Yes, life has been beating me up. Yes, I have been on the threshold of giving up on a number of fronts. Yes, I have been deeply betrayed by the remnants, the sorry remnants, of my non-family family. Or is that the other way around? Family non-family? Dysfunctional and “irregular” however you name it.
But here I am, ready to ride into the tourney to do battle with dragons. Because there are always dragons, and Christianity as it is practiced within our society is full of them. In a strange way it segues in perfectly with all that I have struggled with this year, both in discussing theology in the blog and wrestling with personal snares from many who declare their Christian righteousness loudly and proudly. Enter the arena:
The Children’s Crusade, a tragedy waiting to happen
Greg @ Areopagitica ( read how his blog came by its title) wrote up a post on “BattleCry, the nationâ€™s largest and most radical youth crusade“. I took a look at what is everyday fare for my stream of evangelicalism through someone elses eyes. My own tend to glaze with over familiarity.
Let me explain first. I am deeply fanatical about my Christian convictions and devotion. deeply fanatical. I think what I have been spoonfed and sometimes forcefed within the Church is sometimes pablum and sometimes something akin to poison- with the necessary dose of ipecac to get back to the simple and pure gospel of Jesus Christ, what initially saved my soul from death and hell. I have been sandblasted, waterblasted and just plain blasted by so-called Christians who love to levy “So you say you are a Christian” “If you were a real Christian” “If you were honorable” “If you were reputable” or any number of intimidating accusations to question the integrity of my faith. So I am not going to jump on any bandwagons to decry someone’s type of ministry just on the basis of its appeal to my sense of what is Christian. Let’s not continue that dead end, agreed?
I will take a look at what I see as a general trend, and where I think its roots are. To catch you up to speed… the ‘BattleCry’ is just that, a militant call to fight off and throw down the cultural detritus and decaying effects of what Christians call “The World”. Of course one difficulty of this is that we have to live and do commerce in this “World”, so there are quite a few admonitions in the New Testament of how to steer our way through. The problem is that this particular variation of New Crusader takes on “the world, the flesh, and the devil” in Buffy-esque tones of wielding sword and spouting fire in order to combat the evil within. The old methods of Medieval monks of self-flagellation are incorporated as well. The old theologies rise again…..
I can’t totally criticize Ron Luce or the people behind the ‘BattleCry” crusades, because they do have a point about the degraded state of our society. Not the point of Sharlet,
“”real enemies.” The queers and communists, feminists and Muslims, to be sure, but also the entire American cultural apparatus of marketing and merchandising, the “techno-terrorists” of mass media”
“The queers and communists, feminists and Muslims”, no, because this is what the future of Christianity is going to be made up of. What? You think God has forgotten or rejected these? He came to save us, all, and that means plenty of those former appellations. The degraded state is within, friends, it is what our children are experiencing within the confines of their churches, in their schools, on their TV’s, and the dirt is starting to get to some of them. When you get to that phase, you know the urge to clean up is gaining momentum. That is half of what I think we are seeing. The anger might get directed towards “The World” but it gets its fuel for the engine from the worldliness in our own ranks. Face that. And then it wouldn’t hurt to weep just for a short time.
I think real weeping is in short supply in the Christian community. Anger we’ve got plenty of, and I am a good example of that fact. Weeping over what we have wasted and lost and how far we are from the truth of Christ… that is what will get us a truly fanatical Christianity that is worth living and dying for, Because God takes pity on the contrite, and we need God’s pity to put us again on the right way.
But that isn’t the direction of this crusade is it? You can almost hear the derisive laughter of Sharlet as he licks his lips while writing,”twenty-one-year-old MC twitches taut a chain across the ass of her skintight red jeans and summons the followers to show off their best dance moves for God”. And is it deserved? Yes, I daresay it is… he nailed it, and we better face it. Like Buffy, they hope that they will stake the heart of their sins with other “worldly means”. A look at actual theology will tell them differently: “The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal”. Dancing on the devil comes after the battle of prayers and temperance are practiced, not before. Hearing the Word of the Lord, not the saleman’s frenzied shouting.
But it is not so exciting… or familiar.
The He-Man Christian Swings in the Jungle Again
The reactionary response to the culture is not the only root of this, however. There is a strong infusion of the backlash of “Traditional” cultural Christianity as well. This chest thumping, misplaced militaristic, testosterone filled venue comes straight from the gender debate in the pulpits and the theologians du jour. They want “real men” in the pews and women who know their place, and nicely dressed exemplary children. I mean isn’t that what we have studied and worked for in our ranks? Whitewashed sepulchers that many of us are (and I won’t water this down with apologies to those who exalt cleancut looks and image worthy portfolios- Cleaning the outside of cup while filling it with all sorts o stinking death still is not acceptable).
And here it is, Ladies and Gentlemen!
“I want an attacking church!” he shouts, his normally smooth tones raw and desperate and alarming. He isn’t just looking for followers — he wants “stalkers” who’ll bring a criminal passion to their pursuit of godliness.
They just don’t know what to attack or how… and woe to those in their path. These “He-Men Christians”.
Do I want to see right balance in the Church? Most certainly. But where are the basics of the Love of God through Christ Jesus? Right the imbalance of the Jezebels and the Pharisees, of hypocritical men and women…. right those balances and be the balance of their counters in our midst. Expose them through the exposure to what is good and light and salt.
Sing, dance, play loud music along with that, if you want to, because frankly I enjoy that. Be fanatical for the good, fanatically humble and forthright. Take on the criticisms and overcome the enmity with continuing with what you know to be right, but don’t mistake the window dressing for the substance. And I think Jeff Sharlet got it right when he pulled the curtain back on that.
=====now for extra points:
Greg wondered “how many biblical inconsistencies can you find in the above paragraph?”
Check into his post to see which paragraph he meant- and we can have another post just on that:)