Authors Hold a Mirror up to a World of the unChristian
- Thursday, October 18, 2007
What do Chuck Colson, Margaret Feinberg, Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, John Stott, Brian McLaren, and Jim Wallis have in common?
Though Christians all, not a lot, you say? Until now.
Over 30 Christian leaders, including those above, have come together from all spectra of Christianity to offer insights and assessment to the research of Barna Group president David Kinnaman and his co-author Gabe Lyons, founder of Fermi Project. Their new book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why it Matters (Baker Books, 2007) is a project that has arrived at a critical time in American Christianity.
A recent story in The Christian Post cites how “the line dividing evangelicals from progressives blurred as members from both parties joined in a new mission to erase long-held stereotypes of one another and seek commonality on polarizing issues… Both sides agreed the 'civil war' between evangelicals and progressives needs to end and common ground be pursued…”
Christians unified represent Christ to the world. How are we doing? “According to the latest report card,” write Kinnaman and Lyons, “something has gone terribly wrong...”
The authors recently sat down with Crosswalk.com to talk about it.
Crosswalk: If you had to peg the religion of today’s generation – the generation you’re talking about in unChristian – what would you say that it is, and what are some ways God can move within that belief system to still impact the world?
David Kinnaman: If you look at religion over the last 100 years, it’s been very monochromatic. One size fits all. It’s very one-dimensional, with Christianity and everything else in America. I think what you look at when you see young people’s religion is it’s a rich palette of colors, some of which are very antithetical to Christianity, some are in fact very hostile to Christianity. That’s partly what this book is about.
But there’s a rich diversity of religious perspectives. There’s a hunger about spirituality, about meaning… It’s very self-oriented (that’s very characteristic of this generation), the negative reality is that they’re very narcissistic. But there’s something about wanting to have meaning, about being transparent, about ditching just regular old religion and tradition as the motivating factors. And I think there’s some real great hope for this generation. They could actually become really pointed to God’s purposes in ways that we haven’t seen in our lifetime, because all the conditions are ripe for this being a spiritual heyday of biblical ministry.
How has the reputation of Christians become so increasingly negative? It’s not just this generation. We can even go back to Gandhi who said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” So we’ve had this problem with hypocrisy in the past, but why now is this the generation that’s picking up on that and saying, “I’ve had it”?
Kinnaman: Well I think the biggest issue is they are a no-nonsense generation. They’ve been marketed-to to death. Some different executives in the television industry say that things have changed so drastically over the last couple of decades that when they do their programming, they bring young kids in, and the kids are able to articulate why the network is making [certain] decisions – why you put one program here and put the other program there – so they are incredibly savvy. So when they see the lack of depth in Christianity in America today, where only eight percent of Americans have a biblical worldview, and 83 percent – 10 times that amount – call themselves Christians, it’s like they’re probing and testing our faith. In a country that calls itself not only religious but Christian, they’re saying that we don’t want anything to do with a superficial, inert form of Christianity. It hasn’t worked.
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