On Christian nominalism

Found this post over at Ben Witherington’s blog. Following are a few quick thoughts on the post:

Quote of the Day– $3 dollars worth of God

“It has been said that too many Americans have been innoculated with a slight case of Christianity that is preventing them from getting the real thing. Perhaps this has something to do with how much of God people really want. Here is a quote from Wilbur Rees to make you think:

  • “I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please – not enough to
    explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of
    warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of him to make
    me love a foreigner or pick beets with a migrant worker. I want ecstasy,
    not transformation; I want the warmth of a womb, not a new birth. I want
    a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I’d like to buy $3 worth of God,
    please.”

I especially like the line ‘I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth’. This, I am afraid, is exactly what people want out of their worship and church experiences. Not something that demands them to pick up a cross, make major sacrifices and follow Jesus. Rather, they want something that makes them comfortable with who they already are and how they already are. They want acceptance as they are, not repentance so they can be who they ought to be. Think on these things.”

I find myself thinking quite a bit about the phenomena of nominalism in the church recently, and it is quite a sad and sobering subject; I must confess that I have, over the years, been quite guilty of engaging nominalism in varying degrees. It is also heartbreaking to ponder and observe the ease of entering the on-ramp to the broad gate. Mr. Witherington’s thoughts on being inoculated with a slight case of Christianity resonates with thoughts of mine from a previous post on evangelical methods:

“It as if Jesus is a prescription being dispensed a sick world. It is as if I have a fatal, systemic infection and am given a wonder drug, an antibiotic, and I am being told that all I have to do is take this drug and I will be healed. I may not develop an all encompassing love for this drug; I may love not being sick more than I love the drug. I may become more enamored with and focused on the one who gave me this drug than the drug itself.”

Perhaps the often errant evangelical methods and human-centricity of much of contemporary American Christianity contributes to the volume of traffic on the easy path that terminates with a wide gate. It is an ancient and tragically well-traveled road, though. We have been warned.

  • Matthew 7:13 (ESV)
    “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”
  • Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)
    On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • Mark 4:1-20 (ESV)
    Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Forever secure in His loving grip, I persist.

About Ron

Somewhat quirky and prone to bouts of melancholia. Well-read, tastelessly opinionated and pasta fueled, a saddle tramp. I have not yet discovered my superpowers, but when I do, I will use them for good, not evil.

Posted on April 26, 2008, in Discipleship, Quotes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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