The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. -Psalm 46:6

alienating people critical of the status quo

Posted: July 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on alienating people critical of the status quo

In an interview published in byFaith Magazine, Ken Meyers, former NPR commentator and long time voice and mind of Mars Hill Audio Journal speaks to one common consequence of Christians uncritically pursuing relevance to the surrounding culture:

So when, in the interest of evangelism, Christians give the status quo the benefit of the doubt, they alienate people who are critical of the status quo. Many nonbelievers who are already counter-cultural think, “Ah yes, evangelicalism—that’s just the way American commercial culture gets religion.”

I think there tends to be a failure among Christians (and non-Christians) to recognize that today’s norms took root within various subcultures and that tomorrow’s norms are likely incubating today among segments of society that would be considered counter-cultural. The type of relevance one may achieve by aping the cultural trends is fleeting. The ongoing attempt to maintain cultural relevance in this way makes one appear trendy, fickle and free of anchoring convictions or purpose. It puts one’s identity at risk for the merest faux pas.

More importantly, as Meyers points out, is is identifies Christianity with the power structure of the day. It obscures the transformative power of the Gospel and trivializes our petition “Thy kingdom come…”

Meyers invokes–whom else–Wendell Berry to highlight our tendency to neglect, to invert or to reformulate our value system when confronted by novelty:

Wendell Berry says we need to attend to the intrinsic meaning of things: “What is needed is work of durable value; the time or age of it matters only after the value of it has been established.” So it’s the value of the thing itself, not whether or not it’s contemporary. Of course it’s good to be aware of the shape of what is contemporary, but that’s no reason to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Meyer employs the phrase “benefit of the doubt” twice during the interview, in both instances in reference to contemporary societal norms. A sidebar to the article offers two apt questions in this regard: “Have you been dismissive of older things simply because they’re old? Have you gravitated toward, and adopted new things just because they’re new?”


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