I had the most interesting viewing experience recently and it was both impacting in its content and inciteful in its ability to show the shallowness that pervades the Evangelical church in the post modern era.
Like many people, I was mesmerized by Morgan Spurlock's devestating expose of McDonald's, Super-size Me. So, while I walk in to viewing his follow-up television series, 30 Days knowing that he carries with him a strong ultra-liberal agenda, I was keenly interested to see the conflagrations that he came up with. The one I will comment on here is a second season episode where an atheist moved in with a young Evangelical family in Texas.
The 40 something atheist mom was a stereotypical, affluent, progressive liberal. She was kindly and sensitive, well-considered and hopelessly locked into her position of atheism...a turn from her previous experience as a young person where she was a practicing Christian for half of her life, though to what extent and level of piety is not revealed on the program. However, the muddiness of what happens is the Christian family she was placed with.
First, they can only be described as "cookie-cutter" Evangelicals. They lived in Texas, the heart of the Bible belt, were members of one of two mega-churches in their town, and the faithfully attend Bible study or small group twice a week. The husband was something of a caricature of what Spurlock views Evangelicals as. He was brash, eager to challenge the atheist's position, incredulous at her position, and, frankly, not well-spoken when it comes to defending the faith. Indeed, their small group also showed the same incredulity and lack of depth when brought face to face with this opportunity, which Spurlock subtly turned into a successful dig at the buffoonery of the Evangelical community.
I do not judge the family. Indeed, the only hero portrayed by Spurlock in the Christian family, was the softening of acceptance on the mother's part, bonding with her on mothering issues. This is not surprising since female Believers are often perceived by the left as unwilling drones in a patriarchal faith system. It is logical in Spurlock's paradigm that the only redeeming matter was the obviously progressive acceptance by the oppressed female.
No the clue to culprit was seen when the camera observed the family with their atheist guest attending service. The sanctuary was a lavish auditorium with full staging and lights, the worship was somewhat choreographed, and the message, most greivously, was esoteric and shallow. How then can I expect a paritioner to be challenged to know his Lord with all of his mind. This is a common theme in what is now called the Emergent church. This atheist would have had a different, more challenging, intellectual experience had she sat at Grace Community Church and heard John McCarthur teach. She may well have still disagreed. But it wouldn't have been for lack of intellectual engagement balanced with a strong dose of grace.
I know that Spurlock carefully orchestrated this episode reflecting the liberal position of tolerance and understanding. Don't we as believers have a responsibility to be defenders of the faith...to have such an unconciously close relationship with the Father that in those moments, we need only listen close to His still quiet Voice and speak exactly the right thing at that time. Even a novice Christian can see that the Father of this house was ill-prepared for this engagement and Spurlock pounced on the opportunity. To his credit, Spurlock actually did make the episode bringing the two divergent positions together,...perhaps next time he will make sure the Christians are armed for the battle. Moreover, maybe the Church can start passing out the ammunition.
I will continue with this thread in future notes.