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Peter T Chattaway

Hipster Christianity

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mrmando   

Not worth its own thread, but fits nicely into this one:

There's been a lot of thoughtful (and occasionally a bit snarky) rebuttal on various blogs. What came to light afterward, however, is that our rhyming friend here is a denizen of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church, and his much-discussed YouTube rant is nothing more than a string of Driscoll-isms with a soundtrack. Favorite interview quote:

"I didn’t realize this, but outside Mars Hill, religion means different things to other people. Inside Mars Hill, the word 'religion' is pretty much synonymous with hypocrisy, legalism, self-righteousness, and self-justification."

What do you suppose Orwell would make of that? Step 1 in starting a cult: Redefine all the terms!

Edited by mrmando

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mramndo wrote:

: Not worth its own thread, but fits nicely into this one:

Heh. You're not inspired, by any chance, by that comment I made at Facebook, are you (where, incidentally, I have very much enjoyed your own comments):

Frankly, the whole thing reeks of Christian hipsterism. Hipsters always deny that they are hipsters, and Christians -- of the evangelical variety, at least -- always deny they're religious.

: There's been a lot of thoughtful (and occasionally a bit snarky) rebuttal on various blogs. What came to light afterward, however, is that our rhyming friend here is a denizen of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church, and his much-discussed YouTube rant is nothing more than a string of Driscoll-isms with a soundtrack.

This actually isn't the first Bethke video I've seen; ten months ago he released 'Jesus Wins' (still only 457,092 views!) in response to Rob Bell's 'Love Wins', and ocne again, he gets all penal-substitutionary-atonement-theology-ish:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDLCN8GwBHE

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NBooth   

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Does that count as a snarky reply? Full disclosure: I couldn't make it more than halfway through the video. Either one, actually--cutting people off on the highway as a reason we deserve hell? Really? At best, I would think it merits a sound thrashing.

Honestly, the whole "religion vs. Jesus" thing is one of my pet peeves. Of course, it's not anything new. Paul Tillich felt the need to defend the use of the phrase "Biblical religion" against his peers, observing that "[w]henever the divine is manifest, it is manifest in 'flesh,' that is, in a concrete, physical, and historical reality, as in the religious receptivity of the biblical writers. This is what biblical religion means."

Now, I have issues with Tillich's version of "biblical religion," but I think this is a pretty sound insight.

Edited by NBooth

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mrmando   

Heh. You're not inspired, by any chance, by that comment I made at Facebook, are you (where, incidentally, I have very much enjoyed your own comments):

Frankly, the whole thing reeks of Christian hipsterism. Hipsters always deny that they are hipsters, and Christians -- of the evangelical variety, at least -- always deny they're religious.

The credit, my friend, is all yours.

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NBooth   

And now, a Catholic response:

I'm too much of a late-modern Protestant to be totally on-board, but if I had to choose who I wanted in my corner, it would definitely be this guy.

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mrmando   

Not bad ... do you think it would have been more effective if done by a young Catholic layperson, rather than a priest?

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I think my favorite thing about the original Bethke video is the way he slams churches for supposedly not being welcoming to Jesus, when Bethke himself is affiliated with Mars Hill, a church led by a guy who famously said he could never worship a Jesus he could beat up. Yeah, that's VERY welcoming.

And then there are all the ironies that other people have pointed out: the way Bethke slams "religion" for calling people blind, and then goes on to call religious people blind; the way Bethke says he ain't judgin', when he's actually doing little else; or, as mrmando pointed out at Facebook, the way Bethke slams religion for being all about behaviour modification, but then he goes on to say that he modified his behaviour (i.e. his porn and drug addiction) when he found Jesus.

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mrmando   

I suppose it's mostly a particular breed of evangelicals -- mostly nondenominational, be they the "megachurch" type or the "emergent" type (or, in the case of Mars Hill, the emergent megachurch type) -- who use the term “religion” to mean “everything about Christianity that I don’t like.” I suppose I could also see the Jesus-vs.-religion dichotomy having some currency among some progressive mainline Protestants as well as "I'm spiritual but not religious, and Jesus was a great teacher" folk.

The rest of Christianity and the rest of the world recognize that talking about Jesus, praying, attending church, listening to sermons, singing songs of worship, reading and discussing Scripture and theology, getting baptized, taking communion, and attempting to structure one’s life according to Biblical teaching are all religious activities. Doing them means you are religious and part of a religion, and most Protestants, even the ones who bellyache about religion, do all of these things or at least talk about doing them.

