Sunday, June 8, 2008

Overcoming Our Sheltered Persona: The Great Challenge of Christendom and of the Patriocentrist (from "unChristian")

ConsideringUnchristian: What A New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity ...An Why It MattersGroundbreaking research from the Barna Group by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
I'm concerned that the patriocentrists take such joy in their accomplishments of withdrawing from culture, including mainstream Christian culture, that they will not find the criticisms that the authors make in “unChristian” relevant. The patriocentrists (those in the “higher life” movements and in the so-called “Biblical patriarchy” movement) who ascribe to a Calvinistic or Reformed view often misinterpret Paul's discussion of election as cause for elitism that makes Christianity an exclusive practice of determining who is elect and who is not. The patriocentrics see themselves as God's chosen for election which adds an element of spiritual pride to their identity rather than the humble sense that without Christ they can do nothing and that they are nothing. All those who are not strongly identified with their privileged group become an object of disdain as those who hate and rebel against God.

In the process, they neglect the mandates that Jesus set before the church to show love and care to all people, not just those within their religious group, turning Calvinism into what I believe is no different from the pagan's view of karma or the scientist's understanding of cause and effect. Acting as if a human being has the ability to determine who is elect and who is not, they take great joy in citing imprecatory psalms and praying for the destruction of their enemies. Under the New Covenant, Jesus called us to do good, bless, and pray for those who misuse or curse us. In an over focus upon an Old Covenant view of Israel's status as a nation "set apart," I believe that this new breed of Calvinist (not a true Calvinist) conveniently forgets from whence they came – a place of total depravity outside of Christ. For this brave new breed, the old cliché of “But for grace, there go I” becomes a mantra of “They are not God's elect so they deserve every evil thing that they are due.”

So I have concerns that this admonishment from the authors of “unChristian” will fall on deaf ears, so I ask that for those who hold to that view – that it is better to withdraw from our culture in a mentality of survival for the sake of their own – to consider these things anyway. If they cannot process the idea that we are to love the lost in our culture and those who are dying in their sins, I ask that they take these ideas from the authors and think of their Christian brethren who reject the pagan elements of their family views rather than the heathen in the world. I believe that as long as these members of the Church hold their own brethren in contempt, they will certainly not be able to affect any positive change within our larger culture. There are lessons here for all Christians of all denominations here, but I am grieved at my anticipation that the patriocentrists will say “This does not apply to me because God hates the non-elect.” That may be true on a lofty, academic and theoretical level, but this is definitely not Christ's directive for evangelism and our conduct in the world. Being “not of the world” differs vastly from “not being in the world” or only in the approved and sanitized Christian quadrant of it.

Entertain me as I play devil's advocate for a moment. If you are in the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement, are you not to encourage other Christians to live as godly a life as your own, with all it's priorities in proper perspective? If taking dominion to further the Kingdom involves reforming Christianity and judgment starts in the house of God, then why not consider Kinnaman's and Lyon's approach to the lost as a possible approach to those within Christendom who do not share your view of things? Rather than the staunch aggression and polemic campaigns against all things called feminist and Marxist, why not take this approach with us, the infidels? I think it deserves a reading and at least a passing consideration.

From page 130:

The problem, however, is that our choices to live a sheltered life often leave us unable or unwilling to help people who need Jesus. Yet the Bible instructs mature, thoughtful believers to influence people and places around them – while maintaining their personal integrity and purity.

As cited on page 133 in “unChristian”:

Keeping a Balance: Mike Metzger, an author and the founder of the Clapham
, describes this delicate balance:

"Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don't hold up both
truths in tension, you invariably become useless and separated from the world God loves. For example, if you only practice purity apart from proximity to the culture, you inevitably become pietistic, separatist and conceited. If you live in close proximity to the culture without also living in a holy manner, you become indistinguishable from fallen culture and useless in God's kingdom."

From “unChristian
by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007