Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lamb Was Slain; Must We Cook Him Also?

So I just suffered through one of the latest tools of the Christian propaganda machine, H2O. (And I say this as a firm believer in the revelation of Jesus Christ!) I hope this doesn't sound over-righteous--though I have no reason to doubt my faith and the moving of the Spirit within me--but it was utter crap.

First of all, I would like someone to explain to me the logic of hosting an evangelical event attended by people who attend our church every week. I wouldn't be surprised if over half the mob were card-carrying members. "Hey, you serve Jesus! Let me introduce you to Him."

Ah, but what of Jesus? I'm starting to appreciate the virtue of Frank Viola's firm, anti-institutionalist stance. In his book, he emphasizes the Pauline and apostolic methods of preaching the gospel. Unlike H2O, they don't rely on sophist garbage like analogs comprising of infomercial stories and Rob Bellian cornball images; they actually shared the joy of Christ's renewing power. (Let me grant, however, that Rob Bell seems to love the Lord, even though he's got one heck of an ecclectic style of sharing it.)

My frustration boiled over when, after watching a horrendous video that dilutes the gospel message, we convened in a private room with a group of 8-10 people. (Again, I must interject and say that I am being very gracious in suggesting the video diluted the gospel, seeing as it didn't mention it. But hosting this event in a church inherently simulated a suggestive gospel message, not that one needs to present the gospel to existing believers.) Once in that room, the leader highest in the hierarchy had us close our eyes and, in a hypnotic monotone, told us to imagine a puddle, gradually extended this figurative illustration into an ocean, and remarked how we all were thirsty in light of this gimmick. "Ooh! Water! That symbolizes baptism, huh? I guess we all thirst for baptism. Well don't that butter my toast!"

Wow! I'm stupefied. Truly baffled. I mean, do I honestly want to account for this? Do I want to stand before the Lord's judgment seat and have to explain why in the Hades I wasted my time silently endorsing this foolishness? The only thing that kept me in there for the whole session was the fact that, in spite of the ludicrous pragmatism that is the curriculum, there were souls loved by God in my midst. But seriously, do observations like the following truly pass as service to Christ nowadays:

"Let us enlighten you to the spiritual hole that is your life. You may think you're satisfied, but you are wrong. Of course, those of you who are honest would confess a deep longing within yourselves. Come back next week to see what other great revelation we have in store! You might even get to meet Jesus. He's more alive than Elvis. Trust us."

And how would I respond to this hole analogy? The same way one Bart Simpson once did, after a sympathetic date with his teacher: "Did you know that the hole's natural enemy is the pile?" (Which, by the way, struck me as more Christian than how the institutional church tries to pander to people.)

If it weren't for the Holy Spirit, the world would have no reason to believe. None. We are not doing our jobs!!!


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