In its early days Mars Hill experimented with liturgy. Heck, the famous Mars Hill Worship CD includes a song based on the Prayer of St. Francis. Sounds pretty religious to me.

To people who embrace his false dichotomy already, Bethke’s video is evangelism. To everyone else, it is simply one religious person attacking a bunch of other religious people.

If, as Bethke says repeats what he heard Mark Driscoll say, religion is man's attempt to reach God, and Christianity is God's attempt to reach man, then a Christian needn't bother with any of the above activities. Just sit home and wait for God to call.

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NBooth   

I suppose it's mostly a particular breed of evangelicals -- mostly nondenominational, be they the "megachurch" type or the "emergent" type (or, in the case of Mars Hill, the emergent megachurch type) -- who use the term “religion” to mean “everything about Christianity that I don’t like.” I suppose I could also see the Jesus-vs.-religion dichotomy having some currency among some progressive mainline Protestants as well as "I'm spiritual but not religious, and Jesus was a great teacher" folk.

There's a third type that embraces this sort of language, too--the small-town nondenominational type. Not nearly big enough to be a megachurch (and, honestly, kind of disdainful of them) but not quite "hip" enough to be emergent.

The rest of Christianity and the rest of the world recognize that talking about Jesus, praying, attending church, listening to sermons, singing songs of worship, reading and discussing Scripture and theology, getting baptized, taking communion, and attempting to structure one’s life according to Biblical teaching are all religious activities. Doing them means you are religious and part of a religion, and most Protestants, even the ones who bellyache about religion, do all of these things or at least talk about doing them.[snip]To people who embrace his false dichotomy already, Bethke’s video is evangelism. To everyone else, it is simply one religious person attacking a bunch of other religious people.

Yep. I don't think non-Christians are fooled in the slightest; I can imagine someone watching the "hate religion" video and leaving with a "Yup, religions sucks--nice try, though." I can't imagine someone coming away convinced that Christianity isn't a religion. If it walks like a duck....

In my experience--which, granted, is somewhat limited (because who likes to start fights offline?)--pointing out that none of the essential truths of the Christian faith would be accessible without religion tends to be a dead-end. The idea seems to be that the Holy Spirit will take care of things. The fact that it took decades for even the most basic doctrines to coalesce--and that through the mechanism of religion--doesn't seem to make an impression.

If, as Bethke says repeats what he heard Mark Driscoll say, religion is man's attempt to reach God, and Christianity is God's attempt to reach man, then a Christian needn't bother with any of the above activities. Just sit home and wait for God to call.

Exactly. I hate to bring Tillich up again, but he makes a point of revelation (God coming to humanity) and religion (the human going to God) working together. God reveals Himself and the form of our response is religion.

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Attica   

I suppose it's mostly a particular breed of evangelicals -- mostly nondenominational, be they the "megachurch" type or the "emergent" type (or, in the case of Mars Hill, the emergent megachurch type) -- who use the term “religion” to mean “everything about Christianity that I don’t like.” I suppose I could also see the Jesus-vs.-religion dichotomy having some currency among some progressive mainline Protestants as well as "I'm spiritual but not religious, and Jesus was a great teacher" folk.

The rest of Christianity and the rest of the world recognize that talking about Jesus, praying, attending church, listening to sermons, singing songs of worship, reading and discussing Scripture and theology, getting baptized, taking communion, and attempting to structure one’s life according to Biblical teaching are all religious activities. Doing them means you are religious and part of a religion, and most Protestants, even the ones who bellyache about religion, do all of these things or at least talk about doing them.

In its early days Mars Hill experimented with liturgy. Heck, the famous Mars Hill Worship CD includes a song based on the Prayer of St. Francis. Sounds pretty religious to me.

The word religion is one of those words that has grown to have different meaning in different Christian communities. It seems that it still has a much more positive meaning in Catholic communities than some Evangelical, and more so, Emergent communities. When I was in the Evangelical movement my understanding of someone who was religious, was someone who was "naive", "creepy", and "weird"; largely from having spent most of their lives in the evangelical sub-culture/ghetto, and not understanding how to live in a way, or of the need to live in a way, that was attractive to, and connected with, those outside of the system, but instead living a faith walk that was all about using evangelical wording, and blindly following the subculture, instead of thinking thoughtfully about life,art, culture, the Bible, faith, and meaning.

Some of Mark Driscoll's thinking, such as his views on the Avatar movie being "satanic", would fit into this understanding of the word. In this understanding the person who wasn't religious wouldn't rail so much against the movie in a silly way, as much as find a way to have a good conversation with people about it.

