Jay Bakker, son Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, published a recent commentary on cnn.com. Jay Bakker is currently the pastor of Revolution Church and stars in a documentary entitled "One Punk Under God." He recently wrote an article entitled, "What the Hell Happened to Christianity?" in conjunction with fellow Revolution staff person Marc Brown. Below is the link. I trust you will find it as well written and nuanced an article as the title suggests.
The only thing that could have been added to the article to make their case even more compelling WOULD HAVE BEEN TYPING IN ALL CAPS, a rhetorical effect often used by those with nothing compelling to say. What an incredibly poorly argued and written piece…how did they get it published? I think this would be my favorite section:
“So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today? Some say it was during the rise of Conservative Christianity in the early 1980s with political action groups like the Moral Majority. Others say it goes way back to the 300s, when Rome's Christian Emperor Constantine initiated a set of laws limiting the rights of Roman non-Christians.”
I appreciate how their firm grasp of church history helps them narrow down the rise of these insidious hate mongers from sometime in the fourth century to the 1980s.
Coming in second would be this section:
“His [Jesus'] parables and lessons were focused on love and forgiveness, a message of "come as you are, not as you should be." The bulk of his time was spent preaching about helping the poor and those who are unable to help themselves. At the very least, Christians should be counted on to lend a helping hand to the poor and others in need.
“This brings us to the big issues of American Christianity: Abortion and gay marriage. These two highly debatable topics will not be going away anytime soon. Obviously, the discussion centers around whether they are right or wrong, but is the screaming really necessary? After years of witnessing the dark side of religion, Marc and I think not."
I think the incoherence of their writing should speak for itself. But, just in case, let me give my two cents. I think their "argument" can be reconstructed as follows: (1) Jesus wants Christians to love, forgive, and help the poor. (2) [awkward segue alert] This brings us to abortion and gay marriage (?!?!). (3) A discussion of these issues is "obviously" about whether they are right or not. (4) Don't scream.
If I follow Bakker and company's argument, I arrive at a rather confusing place. First, I commit to caring for the poor (big fan of this, so no problem). Then, I am forced to consider whether abortion and gay marriage are right or wrong. This, according to the article, is the key issue, but interestingly enough they never mention where they come down on these issues. Finally, if I do believe that abortion is wrong, I have no idea how I am to respond. By feeding the poor?
Of course Christians should be at the forefront of caring for the poor and disenfranchised. That's why my wife and I are adopting. Of course Christians should be gentle and loving in their response to evils such as abortion. That's why the church is repulsed by extremists who commit violent acts in the name of Christ. But what Bakker and his fellow Revolutionary seemingly fail to grasp is that the real problem is not that there are some extremists who give the church a bad name but that the church itself has an intellectual and moral vacuum. We have failed to think carefully about how we are to give a strong, rational, cogent, loving response to a culture that embraces a worldview that is radically different from our own. The answer lies not in merely feeding the poor, or being more "loving", or in screaming REAL LOUDLY. It lies in having our thinking transformed by the Word and then filtering our culture through that grid. An article that is based on such careful thinking would be worth reading.