How to Break the Cookie-Cutter, Carbon Copy Christian Cycle

   

Image by Novaliee

Mechanized. An assemblage of parts constructing carbon copy images of the same person over and over again. While Ford was the progenitor of the assembly line, Christian culture has become it’s own master of mass production.

The assembly line creating mass quantities of goods has one irrefutable quality—unless faulty, the product is exactly the same. Carbon copies of each other is the goal. The “different” or “inconsistent” item from the rest of the bunch is tossed out—faulty and not meeting the specifications of those making these consumer goods.

And while this principle and product of Capitalism produces wealth, such activities are destructive and detrimental in the Church.

Churches, wittingly or otherwise, often taken on the role of mass producing assembly lines. Each Christian is instructed in the same way, given the same set of rules, a particular sanitized clothing lines of music selection, and specific speculative interpretations of scripture which they must abide by. Churches such as these are not interested in creating unique Christians but mass produced carbon copies of each other. Each Christian must dress a certain way (or perhaps, NOT in certain styles) think, act, and talk in designed and “approved” fashions. To do otherwise could get you into some major trouble. One might be branded “faulty” from the prototype — (Supposedly Jesus wore hemp sandals, parted his hair, didn’t wear shorts to church, and avoided secular music like the plague.)

Such was the setting in which I grew-up. Imagine, if you will, a high-school lad enamored with the punk scene sporting a studded belt, and dyed black spiked hair. Countless times church members would approach my parents and warn them of my impending doom and corruption.

The truth is, the body of Christ, the mystical bride whom all Christians compose (not just the Protestants with whom you agree) is far more diverse. To this effect, Paul the Apostles warned the Church of Corinth that the body should not be composed of nay one part but many equal diverse parts. They were not all to be carbon copies of each other. And so neither should we.

Some have talents that others do not. May all our talents and gifts be used for Christ—not neglected because it’s not “Christian” enough.

Some have interests, fashion, an appearance, and personality which swing wide the doors of communities which are closed for others.

And since the body of Christ is so diverse, as it should be, you and I should never feel the compulsion to confirm to any particular pastor or church’s vision of what a cookie-cutter Christian should look like.

There is only one to whom we should conform our lives, minds, behaviors, and desires—Jesus Christ.

Be Christ-like as you live out who God made you to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Church or church life is not about a “particular” individual as to his fashion, looks, likes and dislikes. We do not create a church to make people feel comfortable as he or she walks through her doors. Church is not about how we should treat others or perceive them because of their lack of conservatism or their enthusiastic approach of our modern culture. The church of Jesus Christ is to make everyone uncomfortable about their sin. And should always make the individual have reverence towards God and His Word, since we’re all in the presence of the Almighty.

    As we analyze the collapse of biblical practices in the modern church, one principle that we need to understand clearly is there are right and wrong ways to conduct ourselves in the church. This idea is discordant to our relativistic, postmodern ears. Paul made this plain to Timothy:

    “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Tim 3:15

    Paul makes it clear here that there are right ways and wrong ways when it comes to the church, not a cavalier, liberal mentality in worshipping our Father in Heaven, because “diversity” and the postmodern church demands it. 

    We have large buildings and growing churches with programs that target every conceivable demographic slice. We appear to be reaching people. It is a good-looking collapse, but it is a façade. “Whitewash” too often disguises an inwardly decrepit building. The appearance looks good enough, but underneath there has been a breakdown of basic biblical order, practice, and authority. In the process, we gained more church members, but sustained fewer long term disciples. We can boast of a full portfolio of programs, but we neglect the basic order and authority of the church and the family.

