Culture / Witness

When Christians are Culturally Post-Christian

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Christians who are part of big churches or living in predominantly Christian regions may not feel it yet.

But most Christians I know in the US are experiencing the post-Christian shift. It’s humbling as we watch Christendom crumble and many of us are glad to see how it’s purifying the church, painful though it may be.

But how are we also, for all our Christian claims, culturally post-Christian? In our embarrassment with what the church has been, have we also forgotten what is intrinsic to our faith?

This question arises in many ways but I’d like to explore it through one theme: Power. Our setting aside of inherently Christian things in this post-Christian shift has been most evident to me as we wrestle with two ways our power has been abused.

1. Our Own Power

Shot Down

After generations of Christians using their influence to manipulate and impress others, we’re all a little leadership-shy. I feel it too. Not only has the old, human-power approach to leadership modeled something unscriptural, it has directly told me I, as a woman, have no place.

But the Bible still says we have authority. So, out of faith, in spite of the cynicism in my own heart and around me, I have chosen to express the authority I have received from my submission to God. When I have it’s surprising how often I get shot down, not from the establishment and not because I’m a woman. But because post-Christian Christians don’t speak with authority anymore.

I get shot down because post-Christian Christians don’t speak with authority anymore. Click To Tweet

Post-Power

Given all that it takes for me to override my own cynicism it’s hard for me to hear the responses from other Christians. All of them have come from friends in the heart of arguably the most Post-power of Post-power places: Enlightened White Men.

I appreciate how my white male friends are aware of the historical abuse of power and privilege. Many are so concerned about potential abuse that they’re crippled with guilt. And beyond questioning their own authority, some even question if any kind of leadership is necessary, whether it’s Christlike for one person to make decisions or cast vision on behalf of others.

I know exactly what they mean.

I have personally experienced the abuses of white male power. And I’ve been guilty of some power abuse of my own. But I still feel called to the role of leadership that God has given me. And I still see Jesus casting vision, and developing leaders, inviting but not manipulating.

In a Post-Power, Post-Christian place, how can we humbly claim the authority that grows from our submission to God? How can we reclaim leadership without the abuses of the past? Perhaps we need it now more than ever.

2. The Power of the Spirit

Don’t Be Shy

Although I’m surrounded by Christians I rarely hear the words “God will provide.” And it’s surprising how often other Christians shoot me down when I claim God can speak or do miracles or protect us. I get it.

After generations of Christians using the power of the Spirit to impress or manipulate others, we’re all a little Spirit-shy. I feel it too. But the bible still says the Spirit does these crazy things. So, out of faith, in spite of the cynicism in my own heart and around me, this week I chose to proclaim an end to my Spirit-shyness by posting this on Facebook:

“If I believed I’m filled with the spirit of the living God, I would do crazy things. Like pray for healing, speak peace in discord, call out evil, live like I’m invincible. When I choose to live like that, even when I don’t feel or understand it, the power becomes real.”

After generations of using the power of the Spirit to impress or manipulate, we’re Spirit-shy. Click To Tweet

Invincible

Given all that it took for me to override my own cynicism it was hard for me to hear the responses from other Christians. One came from a friend in the heart of arguably the most Post-Christian of Post-Christian places: Britain.

“How does the word ‘invincible’ really work in an American Christian setting? I don’t think it would fly here. Christians who say things like this may be being truthful, but as a doubter a lot of the time, I can certainly say they are almost always bloody annoying.

All too often, they are also able to fall away from their certainty. It takes a lot of energy to live like this, even if you are really supposed to be relying on the Lord for your strength. And, as with (famous Christian tele-evangelist), if your conviction lapses, it just ends up being seen as proving that you never believed properly in the first place.”

I know exactly what he means.

And I still need the spirit’s power. How can we claim the untarnished power of the Spirit in a Post-Christian place? How can we reclaim the Spirit without the abuses of the past? Perhaps we need it now more than ever.

“Without the Spirit’s power discipleship gets tamed or toned down to what seems humanly possible, simply reasonable, and culturally appropriate.

After Christendom that isn’t enough.”

Leonard Allen

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