Now that I'm in the Anglican movement I'm finding that most people are more religious in the "classic" sense, and less so in the way I mentioned above. My wifes parents are Catholic and I find that it's much the same with them.

By the way there have been books written about a "spirit of religion" that, in the writer's views at least, is influencing Christians to think in ways that lead to weird, harmful, or offputting behaviour, which is part of a "demonic ploy" to make the Church less effective. Make of that what you will, but it is some thought provoking stuff.

Edited by Attica

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mrmando   

The word religion is one of those words that has grown to have different meaning in different Christian communities.

Correct, but the particular definition in play here has never gained any traction outside of those communities. A few months ago some evangelical leader or other opined that Mitt Romney belonged to a "cult"; the ensuing nationwide discussion made it clear that there are at least five distinct definitions of that term ... but in the case of "cult," at least the evangelical definition has enough currency to be listed in dictionaries.

When I was in the Evangelical movement my understanding of someone who was religious, was someone who was "naive", "creepy", and "weird"; largely from having spent most of their lives in the evangelical sub-culture/ghetto, and not understanding how to live in a way, of the need to live in a way, that was attractive to, and connected with, those outside of the system.

In that sense, someone like Bethke, who uses emergent groupspeak without being aware of it, would be particularly "religious." Ha!

Edited by mrmando

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Attica   

In that sense, someone like Bethke, who uses emergent groupspeak without being aware of it, would be particularly "religious." Ha!

Yes. In this understanding, and the understanding presented in the book I had mentioned, "religion" or "religiosity" could also be found in the Emergent Church. Although, from what I've observed, a lot of the emergent folks are there because they are fleeing from what I had mentioned above.

Edited by Attica

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Attica   

Isn't taking vows something that religious people do?

Actually some feel that the Bible kind of warns against taking a vow. I'm not sure how, say, monastic communities who have monastic vows, interpret those scriptures but I have some Mennonite friends who are very opposed to taking vows as in their tradition (and there are different branches of Mennonite belief) taking a vow of any sort is a big no no. This would include vowing on the Bible in court.

Edited by Attica

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mrmando   

Well, does trading evangelical subculture for emergent subculture result in a net gain, in terms of being able to communicate outside the system? Or does it just lead to further isolation?

It's worth noting that Bethke has issued several mea culpas regarding the use of the "religion" in the video, and is getting high marks for the way he's handled criticism.

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mrmando   

Actually the Bible kind of warns against taking a vow.

Well, it warns against oaths. "Swear not at all...," etc., from the Sermon on the Mount.

I'm not sure how, say, monastic communities who have monastic vows, interpret those scriptures.

I'm sure Peter or SDG can furnish an answer. There must be a distinction to be made between a vow and an oath. After all, Paul takes a "Nazarite vow" in Acts.

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Attica   

Actually the Bible kind of warns against taking a vow.

Well, it warns against oaths. "Swear not at all...," etc., from the Sermon on the Mount.

I'm not sure how, say, monastic communities who have monastic vows, interpret those scriptures.

I'm sure Peter or SDG can furnish an answer. There must be a distinction to be made between a vow and an oath. After all, Paul takes a "Nazarite vow" in Acts.

Yeah I hadn't thought about the Nazarite vow. Once again it comes down to an understanding of a word, which is one of the problems with English (probably more than most languages), and some of our subcultures, in that our understanding of words is constantly in flux.

FWIW my understanding of an oath (or maybe vow) would include what is known as "inner vows", for example, someone who continually says in their heart something like, "I'm a loser, and worthless, and I'll never make it in life", then they possibly could cause themselves spiritual problems, and "train" their heart (in a certain sense) to believe this to the point that it becomes awfully hard for them to see/believe otherwise. I also know of people who have made "oaths" to such things as some of the offshoots of Free-Masonry, that have caused spiritual problems.

Of course I'm not trying to tie Monastic vows, into the same spiritual place as free masonry. Several years ago I entered a Christian order, and I asked if it was alright to make promises instead of "vows" and they were fine with that. Not that I'm necessarily against making vows in Christian orders (at least those that are really Christian), but I didn't know enough about the matter, and was inclined to stay inside my comfort zone.

As well, obviously, there is also the matter of marriage vows.

Edited by Attica

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Attica   

Well, does trading evangelical subculture for emergent subculture result in a net gain, in terms of being able to communicate outside the system? Or does it just lead to further isolation?

