Friday, October 24, 2008


I have just about finished reading the David Kinnamon book UnChristian. It was picked by a colleague for a reading group, and 20 profs have copies. Kinnamon works for Barna (or did) and used pretty extensive research to find out how "Busters" and "Mosaics" (young people about up the age of 30) think about religion, or really, Christianity. The three words that rise to the top in his group's evaluation of "us" is hypocritical, antihomosexual, and judgmental. A big section of the book is Kinnamon's (and his co-author, Gabe Lyons') prescription for improving our public image.

Well, there are a lot of ways I could critique this book, but one of them is not their sincerity. These men want young people to come to the Lord and feel their advice will help. And their advice is Biblical, for the most part. I do not know where they come down on the emergent church movement, which I am trying to understand and find a little confounding.

My negative view of UnChristian is first a gut one: you can lump me in with the hypocrites, but you don't know me and your lumping doesn't make me one. I am tired to being blamed for something Pope Urban did over 1000 years ago, or for slaveholders. If fear and guilt are used too much, people shut down, and I shut down in response to these criticisms. I cannot on my own turn the tide on the supposed decline in perceptions of the church. The problem is just too big for one reader.

My second view is to dismiss the views of people who themselves are hypocritical and judgmental. Who are they to judge me, whom they call judgmental? Aren't they hypocritical in their ways? The only way to be unhypocritical is to have to standards and to profess no standards; then you can't fall short of them, intentionally or unintentionally. Furthermore, I do live what I confess. I fail and am imperfect, but in the big picture I am very consistent and think most true Christians are, also.

As for the anti-homosexual part, that's touchy (sorry). Yes, the church is anti-homosexual. It's because we have to be anti-homosexual behavior, and we do not have either the nuance, good sense, or spiritual sensitivity to separate the two cleanly. But one-by-one, we try to love them; I really think most of us do, although probably not very well or at least not very convincingly.

But I am naive, of course.


Pastor Joe said...

Thanks for your comments! I had the benefit of hearing David Kinnamon speak at the Pastor's Conference at Moody this May. I must admit that I struggle with the findings of his research, yet as I listen to my brothers and sisters in Christ, I understand why our younger generation feels these things about Christians. As a pastor desiring to reach the postmodern generation, I realize that I must understand what they are thinking and how they see things in order to be effective. Of course, this does not happen at the expense of preaching the Gospel or communicating Biblical truth.
One last thought, on the subject of sexuality this Biblical call is for holiness. Why does the church appear to hate homosexuality above so many other sins?

Barbara Tucker said...

Thank you for your comments, ha, ha, as you can see I don't get many. I just read Generation Me by Jean Twenge, sort of a secular version of Kinnamon's research. While I don't like my feelings of being attacked by their findings (as if I'm responsible for the sin the generation me folks see in the church, or claim to see), if I'm honest there is plenty of hypocrisy and just plain sin. I think the divorce rate is the clearest symptom, and these young folks have grown up with it, few unaffected directly. We need awesome wisdom to empathize with their experience but stand alone on Biblical truth.

I work in a secular college, and the homosexual issue is a tough one for me. You are right--we can't act like homosexual sin is the source of all problems when the huge majority of people in the U.S. live in or accept heterosexual immorality in a blase manner. On the other hand, I think there are issues involved with same sex attraction and activity that put it in a different category; the disease factor, for one, and the way it redefines marriage or family if we accept it as a legitimate or quasi-legitimate alternative to heterosexual relationships. On top of that, I have a feeling from watching young people that the acceptance of homosexuality encourages them to experiment and go in directions that they wouldn't if they knew it was "shameful" or socially taboo.

Love the sinner, hate the sin. And in loving the sinner, we can't lose sight of how harmful sin is. I have a good friend who is a lesbian, and family members involved in this "lifestyle." It's a tough road to walk, but the truth is the truth.

But you are a pastor--you know this more than I! God bless you in your work.

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