“What’s wrong with Christianity in 2016?”
Yikes. I’ve been dreading this question since we decided that our book on “Pietism and the Future of Christianity” would mirror the structure of Philipp Spener’s Pia Desideria, whose first major section is a “Conspectus of Corrupt Conditions in the Church.”
As I mused in our first episode in this series, and then again at my own blog last week, it’s awfully easy to criticize Christianity right now. And to do it in a way that seems self-righteous, overly generalized, and worse. So we started with some advice that Mark had for me back in that opening episode:
I think when I preach, when I prepare my sermons, I’m always asking God, “What’s your word for me? And then, okay, what’s your word through me? What can I share with others that may be helpful, by the grace of your Spirit…?
…So even as I think about the judgment of God on the church, or as I think about what critiques we may need to speak about the church, they’ll come from that place… I’m a part of the church, I’m a part of this thing. I have that tendency, too. What is the word of judgment for me, for us?
Where that took us was everything from partisan politics (thanks to one of our Christian Humanist bosses for supplying some discussion fodder here!) to the nature of work in this economy to the prevalence of fear, the desire for certainty, and the temptation to disengage. (Perhaps, I suggested near the end of the conversation, the biggest problem is that Christians struggle even to agree what the problems are…)
So download our “What’s Wrong?” episode at iTunes and let us know what you think of our diagnosis — then come back next week to see what we do with Spener’s prevailing “hope for better times.”
Some quick footnotes to the conversation:
- Barack Obama, comments on fear at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast (2 Tim 1:7)
- Parker Palmer on “functional atheism“
- On “marrying across political lines,” part of a 2014 Pew study of political polarization in American society
Image Credit: CC BY-ND 2.0 bambe1964