Evangelical culture in a nutshell

Feeriker had an interesting comment on the previous post on 10 Christian Dating Principles That Could Transform Lives.

“The same is true of “book culture” which is prevalent in Evangelical Christianity (and I’m sure it’s not just limited to that). “Book culture” is the tendency for people to read books about the Bible and interpretations about the Bible and spiritual things instead of reading the Bible itself.”

I’m almost tempted at this point to say that “Book Culture” is Evangelical Christianity. Almost all evangelical doctrine and practice seems to derive from one-off books by popular theologians and authors whose works only tangentially touch on actual Scripture. Why is this?

Short answer: the typical congregant of an evangelical church tends to be very poorly educated in general and seriously lacking in the fundamental critical thinking skills necessary to process Scriptural texts’ plain meaning. “Book Culture” is a way of making the Bible tasty and digestible for people too spiritually and intellectually immature to eat solid spiritual food.

TL;DR version: [WHINE]”the Bible is too hard to understand! [/WHINE]

Certainly true, to a large extent.

If we were coming up with one liners to represent modern churchianity they would be:

  • Church: “Are you not entertained?!”
  • Church: “You get grace. And you get grace. And you get grace… everyone gets grace!”
  • Church: “Jesus wants you to be happy!”
  • Christian: “Have you read that new book on heaven? It opened my eyes!”
  • Christian: “God told me to [insert something about their feelings]”

Any of my other readers have some good ones?

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27 Responses to Evangelical culture in a nutshell

  1. shredifier says:

    Lol 😁
    That was a good comment
    I wonder how many of us can identify which movies those quotes came from!

  2. Pingback: Evangelical culture in a nutshell – Manosphere.org

  3. SnapperTrx says:

    Found on a church sign near my office: “Drama free fellowship.”
    Translation: “Come in, we won’t hold you accountable to anything!”

  4. Oops. I forgot to add something about relevance.

    “Our messages are culturally relevant!”

  5. feeriker says:

    One that seems popular on church message signs to the point of becoming clichè is a variation of “Wanted: imperfect people to join us for Sunday worship. Perfect people need not apply.” Pretty much translatable as SnapperTrx cites above.

    It’s both maddening and tragic that evangelical churches feel convinced that they have to dumb their message down to the level of the culture in order to be relevant. It never seems to occur to anyone in a position of leadership (or, perhaps more horrifyingly, “leadership” isn’t spiritually attuned or astute enough to realize) that more of the culture is the LAST thing that spiritually hungry and thirsty people want or need. If the culture satisfied such want, why on earth would such people bother with church? If church is just the culture with a Jesus sticker slapped on it, then there is indeed no point to it at all. Most unsaved people realize this, which is why the evangelicsl movement will continue to provide writers of satire and standup comedians with ample raw material for the foreseeable future while continuing to offer nothing but spiritual junk food.

  6. feeriker says:

    Related idea: how to paralyze and shut down an evangelical church.

    1. Take away the projector, laptop, Powerpoint program, and internet connection

    2. Steal the worship band’s instruments and the sound system

  7. shredifier says:

    Unless I’m missing something that I can’t actually see, I think that cliché is very true and applicable in today’s world
    Too often legalistic “christians” in their prideful arrogance look down with disdain at everyone around them, thinking themselves sinless and without faults……so it’s nice to see churches that advertise that you don’t have to be perfect in order to be accepted into their fellowship
    I for one see nothing wrong with this

  8. Moi says:

    Do you give a first grader “war and peace”, or “green eggs and ham”?

    I agree that the actual scripture is where you’d like people to be. But some people need the extra help. I don’t see why that is so wrong.

  9. shredifier says:

    I kinda have to agree…..some christians are still on the milk of the word and cannot stomach “meat” of the word yet
    The danger is when we start substituting the word of God for the opinions of men in these so called spiritual books, discernment is needed

  10. @ Moi, Shredifier

    The “milk” of the Bible is generally considered the gospel of John and Mark. Those are the straight forward. A lesser extent is Luke which was written for Gentiles and Matthew which was written for the Jewish.

    Acts and Romans are also fairly straight forward as well.

    The thing most new Christians need to hear the most is more knowledge on the gospel message and the life of Jesus and His instruction. Not books about the Scripture.

  11. feeriker says:

    The thing most new Christians need to hear the most is more knowledge on the gospel message and the life of Jesus and His instruction. Not books about the Scripture.

    Amen. Exactly.

    I don’t have any problem at all with simplifying those parts of the Bible of greater complexity in order to make their messages more comprehensible for new believers who don’t have the grounding in Scripture to grasp all of the key tenets. However, as you’ve pointed out, the problem is that most believers aren’t even getting milk from their evangelical “Bible studies,” to say nothing of meat. They’re getting soda pop (i.e., churchian Oprah Book of the Month Club offerings). Even more tragically, those few people who do respond to evangelical outreach and who do accept Jesus as their Savior are very often “abandoned at birth,” never geting either follow-up spiritual mentoring or “spiritual milk” with assistance of a nurser (i.e., a committed Christ follower who should be serving as a spiritual mentor to the new believer in their formative stages of adopting the Faith).

