What is an “Amercanized” Christanity?
Maybe, in part, it’s a blend of American culture bleeding into Kingdom culture, frustrating the grace of God, domesticating the call of God, culturizing the Jesus of the four gospels; it’s a hybrid of the real, a new product, a uniquely American version…one the early church would be unfamiliar with.
Americanization- it can even subvert our interpretation of Scripture in a way that is consistent not with authorial intent, but our own culture…there are many other examples but for instance, when the chief concern with other religions and minorities (i.e. Muslims) is that they are a threat to America…the church takes a similar position putting up walls instead of showing all people the unconditional love of Christ.
Here’s a few ways to identify “American Christianity”, there are many more:
1.If one looks at the early Christians in disbelief over what they find. Often, from an American mindset, original Christianity and the first Christians appear way too radical for 2016 America…too COUNTER-culture.
2.If the church embraces Paul’s teaching on women “being silent in the church” but Jesus’s teaching on enemy love is somehow open to a thousand degrees of nuance.
Paul wrote letters to specific churches addressing specific problems that had a specific context. Yet in a society that is still wrestling with patriarchy and sexism, we take one verse in Paul’s letter to a specific church 2000 years ago and make it a blanket prohibition for all times and cultures. But when we get to Jesus saying “love your enemies” we abandon that same hermeneutic and say, “Well, Jesus couldn’t have meant we’re to love EVERYBODY at all times”.
Again, it’s Americanization- we interpret scripture in a way that is consistent not with authorial intent, but our own culture.
3.If the church takes on an American view of different people groups.
I mean for a nation of immigrants, American culture can have a shockingly hostile posture toward them. When this bleeds into our Christianity, the church can adopt a hostile posture as well – yet the primary posture of a Christian is that of radical love towards ALL people groups…including immigrants of every color, nation and social status.
4.If the church is more concerned with electing a Republican president than the expansion of the Kingdom, the latter being God’s way of changing everything. America invites the church to view political power and force of government as the solution to the world’s problems.
5.If the church seems generally uninterested in a current theology that points to Jesus, teaching us how to read the bible in a NEW way; like Jesus…through His filter, not the Americanized filter…a way that points to and highlights Him and the radical message of His Kingdom.
Though many are hungry, it is still true that many mainstream Evangelicals aren’t interested in learning anything that is new or different from what they think they already know – even if that new knowledge comes straight from the Bible itself. New learning is conditioned upon whether or not it reenforces what folks already believe. There’s little room for growth, reinterpretation, or the constant need for contextualization of the scriptures.
But God is up to something…I rejoice over getting to live in a time when a fresh expression of the reality of Jesus and the seed of His Kingdom, embodied in this next generation, is beginning to greatly impact North America…planted in cities coast to coast, “unmixing” the church:
An upside-down Kingdom growing in upside-down ways…
Communities so different people say, “They’ve been with Jesus”…
Not warning people about hell…but welcoming people HOME.