December 9, 2011

Christian Apathetics or Christian Apologetics


This article has some headiness in it. I tried to be as clear as possible with it but it sort of comes off as pretentious. This was not my intent but I'm afraid I will loose a little of the edge it needs to make its point if I start to change it from its original form. So here it is in its original rough draft prose.

Christian evidence is Christian experience [occurrence]. A well-intentioned Christian is worthless to the Body unless their intentions become action. Knowing and feeling Christian are connected to "doing" Christian. The doing itself doesn't make you Christian (that's works based faith) but it does tell me (and you) where you stand in relation to God and salvation. People that actually feel for and love the downtrodden will be compelled to act on their behalf...or they are apathetic. 

The philosophy of religion in many Christian congregations has spent very little time being attentive to how embodied flesh-n-blood believers experience religion, primarily as a form or modus operandi of life. One of the main influential aspects of a Christian life is participation in corporate worship, liturgical practices, and other forms of shared spirit disciplines. Unity in belief and behavior in Christ Jesus is all throughout Scripture in the New Testament (and Old), its unavoidable. Christianity is a focus on believing and doing whereas Christian philosophy is a focus on thoughts/thinking. We cannot just be hearers and thinkers of the Word, we must also be doers of the Word. Even Satan can be a hearer of the Word. The difference between him and us is that he doesn’t practice it. When we hear and don’t do, what makes us any different than that arrogant fiend?

There’s an unstated need to have a philosophy or attitude that advocates overcoming the blind spot or vacuum of knowing but doing nothing about it. We need to overcome the disease of "Christian Apathy" and "Christian Ambivalence". These two combinations of words are oxymoron. If you are not Christian Apologetics, then you are a “Christian Apathetic” or a “Christian Ambivalent”. If this is true then there is a good chance you might not even be Christian.

The question is raised: Do the believers shaped in philosophy of religion ever kneel, sing, weep in repentance, respond to altar calls or is it the same three people every time the pastor makes the call? Are they/we stick-in-the-mud deadbeats that appear to have had their sympathetic and autonomic nervous torn from their/our body? Are we waiting for a sign or for the stars to align? The last thing this world needs (that is dead in its sins) is another dead heart in a dead world. Deadness and deadening then becomes superfluous. Just like the word dead in the last two sentences. Dead, dead, DEAD!

Is Christianity just brains-based or pain-based...or both? Is Christianity in a cloistered vacuum or does it get down on its hands and knees and dig in the dirt to bury itself so that it may that others may live? People don’t care that you know everything about God and can tell them. They care that you care about them and that you cared enough to tell them that!!! Philosophy and intellectual ascent is only useful when it gets its hands dirty and has application in the real world. Sadly, this is not often the case. Many people live in “The Bubble” and “The Bubble” breeds apathy whether we like it or not. Christians then become only pretentious and pious windbags and “talking heads”. The only thing worse than a pretentious windbag is a religious pretentious windbag. BLAH BLAH BLAH! Arrgghhh!!

When we do this we reduce Christianity to a bunch of clever sound-bites and catch-phrases and we miss out on the experience of “doing” Christian. It becomes a religion of ritual and rhetoric instead of relationship. Instead of becoming animated and alive to and in Christ we become artifacts of dead religion. The current practices within our churches are then nullified, as idea trumps action. We then have a rich history/rich tradition but it’s for a boring lifeless set of rituals entombed in an oversized grandiose echo chamber with a marque out front with the lead pastors, bishop, reverend or priests name on it. If I may be as bold as to say so…this barely constitutes Christianity.

We need to take serious the thought of putting “living” back into dead religion of purely doctrinal formulations. Doctrines are fine but never in isolation without the presence of God or they become merely Pharisaical torpedoes. We need a “practiced combination” or balance of doctrine, liturgy, worship, reverence, awe, etc. that does justice to our experience as Christians. This obviously will challenge many to rethink or redo what they consider Christian. If we do not, we are really clinging onto and holding what is akin to a false understanding of God and our duties as Christians. And this makes us quite a bit less than we should be. It makes us either marginal Christians or worse…it makes us apostate.

We need a philosophy/viewpoint of religion that is “practiced” or precognitive, communal, and mode of being or existence. We need to “be” Christian in both mind and action. Otherwise there is an incongruity in us and therefore a noted inconsistency when people see us. No one will believe or follow a person that is living a lie. In other words: A hypocrite. Will they?

If we are “living it” we are then in a better position to be proactive to things that are destroying or adversely affecting the Church and the world rather than being reactive to them. The power of doing this will transcend the very thing that drives it. The communal practices and the Christian state of being in the world will become so much a part of who "we are" that it will be a self-building practice. These types of actions will then reinforce the desire to do even more to further strengthen the mindset...a reaffirming cycle. Discipleship. So what started as a cognitive thought processes becomes visceral actions that reinforce further Christian thought processes. So as a man is he (Proverbs 23:7). We embody what we believe and we believe what we’ve embodied. The more we think, the more we do. The more we obey the truth of the call of what it means to be Christian. To have the mind of Jesus Christ.

People that live and learn in "The Bubble" only live and learn how to do things in "The Bubble". We need to live and learn things outside of rigid philosophical ideologies formed in even the well-intentioned Christian intellectuals…especially if they are confined to academia. We are called and commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) to go outside of The Bubble. By being called to go outside of it, it stands to reason that we should not even be in one….even if it is only a bubble in our philosophies in our minds. Even our minds can be barriers. We see this every day in the hostility and violence of the world. Barriers in the mind amount to nothing more than ignorance on the outside that everyone can see.

Ignorant and arrogant Christians. Ugh, is there anything worse?

Bubbles have barriers and we can have no barriers in our Christian apologetics unless they are divinely ordained. Anything that prevents us from evangelizing is a barrier that is not of God…therefore it is of the Devil, the serpent of old.

The conclusion is to remember "ordinary believers" and the ways ordinary folks come to faith in Jesus Christ. Most are not argued into the faith or drawn in with lofty ideas and highfalutin words and flowery spastic gesticulations and hand-waving. We are to be conversational not confrontational with our ideas. We are to be relational in our approach not reviling, loving not loathsome in behavior. Our philosophies must be illuminating for believers and unbelievers alike. More often than not God draws the ordinary folks.

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Cor. 1:26-27

It is the common folk’s language God spoke in the Bible...the Hebrew, Koine Greek, Aramaic. Paul did not speak with the words of pretentious philosophers but in the ideas and vernacular of the working man, not the academic. He became a blue collar man to the blue collar man... 

“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-23

Too often we paint other believers or non-believers into our own image instead of God’s. We try to shoe horn them into a mold of our own making instead of the mold God made for each of them individually. Our strength is indeed in our diversity of personality but also in combination with our unity of purpose, faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Who is It that we are to worship? In the end, is it a human philosophical or mental construct or an Almighty God that is beyond our reason and ability to philosophize?

Knowing "it" and knowing that you know "it" are not good enough. If you know "it" the way you claim you do, then you will do something about "it" won't you? If you don't do it, then you don't really know "it" the way your suppose you? Christian knowledge is only useful when it can be used or when it is practical. If "it" isn't, then perhaps your not as Christian as you once thought are were?

We need to be doers of the Word...not just hearers. Even that crackhead Satan can do the hearing...he just doesn't love or listen to it and obey...and he is pretty sorry company to be in...don't you think?

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