  12. Jacob says:

    This general hostility to the Evangelical Church may be warranted when looking at the whole, but there are also some exceptionally well-taught evangelical Christians in many evangelical churches who know the Bible well. A problem, however, is that the Bible-believing evangelical college communities from which they come are saturated with bookish intellectuals who approach the Bible as a textbook more than the Word of God. Many of these are strongly Calvinistic and adherents of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. When this academic-level theology reaches the congregations, the teaching culture becomes more about the ‘Father, Son and Holy Bible‘ than Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The result is often that the congregations have rich knowledge ABOUT Jesus but poor knowledge OF Him. This is spiritual poverty. It’s easy to switch off if even strongly Biblical theology is too hard to take on board in a daily, growing way. Churchianity may well be the result of this also.

  13. feeriker says:

    Related to the topic under discussion, I came across this page this evening. A fascinating read:

    http://www.tektonics.org/gk/indictment.php

  14. Avraham rosenblum says:

    great essay.

  15. Avraham rosenblum says:

    I have seen a lot of effort put out to see how to understand and keep the OT in rigorous detail. The Christian world used to have something like this in the Middle Ages but that era is over.
    That is it is possible to come up with a rigorous approach to the OT on ts own terms and to keep it. this is in fact what some people do even nowadays. I have not heard that this is supposed to be impossible. However in the Christian world during the Middle Ages they were interested in the OT and the NT together but still had the same problem of coming up with a self consistent approach.
    That means an approach that would take into account the entire two books and account for all seeming contradictions. That was done by Aquinas.

  16. @ Jacob

    Of course, in some sense. 1 John 4 gives instruction on prayer, particularly in discerning spirits.

    The command is that we preach the gospel, baptize in the name of the trinity, make disciples, and bear good fruit. There’s definitely Christians who don’t believe in anything “spirit filled” who are doing these things. Maybe ironic, but they are following Jesus’ commands.

  17. Elspeth says:

    Question: “How ya doing?”

    Christian: “Blessed and highly favored!”

    The facade must hold. No matter what is actually happening in your life. And heaven forbid you confess a struggle.

  18. feeriker says:

    The facade must hold. No matter what is actually happening in your life. And heaven forbid you confess a struggle.

    Yep. Confess a struggle or burden to anyone at church and one of the following happens:

    1. Become fodder for the gossip er, “prayer request” chain.

    2. Be told to ruck up and stop whining (although not in those exact words) and be of good cheer because “Jesus is coming soon.”

    3. Get strange or confused looks before having the subject changed on you.

    4. Have it laughed off as being something trivial (after all, Jesus is coming soon).

  19. donalgraeme says:

    As someone who is not an EC, I appreciate the window into the culture you folks are providing. Thanks.

  20. @ donalgraeme

    To be fair, there are some good points, but it’s mired in distractions, focus on the wrong things, lack of discipleship, etc.

    The sad thing is that the EC tends to do well with evangelism… but to other countries. It does a very poor job to where we are at, namely because of lack of making disciples and standing out differently from the culture.

  21. donalgraeme says:

    @ DS

    Fascinatingly enough, the evangelical angle applies to Catholicism as well. Flourishing in Asia and Africa, but not at “home.” A lot of that is culture, IMO. Both “church culture” and “home culture.”

  22. Out of Nod says:

    I read this on Dalrock’s blog about a month ago and I think it’s relevant here:

    “The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship (a.k.a. book culture). Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.” – Soren Kierkegaards, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

  23. @ Out of Nod

    Yeah, I read that. Quite an astute observation.

  24. Elspeth says:

    Voddie Baucham compares American Evangelicalism to Biblical Christianity:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=228161311382

    Very good message.

  25. Coastal says:

    Related – a rather interesting read that was just published yesterday:

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/08/22/the-feminization-of-christianity/

  26. Looking Glass says:

    @Coastals:

    It’s explains very much why Theology ends up so malleable. Uphold consistency isn’t something Women excel at.

  27. shredifier says:

    Out of Nod. ….interesting comment from Soren Kierkegaard. It’s got me thinking a lot about the influx of culture in general towards Christianity and how threatening the New Testament is to our “modern lifestyles”
    Here’s the thing, you can’t eliminate culture without the people that make up the culture, as the influence is too ingrained. The only way to do it properly is to:
    1 destroy your t.v
    2 destroy all of your music
    3 get rid of all your stereos and radios
    4 burn all your movies
    5 destroy your ps3/ps4 consoles
    6 destroy your xbox360/xbox one
    7 destroy all games
    8 throw away all your books
    9 destroy all pictures
    10 throw away all your alcohol
    11 eliminate all caffeine and tea from your diet
    12 stop going to secular places
    13 only have Christian friends
    14 give all the rest of your possessions to the poor
    15 spend 8 hours a day praying and reading the bible

    If we were to be totally honest and consistent with what the Bible demands of us we would have to do my entire list above and then some

    Now tell me, are there any Christian’s prepared to do that? If there is tell me about them and go join them and live your cloistered lives as true disciples of Jesus
    If you were brutally honest with yourselves this is THE ONLY way to avoid the influx of culture on Christianity but here’s the kicker, good luck in finding any Christian’s willing to live like that
    Those willing to live by my above mentioned list represent less than .3% of all Christian’s that have ever lived

    Moral of my comment? We need to stop being hypocrites and placing burdens on others we could possibly never live up to ourselves and realize that it’s impossible to eliminate culture from making inroads into Christianity

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