challenging assumptions

Religion is full of beliefs and practices that carry with them a whole host of assumptions that are taken for granted, yet oftentimes profoundly impact the way religion is lived out. Evangelical Christianity is no exception.

Personally, I've found it helpful to consider the assumptions I've adopted. Such consideration prevents my faith from becoming a bunch of routine practices or shallow and naïve beliefs. I want to know why I believe what I believe and why I act how I act. I think such questioning is a natural part of maturity, regardless of your religion/worldview.

So I was challenged to read this list of evangelical assumptions from Hugh Halter. He offers them to point out how easy it is to stray from what Jesus actually taught. While caricatures, no doubt, see if some of these resonate with - and perhaps challenge - your assumptions:
  • Western ways of doing things are intrinsically superior to Eastern ways.
  • Truth is ultimately a body of propositions rather than a Person--a doctrinal download that we are to download to others.
  • It is wise to invest my money in financially prospering neighborhoods because I will get the best return on my money rather than investing in a poor neighborhood where the return might be eternal but not monetary.
  • The kingdom is in the afterlife, so there's no need to help folks on this side of eternity. What matters is whether we get them into "the kingdom," another word for "heaven."
  • Jesus prefers me to spend most of my time with other Christians.
  • The best investment of time and energy in relationships should be determined by what I get in return.
  • My family should have the best of everything, and I define "best" as life in a safe neighborhood with good schools and where government and social services work well.
  • My job as a parent is to protect my kids, avoid anything that could hurt them, and pray that they will always stay in church. Never mind preparing them to live a life of sacrificial mission in a wider culture.
  • Stewardship is giving God 10 percent of my money after taxes instead of seeing everything as truly his to be used for his purposes.
  • An increase in my income is a way to enjoy a better lifestyle, not a way to bless more people.
  • Planning for retirement means laying aside enough money to ensure that I can maintain the lifestyle I am used to and comfortable with.
  • Holiness is defined in terms of what I don't do instead of how much I act like Jesus did, with the kind of people Jesus loved. Holiness is separating me and my friends and family from the dark and dirty world.
  • The Good News is a message I should communicate verbally. Good deeds are for those liberal churches. My job is to get the message out, and if people don't respond, they'll sadly burn in hell.
  • Salvation is only for those who have prayed the right prayer of repentance to God.
  • Discipleship is growing in head knowledge about God and not doing any of the "biggie" sins.
  • My relationship with God is "personal," with very little emphasis on faith in the context of a committed community.
(Hugh Halter, Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus)

2 comments:

Ryan said...

Ouch, ouch, ouch...

This one in particular stopped me in my tracks:

"My job as a parent is to protect my kids, avoid anything that could hurt them, and pray that they will always stay in church. Never mind preparing them to live a life of sacrificial mission in a wider culture."

Ouch.

David Warkentin said...

Yeah, for many of them I was thinking, "Yeah, not me. Thanks goodness!"

Then I read the ones on family and finances and couldn't so easily pat myself on the back.

Post a Comment