Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Jeff Jarvis has a interesting rant in his blog that begs to be responded to. “For a long time -- back to my days as a TV critic -- I have had a running fit about mainstream religion conceding the pulpit of popular culture, media, and the masses to the nuts of fundamentalism. We do not see mainstream preachers on TV in this country; we see the edge of religion. Mainstream religion sees TV and the masses it represents as beneath them. Big mistake. “ I’ll assume that we’ll translate “fundamentalist” as someone who take the Bible at face value and “mainstream” as someone who does not. For many center-left denominations (United Methodist, Presbyterian (PCUSA), Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), etc.) that would be considered “mainstream” or “mainline”, there has been a gradual drift away from taking the Bible at face value. If the Bible and modern culture are at odds, the “mainstream” church will fudge towards the culture. The mainstreamer will say, “The Bible was written 2000 years ago, it needs to be modified to speak to today’s culture.” Rather than show where the culture has go astray, the mainstreamer will modify the church’s theology to be easier on the ears of the parishioners. If people are offended that they are sinners, don’t mention it. If staying celibate before marriage isn’t going over well, chuck those fornication passages. If “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father but through me” is too divisive, we’ll leave that out, too. Thus, there won’t be much difference between a mainstream sermon and an Oprah show. Since she does a better job of speaking to the masses, why should they listen to some stodgy sermon? If the church starts to reflect culture rather than critique it, it becomes irrelevant. There is a reason that mainline denominations are losing people and evangelical churches are adding them. If you have multiple ways to spend your Sunday morning, you’ll only spend it in a sanctuary or Sunday School classroom if you get more out of church than playing Nintendo or watching Sam and Cokie. Evangelical churches are less fearful about offending people. They know that they’re not perfect, that God is and that Jesus died to bridge that great divide. They preach Jesus as an is, not a was. They give what Oprah doesn’t, a living God whose Holy Spirit is “in the house,” comforting and guiding us through the rough patches. It’s true that a lot of televangelists leave a bit to be desired, especially some of the “name-it-and-claim-it” prosperity gospel guys, who try and weld the American Dream into the Kingdom of God. However, they are presenting a hands-on God who makes a difference in people's lives, rather than the distant psuedo-deist God of the mainliners.That's why they're on TV and the mainliners aren't

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