There are, it seems to me, five types of Christian groups these days.
The first are those who are progressive, open-minded, grace oriented. This group is not bound to tiresome traditions that are irrelevant and exclusive. They long to grow emotionally, spiritually. These Christians welcome gays, actively care about the poor, and are not political except to work for justice in their communities, state, nation, and the world by supporting causes and agencies that reach out to hurting people in desperate circumstances. They are humble, human, and loving, but they are not afraid to break out of the mold, to ask hard questions, to challenge the status quo, and to embrace people of all faiths, races, and lifestyles. They are not into “getting people saved,” but are rather dedicated to discovering how to make the world a better place for everyone. Once a powerhouse for change and renewal this is a diminishing group within the Christian community.
A second group are those who are in some kind of wild, jarring religious schizophrenia that attempts to combine Christianity into a Hollywood entertainment experience. Enter their church and you see a stage with a rock band, no pulpit, maybe a stool, a dark set, loud music, high monitors from which to sing chirpy choruses. The minister looks like he just walked across the street from Starbucks. He’s casual, hip, unpretentious in a very pretentious way. He’s—still no women preachers in this group—going to have everyone give each other a high five and then give you a little talk about how Jesus is cool, dude, and like, you really should just give him a shout out and be a follower, man. No politics here, just cotton candy theology and some lame attempt to make church a fun place to get happy and dance to the band up there in their pseudo U2 disguise. This group has almost no meaningful influence on our culture.
A third group are those who are old fashioned believers who stick to an honest interpretation of Scripture. They go to church to worship, to have fellowship with other Christians, and to attend Bible study and other learning opportunities. They are generous in their giving to the church. They pray and care about unbelievers. They are good neighbors and try to follow the Golden Rule. They are family oriented and committed to their community. They don’t like change but are willing to consider a different viewpoint. They respect people. Unfortunately, this group is going the way of the dinosaur. Extinction is looming.
A fourth group is made up of the prosperity gospel people. They don’t have any theology beyond Scripture verses about money. And even those are taken out of context. This group is mostly housed in elaborate TV studios with a small audience of adoring, wealth starved devotees. Or if not in a studio then these are the ones gathering in some giant million dollar acropolis, a world within itself for the worthy. This is the thousand dollar seed crowd. Sow a grand into the ministry and abracadabra you’re on your way to Bill Gatesism. This group is run by the biggest cons in the universe. There is nothing Christian about any of this.
The fifth group of Christians comprise those who are now caught up in the mean politics of extremism, nationalism, hate and bigotry. They have bought into a far right wing ideology that pits one group against another. They are only interested in loving their neighbor if their neighbor happens to be White, Republican, conservative, a flag waver, and so forth. Otherwise their neighbor is the enemy or at least someone they consider undesirable. These Christians don’t believe in cooperation or compromise unless it ultimately means they are right. They do not question their beliefs or attempt in any way to inspect them for error or contradiction. They are combative, intolerant, hostile. They consider rudeness as a right. They are willing to break the law if it doesn’t fit in with their way of life. They claim to love freedom and patriotism, but their attitude and actions betray both of those ideals. They wear their Christianity as a decoration and then use it as some kind of shield against people they don’t like, or in some instances, as a weapon to shame and defeat others.
The Christian Church is in big trouble these days. Big trouble. This last group has become its loudest and most irritating representative.
People are tired of sham of religion. Sadly, they see some of these groups and want no part of institutional Christianity. I don’t blame them.
© 2013 Timothy Moody