    In our postmodern, relativistic culture, it is important to understand that when it comes to the church, there is a right way and a wrong way. There is a way that “you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God.” (I Tim 3:15) One of the “wrong ways” that is commonly accepted in the church is the diminished role of the father in the spiritual training of children. This has collapsed the biblical order. Fathers don’t do this work anymore. They have allowed to carry the load.
    My view is that we have come by the collapse honestly. We did not intend to reject the biblical order. We got where we are, through a mix of creativity and good old American pragmatism. We even prayed about it. And, in our creativity, we have amassed so many non-biblical structures, and have become so busy with them that they have forced us to push the biblical things to the periphery. It was a poor swap that has caused the mortgaging of the future for the present success.What we gained was programmatic Christianity where everything is packaged in a professionally run program and measured by it’s numerical success. It is time for reformation. It is time for a return to the biblical order for the church and the home for the delivery of the message of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world, for the eternal joy of all who believe, to a thousand generations.

  • http://www.theology21.com jonathan Keck

    Mike, I always appreciate your reading and commenting. Obviously we have had some major disagreements on various issues. This case is just another one of them. Obviously you have a major beef with postmodernism (whatever you mean by that because there are a million definitions), multiculturalism, and relativism. I, for one, don’t have much of a problem with these views. That is, no more a problem than I did with modernism. 

    But to the point, you claim that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to do church. Sure there are. I never made a claim that there isn’t. There are also many ways in which church can be better done than other ways. But your evidence is a vague claim in Timothy asserting that there are wrong ways. Moreover, you seem to switch the your claim with your evidence. Indeed, men do fail at taking responsibility for the spiritual condition of their families. But this has nothing to do with diversity. My convictions, faith, practices, and behaviors are very different than my friends. And that should be a good thing. Diversity is good. 

    In reality, there are many right ways (not just one) and many wrong ways to be a Christian, follow Christ, and be part of a church community. But it would be a gross error to claim that there is ONLY ONE WAY, and all others are wrong. 

    Thanks for your perspective and thoughts Mike! They are always welcome!

  • Anonymous

    “In reality, there are many right ways (not just one) and many wrong ways to be a Christian, follow Christ, and be part of a church community. But it would be a gross error to claim that there is ONLY ONE WAY, and all others are wrong.”

    A good summary of postmodern thinking is given by Os Guinness in Fit Bodies, Fat Minds:
    “Where modernism was a manifesto of human self-confidence and self-congratulation, postmodernism is a confession of modesty, if not despair. There is no truth, only truths. There are no principles, only preferences. There is no grand reason, only reasons. There is no privileged civilization, only a multiple of cultures, beliefs, periods, and styles. There is no grand narrative of human progress, only countless stories of where people and their cultures are now. There is no simple reality or any grand objectivity of universal, detached knowledge, only a ceaseless representation of everything in terms of everything else. In sum, postmodernism…is an extreme form of relativism.”

    Postmodernism is the term used by sociologists and others to describe a way of thinking that has become very pervasive in the Western world over the last generation. It is an approach to reality that is having a significant effect on literature, theatre, art, education, psychotherapy, law, science, architecture, the study of history and people’s view of religion. Its origins are found in the philosophies of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Marx and Freud. On some points, particularly its attitude to truth, it is similar to New Age thinking. As a way of thinking it can hardly be described as a “worldview”, as one of its tenets is that there is no longer any one big story that is able to make sense of our little stories. In other words, “worldviews” are out!

    Postmodernism does not rule out religion as did modernism, with its emphasis on human reason. However, the religions that are approved are very different from Christianity. You may believe what you want to. Go for what makes you feel good. Religion is cafeteria style. You choose what you like from what is spread in front of you, and put a meal together that suits your taste. There are strong links with paganism.

    Someone has said that we have now moved from the conviction that everyone has a right to his own opinions, to the notion that every opinion is equally right!
    I agree to disagree. I disagree with postmodernism, because it has fractured the body of Christ into pieces. It has made all aspects of church life into a smorgasbord. Emotions, feelings, intuition, reflection, magic, myth, and mystical experience are now centre stage. “I know” has been replaced by “I feel”. There is a blurring of the difference between ourselves and the real world out there.

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