Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Theological Dangers of Duality

I worked for a professor who was also a licensed professional counselor during my time in seminary. He counseled church leaders and it amazed me how many of these pastors, elders, etc. were addicted to porn, closet alcoholics, physically abusive...you name it.

I quickly learned that it is not unusual for a pastor to live two lives--the spotless minister and the closet sinner (the latter is only seen by the man's family). One of the reasons for this is the pressure that churches have long put on members, and especially leaders, to act a certain way, dress a certain way, speak a certain way, etc.

There is an unspoken rule in most evangelical churches that you will play a part that has been written for you based upon the culture at large, a twisted view of Scripture and the church's adoption of Victorianism during the 19th century. The result is that ministers end up "playing a part" at church and soon their entire Christian walk is nothing more then an act and the results are frequently disastrous.

Therefore, the early Emergent criticism that evangelical churches are not "authentic" is accurate. Our lack of transparency, quick judgmentalism, adoption of Victorianism (don't drink, don't cuss, don't watch R-rated movies, etc.) and adoption of the culture's gross consumerism (not "biblical literalism") is what is killing the church and, frankly, certain churches need to die.

I spent years playing the part. I was (and am) a bi-vocational pastor who dutifully wore my suit to work, my khakis to church and watched my language in public only to run home throw on my favorite camo pants & an Ozzy tee, crack open a beer and turn on "South Park" I felt like a hypocrite and painfully remembered the pastors who sought counseling from my former prof.

So, now if you see me out dressed like a roadie for Demon Hunter, sipping a beer and talking about "Lil' Bush" (which is hysterical, by the way) then get over it. Let me remind you that Jesus, John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul used language that was considered profane for their day, that Jesus' first public miracle was to turn water into wine (or, as Mark Driscoll puts it, Jesus' 1st miracle was to open the bar! and yes, Jewish wine was fermented), and the early church could not avoid seeing things that populate R-rated movies as ancient bordellos were often open for the public to view, etc. If you are really interested in this then I suggest you begin by picking up the book "Pop Culture Wars", which documents the history of the strange turn the church has taken in relation to what parts of culture it opposes.

In short, the church needs to stop majoring on minors and get to its real work which includes being a place where everybody can be themselves as long as they are dedicated to also following Jesus...and no...that's not always a contradiction.