Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hirsch Quote and a Question

In his book The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch makes this statement:

“So we have now reached the vexing situation that the prevailing expression of church (Christendom) has become a major stumbling block to the spread of Christianity in the West.” (Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 63)

My question: Do you think the prevailing expression of church has become a major stumbling block to the spread of the good news?


tech.samaritan said...

Unfortunately, maybe. It is common among young Christian thinkers to find euphemisms for their faith in order to distance themselves from the prevailing expression of church. These folk are generally more sensitive to the culture outside of the Christian bubble in a way that allows them to see how church is viewed by those outside it. I admit to feeling this way in the past, but now see how it contributes to the problem, rather than redeeming the Church.

I think the feelings and views toward the church are significantly exaggerated by both the media and those within the church. The media does it because it gets people riled (and hooks them into watching/reading the coverage), and people within the church do it to polarize/dichotomize issues (to get folks riled up). I know, pure speculation, but that is my theory anyway.

shack said...

For the past 3 years I have been having a hard time wanting to read the Bible because I could feel the discord between what "Church" said it said and what it actually says. Recently I finished reading "Missions and Money" by Jonathan Bonk. He points out that the affluent lifestyle of western missionaries is/can be a stumbling block to those they are trying to reach, because the medium does not reflect the message. This is not so much an issue of contextualization as one of hypocrisy. I think the seriousness of the situation is not limited to the overseas mission field but extends to all of the Church.

M Crane said...

tech.samaritan, that is an interesting theory. But I think even the fact that we call it the "Christian bubble" is telling. If we bubble-ize ourselves, then we have created obstacles to the spread of the gospel. I'm not suggesting that Christian culture should be more like the surrounding culture, rather that Christian culture should be radically different in the midst of the surrounding culture. If our structures pull people into the church building all of time, then they have very little opportunity to be salt and light in the community. I wonder if re-biblicizing our church structures might be how the Church is redeemed.

Shack, it sounds like reading Bonk's book also made you feel discord. You right about the seductive power of our affluence and how it has numbed us to the extraordinarily different way of Jesus. It pains me deeply to see the potential global impact of the church thrown away on luxuries that distract our spiritual vitality. The reason that I am not more vocal about it is that I would have to change my lifestyle too. I guess true Christian community should provide mutual encouragement in that kind of living.