By Aaron Daffern
What is your world view? Through what lens do you view reality? How do you process the human condition? Does life make sense? Do all things work out for the best? Is humanity basically good or evil? What is the cause of hurt, suffering, pain, and tyranny? How you consciously or subconsciously answer these questions will shape your world view.
For believers today, there are myriads of competing world views that are striving to conquer all Christendom like the crusades of a millennium ago. Just walk into your local neighborhood Lifeway store and you’ll be assaulted with what I like to call “marketable” Christianity.
The proper reverence for God, morals to live by, and contemporary missiology can be yours for $69.99 with the purchase of your brand-new study bible with imitation leather cover (name engraving available at the customer service counter). I bet that over 50% of the people that will read this blog own a study bible that has been purchased within the last five years.
Do you remember how the Pharisees went bad in Jesus time? Their scribes, in copying the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy) for the next generation, would write study notes off to the side to properly interpret the scriptures for the average layperson.
In succeeding centuries these notes became cannonized (Talmud) and were given as much or more weight than Holy inspired text. If we think that we have learned from the follies of a group of religious leaders that were so castigated by our Lord and Savior, pay attention during your next Sunday School class or Life Group. Count the number of times that you hear the phrase “My study bible says” or “According to my study bible.” You’ll probably want to wear sandals as you’ll have to count past ten.
Marketable Christianity is fluid. Today you can buy a Sportsman’s Study Bible (camoflauge cover), Graduate’s Bible, Apologetics Study Bible, Police Officer’s Bible, Firefighter’s Bible, and much, much more. These options will probably change over the years. I’m sure within 15 years we’ll see the Secretary’s Study Bible, Aeronautical Engineer’s Study Bible, and Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law Study Bible. Whatever keeps the money flowing, right? Our faith is tied to the sales receipts of various Christian marketplaces. Don’t even get me started on contemporary “Christian Living” books. Perhaps you haven’t sold out to marketable Christianity. (Note: If you have a Christian fish eating a Darwin fish with legs on your bumper, it’s too late for you.) There are other world views vying for your attention. One of the latest is the “consumer church” movement. This idea stems from the philosophy that we as potential church attendees are consumers looking for the best bang for our buck. In order for your local, neighborhood church to get ahead and build God’s kingdom, it must stand above the crowd. Whether that comes from free espressos, rock band worship services, or listening to speakers on sitting on a stool with a wireless mic and flip-flops on, we must be ministered to where we are. Honestly, when did we all start wearing jeans to church? How does dressing down (business casual) impact our worship?
But it’s not just the worship that must closely resemble a Hannah Montana concert in order to woo audiences. The church itself must become a smrgsbord of ministry options in order to compete. There must be children’s ministry, youth ministry, and young married’s ministry. Those are standard, but the go-getters have ministries for college, for singles, for divorcees, for Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers, and the Next Generation (or Millennials). Basically, if your church resembles Wal-Mart, you’ve found your niche. You should be able to walk in and find everything you need.
The most interesting thing about consumer churches is that for the most part they adjust their ministry to meet the needs/wants of the unchurched. They are trying so hard to bring in outsiders and make them comfortable that the unsaved end up driving the ministry. The church becomes singular in its need to fit in with the world and not offend potential customers. This in turns makes the conversion moment the penultimate experience and all that sanctification junk plays second fiddle. As long as we are going to Heaven, does it really matter how we spend the rest of our days? Just buy a study bible to help you figure it out.
So what’s my world view? I’m still figuring that out. I could spend more time telling you what it isn’t than what it is. I know God is sovereign in all creation and at the same time we have a measure of freedom. I know that humanity is very jacked up and Christianity is not really helping. I know that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6) but I don’t trust what the churches are teaching me. Rosy, huh?
Aaron has been a school teacher for ten years in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. He is transitioning to full-time ministry in River Oaks, TX with his wife and three children.