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Christianity conforming to the culture
October 1, 2012
"The problem comes when the church is so conformed to the values of the world that it offers no real alternative to the ruling societal values" (p 65). I agree - but this author doesn't have a clue as to who the real "conformists" are.
He says a "revival" is taking place among American Christians, but he defines "revival" as "Christians supporting the political Left." The only purpose a person's "conversion" or "renewal of faith" serves is to make that person a liberal activist. "Two of the great hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice" (p 12), but for him that amounts to just one hunger, since the "spirituality" only exists to create activists for "justice" as the left defines it.
For him, the main purpose of faith is "to transform the world here and now" (p 54), and is done through political activism. He cannot conceive that a person transformed inwardly will have a positive effect on the world - being more considerate to his family, co-workers, his neighborhood, etc. "Love thy neighbor" is never applied to one-on-one situations, but to whichever minority group is agitating the loudest. On p 56 says that the sayings of Jesus such as "love your enemies" and "blessed are the peacemakers" are commands for political involvement, since he cannot conceive that those words might have anything to do with an individual's own personal relations. Someone who works to end a quarrel between two family members or co-workers is putting "blessed are the peacemakers" into action, but for the liberal, "blessed are the peacemakers" means "vote for candidates who promise to cut the U.S. military." This is a cheap form of religion, demanding no sacrifice on the believer's part. It is all talk, gestures, posing.
On p 60, he talks about how the Old Testament prophets preached the need to show kindness to widows and orphans, strangers, and enemies, then he puts a "spin" on these categories: being kind to "widows and orphans" means promoting feminism; being kind to "strangers" means encouraging illegal immigration; being kind to "enemies" means cutting back our military and caving in to terrorists.
Not only does he "spin" the Bible, but also twists the meaning of words in the Greek New Testament. On p 61 he says the Greek word metanoia means "transformation," when in fact the Greek word for transformation is metamorphosis. Metanoia literally means "change of mind," but it's usually translated "repentance," and it definitely refers to something that happens to an individual. But for him, metanoia does not apply to the individual (although in the Gospels it clearly does) but to a whole new political order. Being "born again" means "join in with our political side."
"In all my growing up years in our evangelical church, I never heard a sermon on the Sermon on the Mount" (p 63). That is hard to believe. There is NO church anywhere, certainly not an evangelical one, where the pastor has not preached on the Sermon, one of the most important and most-quoted parts of the Bible.
"The problem comes when the church is so conformed to the values of the world that it offers no real alternative to the ruling societal values" (p 65). Truer words were never spoken - but this author doesn't see the obvious: liberalism IS conforming to the "ruling societal values," which tell us that: only material things matter, group identity is more important than any individual, groups who identify as "victims" deserve special treatment), spiritual things matter little or not at all. The "ruling societial values" are exactly what he supports: feminism, preferential treatment for minorities, encouraging illegal immigration, supporting same-sex "marriage," spending huge sums on "green" projects, "combating" global warming (despite the revelations of "Climategate" that scientists aren't exactly unanimous about the issue), extending welfare to as many people as possible, bleeding American taxpayers dry by doling out foreign aid to poor countries where the money ends up in the pockets of thug dictators.
Throughout the book he tosses around the phrase "the common good," which sounds like something wonderful, but for him it means enlarging the welfare state. He never pauses to consider that, diverse as America is, it is impossible that we would ever agree on what "the common good" is.
He raves on and on about Bono, lead singer of the rock group U2, the group that constantly urges countries to raise taxes so as to spend more on welfare, even though, oddly, U2 moved its corporate office from Ireland to the Netherlands to take advantage of lower taxes.
The book is so repetitive it could've been edited down to 50 pages. Over and over again: "A revival is coming." "The Religious Right is dead." "People are tired of divisive politics." "People are hungering for the spiritual." And on and on and on. The author has nothing new to say, and so many words to say it.
Poorly written, poorly worded, poor evidence. Even $0.10 would too much to pay! And worse yet it wasted my time looking for data to substantiate this author's claims. The author's claim to being a writer and speaker reminds me of the Bible mentioning itchy ear preachers. Even if I agree or disagree with his specific conclusions I would still expect him to substantiate his claims with some sort of evidence. He did not.
No wonder the price has gone down substantially. But even $0.10 would be too much to pay! And worse yet it wasted my time looking for data to substantiate this author's claims. The author's claim to being a writer and speaker reminds me of the Bible mentioning itchy ear preachers. Even if I agree or disagree with his specific conclusions I would still expect him to substantiate his claims with some sort of evidence. He did not.
Another great book by Jim Wallis after his book Gods Politics. Since I have become a Christian, I always thought that Christians shouldnt in politics, but the book opened my mind.Politics is not dirty but politicians are. The problem is not from politics but from politicians. If we have strong faith in Jesus Christ, we can change it. With single faith, we can transform a nation.And, the book also tells me what is the relationship between Christianity and our environment, Christianity and poverty and Christianity and different race and culture.The summary is, everything in the world is created by God. They are Gods. We are only stewards. We have to take care of everything in the world.
I urge you to read this book. Jim Wallis makes a convincing case that something is happening which could lead to a further Great Awakening! When Christians become aware of the need to fight injustice and protect the weak and vulnerable they have often seen the world change! Our belief may determine our destination but must also produce action not inaction in our lives as a result. At the heart of it is his profound belief in a God of justice, and we are expected to be the agents of change. He gives a new relevance to the story in Genesis by relating it to stewardship and the fact that God has provided enough for ALL:I dont think God is going to ask us how he created the earth, but he will ask what we did with what he created. Wallis says that the Common Good should be the basis of any public policy and the treatment of the weak and powerless, central.You may or may not agree with all that Wallis says but this book required reading for those who say that religion and politics do not mix. He is clear that political we must be; party political we cannot be as a body. For those who, like me, have viewed with concern the Religious Right in America he gives hope because he says that there is now developing a concern and consensus which transcends party or political stance or even religious background or tradition: resulting from a commitment to the vulnerable or poor or disadvantaged. 3 billion people live on less than one US dollar a day, millions are dying in the AIDS pandemic and millions in the richest country of the world do not have access to health care. Wallis says that it is when we cross the line and say that this is unacceptable and make the connection between spirituality and social justice our perception of what is then possible will inevitably change. This is an optimistic book. His advice is to take care of your faith, take care of each other, take care of your hope and stay with the vision.