Friday, December 6, 2013

The Plague of Baby Christians

Hitler showed us the way: to grow to a massive size you must find what every tribe has in common, and then appeal to that. Growth is no more, and no less than finding the lowest common denominator. For Hitler, this was the criminal element, and his brownshirts were nothing more than thugs and criminals.

Now this isn't necessarily a nefarious strategy, TV news people in the 1970s did the same to appeal to as many Americans as they could. The political parties do the same to build as broad a coalition as possible. This is, in fact, a universal principle that has been around since mankind began to congregate. But it became a real problem when the church started taking the lesson and applying it accordingly in appealing to the lowest common denominator. Serve milk and baby food and round up as many new believers as you can. Presto! Mega church.
The tacit principle that nobody is speaking aloud here (but I will) is that doctrines are divisive. As soon as you start teaching people about baptism you are going to divide the hearers into padeos versus credos. Teach them about predestination and you divide them into monogerists vs synergists.Best to avoid this, keep your coalition large by not saying anything, or at least, nothing worth saying.

Horton called this Christless Christianity, a faith devoid of the cross and the work of Jesus, but I'm not sure that that's accurate. Yes those hard words like "take up your cross and follow me" get neglected in favor of "come you blessed." No question. But it's not that there is no cross, it's that it's a children's one. All of the adult stuff, propitiation, satisfaction, sanctification, justification, gets thrown out, and what is left is translated into kid speak. "Seek pleasure, avoid pain. Don't get a spanking, don't make God put you on time out." The bible isn't taught in depth, it's skimmed, because that hard stuff would go over the heads of most "busy, hardworking, ordinary people, who have lots of other things to do." All this to say the people in the chairs are treated as children.
As an aside, this perfectly characterizes the churches of Christ while at the same time is characteristic of the mega churches. These are places not devoid of truth, nor are the people who go there totally ignorant, some are even thirsty for truth, it's just they are just mostly ignorant and going to stay that way.

What does this look like? It looks like the purpose driven church. It looks like Blackaby. It looks like survey driven Willow Creek. Find out what the listeners want, and give them that. They like entertainment? Give them that. They want videos? Give them videos. They want Bible? Give it in small doses and only in a shallow manner. Don't jeopardize your coalition.

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