What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity is not a philosophy. Christianity is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh, or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for “repentance” implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.
In that regard, we feel a massive disconnection in the church today. Thus this manifesto.
This is great. But, having worked in a ministry for over a deacade, my next question is, now what?
- Do we emphasise and insist on “Sermon on the Mount” Christianity, as Michael Babcock advocates in UnChristian America?
- Do we finally rid ourselves of Gothardian authoritarianism that we never had rights to, as I advocate in Authority and Evangelical Churches?
- Do we sever the connection between God and country, thus divorcing Christian life from the national one?
- De we ditch any form of prosperity teaching and the close symbosis that Evangelical Christianity has developed with upward social mobility?
- Do we at least cut the Gordian knot on the same-sex civil marriage debate by abandoning civil marriage altogether, recognising that marriage is from God and the state has no business in it?
I understand completely that Christianity is centred in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that it is not merely a set of principles. But once we acknowledge that, we need to work out the practical implications of a Jesus-centred life. Evangelical Christianity has, for a long time, boasted that the way it sets forth is the only way to live that kind of life. (And I’m not referring here simply to the idea that Jesus is the only way to God; Evangelicals, their own propaganda notwithstanding, isn’t alone in affirming this.)
What Sweet and Viola are challenging, whether they realise it or not, is Evangelical Christianity’s triumphalism about themselves and their place in the universe, to say nothing of Christianity. But a successful challenge to that leads to a thorough review of everything else we’re doing.
Let the games begin!