Authors Hold a Mirror up to a World of the unChristian
- Thursday, October 18, 2007
And that’s what we actually argue for. If you don’t have the deep truths of Scripture – it’s not easy or simple to understand – but if you don’t probe it, and understand it, and have a holistic perspective about Scripture, you can’t respond to the doubts of this generation. That’s what’s true of the research we did.
Gabe Lyons: Like you said, it’s not a new problem. I mean, think back to Jesus’ day and the Pharisees, they were the ones who claimed to represent God, yet they were also the ones who were hypocritical, judgmental, carried a lot of the same perceptions that this research turns up. It still exists. I think it’s always going to be a problem that when people who feel like they’ve found the answer, or found the way to God, start to look down on everyone else, they start to live that out.
So I think our goal with getting this research out is for people to start to wrestle with the complexity of being perceived this way. Then they in their own life can start to remove barriers to people, to connecting with Jesus, connecting with His love for them. Over time these perceptions could change and become more and more positive as Christians start to live out a biblical worldview, live out a way of life that’s sensitive, compassionate, loving, caring, authentic, and engaged. Which is what we’re seeing with the next generation; that’s what we’re most encouraged about, is actually these perceptions are changing. It’ll be a while before it starts to show up, but a new generation is really living out some of these ideas in a fresh way, it’s pretty exciting.
Kinnaman: The big problem is that there are not enough of us doing that yet. So that’s why we wrote the book. We think there are more people that need to hear this message. There are some of us who are really grappling with these issues. There are many other books that are in this tradition – many other speakers, writers, and artists who are saying, “We need to deal with how we relate to a culture where we’re not popular, where when you say to people you’re a Christian, immediately barriers go up, and how do we deal with that?”
Speaking of barriers, have you found it to be an obstacle that folks of this generation may look around and see people doing “good” in the world, being charitable, meeting needs, who are not necessarily Christian, or even religious? Why do I need the trappings of religion when I can still “do good”? Is that an obstacle to presenting the Gospel to people today?
Kinnaman: I think it is. It’s that idea that spirituality can be “my sized.” It can be customized. Or they think of themselves as “spiritual” because they’re doing good things, and that’s become more and more popular, obviously, with celebrities taking on different kinds of causes… And there’s this idea that you can divorce “Christian care,” and it’s true that anybody can do good things, but that’s what I think we’re trying to say: let’s redeem that impulse in the true, Christlike way, which is that Jesus takes this idea of service to a whole new level. It’s not just that you are altruistic, or you have the good of mankind in mind, but you are willing to sacrifice your life. “No greater love has a man than he lays down his life for another person.” Just like Jesus is our model, we actually take up our cross and serve people in the true selfless way that Christ portrayed. So we hope to redeem that social service impulse with something that’s much deeper than what the culture has to offer.
Lyons: Well, in the pluralistic society, I think that that story [of Christ’s sacrifice] wins, the idea of Christianity being a story that answers people's questions about why they desire to do good, why people who may not be of a particular faith still go out and work hard to do good or to serve the poor, or to love their neighbor, more so than many Christians do.
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