Thursday, September 23, 2010

Evangelical Protestant Gimmick #1

The evangelical Protestants are as gimmicky as Lady Gaga.

Here's an example: "Megachurch Pastor Preaches 24 Hours Straight on Audacious Faith", Christian Post (a favorite hotspot of mine for Protestant gimmicks),

If these guys have anything of substance to preach on, why all the gimmicks? Who would listen to preaching for 24 hours? Why not preach for 5 minutes on something of substance?

Not all such gimmicks happen at megachurches. The left-wing feminist United Church of Canada has its own gimmicks, such as feminist or liberation theology whining. It's hard to counter this sentimental gimmickry as much as it is to take non-stop 24 hour preaching seriously.

Evangelical gimmickry proves the need for a deeper ecclesiology. Such Christians need to take another look at the papacy or the Orthodox churches. They need some stabilizer. Their seminaries have obviously failed them, something I saw when I was studying in the United Church - all angry feminist, sentimentalist gimmickry in that case.

A 24-hour preachathon reflects the lack of self-respect and self-confidence inherent in any bravado. This is a form of triumphalism. It is ultimately a failure to communicate the gospel because it reduces the gospel to a marketing campaign. Doesn't it always feel that evangelicals are marketing Jesus?

The biggest threat to American Christianity isn't a new Muslim center in Manhatten. It's this Protestant nonsense. Islam, as well as more traditional forms of Christianity, offer a much deeper, richer spiritual life. I'd prefer having the new mosque to another megachurch. Maybe the preachathon pastor would learn that a quantitative approach to everything - the American way of life, in other words - is insufficient for spiritual living.

These guys always spout the same beans. Change your thinking, become aspirational, live the American dream with a religious stamp on it. Mr Preachathon said: "Your belief system, your way of seeing the world, your framework, what you operate out of is either going to be an outlook of faith or an outlook of fear," he said during the online event. "And the battleground where that all plays out is in your mind." (The Christian Post) Either-or thinking can be ruinous. It reflects the legalistic-juridical theology that, among others, Anselm of Canterbury developed. You owe God something because of the Fall, and only Jesus can give it to you, so say the magical religious formula so you can be saved.

This is a belief in magic. No different from Harry Potter. Then, because this spirituality lacks depth, pastors must use gimmicks to keep the funds coming in. It's not liturgy. It's showtime. Church-as-a-circus. The Orthodox Christians offer a much more mature theology, such as The Melody of Faith by Vigen Guroian, who contrasts the Western juridical theology of redemption with the Orthodox view of Christ as both physician and medicine.

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