

Community Christian Church has produced a series of fairly humorous videos available on the internet. The first one I was introduced to was the parody of the PC vs. Mac ads. In which the nerdy guy is the Christian with a pile of books and the cool guy is the Christ Follower”. The Christian asks the Christ Follower if he wants to see the Christian’s bumper stickers which he has inside his coat because his car is full. He then asks the Christ follower “so what do you wear to display your Christianity?” Christ Follower answers; “Well, nothing I guess, I don’t know I just try to follow Christ in the way I live my life, I don’t feel I have to wear my heart on my sleeve so to speak”. The Christian then mocks the Christ Follower until the Christian mocking repeats “I am a dork”

The message in the video to me is that what we do is more important then what we say about ourselves. The Video ends with the logo which says “Christian No More.” The problem comes at the explanation of "Christian No More". In simple terms they want to rid the world of the historic term Christian because in many places Christian is merely a cultural word and many people practice their Christian faith without much conviction. From the Website:

The Difference between a Christian and a Christ-follower
By Dave Ferguson

Here are some thought provoking words from the book, Jesus with Dirty Feet. “Jesus was not a Christian. He never asked anyone to become a Christian, never built a steepled building, never drew up a theological treatise, never took an offering, never wore religious garments, never incorporated for tax purposes. He simply called people to follow him.”

When the Barna Research Group did a survey of 152 separate items comparing the general population with those people who called themselves Christians, they found virtually no difference. Ugh! They found no difference in the attitudes of Christians and non-Christians and they found no difference in the actions of Christians and non-Christians. That is the contemporary working definition of the title “Christian”. Do you understand what it means to the rest of the world to call yourself a “Christian”? And, is a “Christian” what you want to describe your willingness to sacrifice everything you have to see God’s dream fulfilled? Not me!

If you call yourself a Christian, I want you to stop! Seriously, I hope you will never again call yourself a Christian. Maybe not what you were expecting? It is exactly what you and the church need – forget ever being a Christian again. And secondly, if you have ever encouraged someone to become a Christian I want to ask you to never do that again! I’m dead serious. I hope you will never again ask a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor to become a Christian. Why? Because the last thing the mission of Jesus Christ needs are more Christians!

Here are the brutal facts (and it pains me to say this because I really don’t like being this negative…but the truth hurts.): 85% of the people in the United States call themselves Christians. Now, let’s pause long enough to realize that’s a whole lot of people: 247 million people to be exact. But how are those 85% doing in accomplishing the Jesus mission?

  • Research tells us among people in North America who call themselves Christians that a Christian is no more likely to give money to a homeless person on the street than a non-Christian.
  • Those who call themselves Christians are no more likely to correct a mistake if the cashier gives them too much change than a non-Christian.
  • A Christian is just as likely to have an elective abortion as non-Christian.
  • A Christian divorces at the same rate as those who consider themselves non-Christians.
  • Even though there are more, big churches than ever before filled with people who proudly wear the title Christian, 50% of Christian churches didn’t help one single person find salvation.

I no longer call myself a Christian. I no longer try to convert people to Christianity. I’m done with that. The word “Christian” has been tarnished. It’s not so much because the title is wrong, but because as a label it has now come to mean something far different than what it means to follow Jesus. Being a “Christian” has been reduced to the expectation of nice-ness. How pathetic. How boring. How easy. How insignificant. And even that expectation of nice-ness doesn’t have to be fulfilled because the greater expectation is hypocrisy – the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not live out. Who would want to be that!?!

I am a Christ Follower. I follow Jesus. And I follow Jesus step for step as His Spirit moves me and His community called the Church. When Jesus steps, I follow. When Jesus speeds up – I increase my pace. When Jesus slows down – I slow down. The direction; the speed and the entire velocity of my life are determined by moving at the speed of Jesus’ Spirit. Simple. Clear. Not easy!

The concept of abandoning a historic word which means follower of Christ for a new term which means “Christ Follower” is the height of absurdity. What this campaign is probably about is that the media has portrayed Christians as mainly a political entity that is hypocritical and forces the country to follow their political agenda. That is certainly the emphasis for quite some time for some examples you can read my article Election Enlightenment and the World to Come The use of statistics as most of us know is often problematic. For instance note the first bulleted statement where Christians are no more likely to give money to homeless people as non Christians. This really means nothing because there are so many frauds who beg for money that it is unwise for most people to give beggars money. Since there is no way of knowing if you are simply giving money to be wasted on drugs or alcohol, two of the major reasons for homelessness, giving money may not be doing anyone any good. What the statistics don’t note is that Christians do give more to charities and those organizations in turn help the homeless etc.

From the Barna Group Article: American Lifestyles Mix Compassion and Self-Oriented Behavior

The Role of Faith

Faith commitments sometimes play a role in what people do - but less often than might be assumed. In comparing the lifestyle choices of born again Christians to the national norms, there were more areas of similarity than distinction. (Note that in Barna surveys, the born again segment is not based upon whether a person uses that label, but based upon their profession of faith in Christ and confession of personal sin.) Born again Christians are more likely to volunteer for their church; however, they are no more likely than average to help the poor and homeless. Born again Christians were also among the least likely groups to recycle.

In evaluating 15 moral behaviors, born again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born again adults on most of the behaviors studied. They are less likely to view sexually explicit movies and magazines, to use profanity in public, and to buy a lottery ticket. However, even in these cases, the gap between born agains and the norm is not wide - roughly one-third of the non-born again audience say they had engaged in the three activities compared to one-quarter of born again Christians.

The fourth area of difference is the lower rate of music piracy among born again Christians (2% versus 9% among non-born agains).

What is interesting is just how perceptions play such a large part in any poll. Speaking of the recycling issue Barna Group wrote in the article that the "Americans think of themselves as recyclers. The most commonly practiced of the 20 activities is recycling some used product or material. Three-quarters of Americans have done this in the past month (74%)." Most of us a quite aware of how few things we really recycle yet because most Garbage Disposal companies provide recycle bins with the garbage service Americans feel they are recyclers. I have little doubt that the most sincere environmentalists would not class these people as recyclers. This is a similar concept that we see in the Community Christian Churches article about Christians.

The answer is not to discard the word Christian but to practice the concepts of Christianity. Never cave into the secular media’s propaganda that Christians are hypocrites and uneducated buffoons. As Bill O’Reilly has well stated we are in a culture war with “Secular Progressives” and if you allow them to define the terms it matters little what you believe because it will be reinterpreted for other purposes.

I like the video’s and will probably try to use some of them in our Youth department. Videos are an art form and as such subject to various interpretations so they can very legitimately be used even if the ideas behind them are shortsighted. Take some time to check out their other videos.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on the money, thought provoking, logical and well put, thank you. Bruce