That's a very good question. Of course evangelical subculture came out of fundamentalism, and was at the time at least partially and attempt to, um, evangelize, people. I'd argue that evangelicalism, from the start, has had a big emphasis on drawing people in, what with the revival tent meetings, and various "crusades". The emergent church seems to have more of an interest in getting out there and connecting with the people culturally, through art, music and what not whearas the Evangelicals have leaned towards creating their own subculture through which they try to draw people in. So it seems to me that even if they do have/create a language barrier, the Emergent group has an advantage over some evangelicals in communicating outside the system. Of course this is all generally speaking, and not taking into account different churches,and individual personalities and such within them. It also probably comes down to our society....... I'd think that it's safe to say that the evangelical way worked a whole lot better 30 years ago, than it would now.

Edited by Attica

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mrmando wrote:

: If, as Bethke says repeats what he heard Mark Driscoll say, religion is man's attempt to reach God, and Christianity is God's attempt to reach man . . .

Bah. That motto hardly started with Mark Driscoll. I think I first came across it in a Christian Archie comic back in the '70s or early '80s.

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mrmando   

Bah. That motto hardly started with Mark Driscoll. I think I first came across it in a Christian Archie comic back in the '70s or early '80s.

Oh, I don't doubt it at all. That Mark Driscoll gets his theology from comic books, I mean. I read a Christian Archie comic once, but the only thing I remember learning is that Jughead says grace before he tucks into a two-foot-high sandwich.

Seriously, by observing that Bethke got his ideas from Driscoll, I don't mean to suggest that Driscoll is the original source of the ideas.

Regarding the vows, I've got nothing whatsoever against men vowing to have strong marriages. But [a] some things that happen in a marriage are beyond a man's control (no man can guarantee that he will have Christian grandchildren, no matter how many vows he takes); the role of the wife in these vows seems curiously passive; [c] it is at least in part by the grace of God, not by the man's effort alone, that strong marriages will come about. Here lies another irony: on one hand you've got Driscoll coming down hard for grace and against piety when he talks about "Jesus vs. religion," but when the rubber meets the road in a marriage, suddenly grace is out of the window and it's all up to the man's piety.

Edited by mrmando

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mrmando   

So that list of vows is just the beginning of the Driscoll Approach to Marriage: He's got a new book out.

Sojourners reviewed the book, and makes it sound pretty nasty ... but is it the common practice at Sojourners for book reviewers to psychoanalyze an author on the basis of his book, on the one hand, while claiming on the other hand that the author isn't qualified to practice therapy?

I don't see any psychiatry or counseling credentials listed for the reviewers, either ...

Edited by mrmando

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mrmando   

FWIW my understanding of an oath (or maybe vow) would include what is known as "inner vows", for example, someone who continually says in their heart something like, "I'm a loser, and worthless, and I'll never make it in life", then they possibly could cause themselves spiritual problems, and "train" their heart (in a certain sense) to believe this to the point that it becomes awfully hard for them to see/believe otherwise.

Negative self-talk as a "vow"? It's a very interesting idea. I don't know if it's a theologically accurate one, but I do think it's correct to infer that self-loathing is not part of what God intends for us.

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Attica   

FWIW my understanding of an oath (or maybe vow) would include what is known as "inner vows", for example, someone who continually says in their heart something like, "I'm a loser, and worthless, and I'll never make it in life", then they possibly could cause themselves spiritual problems, and "train" their heart (in a certain sense) to believe this to the point that it becomes awfully hard for them to see/believe otherwise.

Negative self-talk as a "vow"? It's a very interesting idea. I don't know if it's a theologically accurate one, but I do think it's correct to infer that self-loathing is not part of what God intends for us.

I'm not sure if it's negative self talk as much as a way of "vowing" to be worthless, ect.

It's the concept of people making "oaths" (vows?) in their lives, especially childhood, that have affected them later on in life. For example if if a child is shamed as a kind in playing a musical instrument and says a strong, forceful vow in their heart, to never play that instrument again, it will have an affect later in life. This could be a reason for some of the things we do that are so illogical. Also, in this idea, a child who was mentally or physically abused could have said many "innervows" that are part of the reasons for issues later on.

I did a google on inner vows and came up with this.

Just so you know, it's only a website I just found, and I have no idea if some of the stuff on it is nutty.

Edited by Attica

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mrmando   

It's on the Internet. Of course it's nutty.

Speaking of nutty, check this out while you can. I am expecting MH lawyers to be all over Matthew Paul Turner very soon for unauthorized use of the MH logo. I do not wish to suggest that church discipline is a bad idea, but is this the form it should take?

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