As I have said all along, any evidence to contradict my suspicion was welcome. Thankfully I can declare myself in error because very distinct evidence has been provided! The following is the audio from Rob Bell’s sermon on Easter Sunday 2010:
In pockets of the United States are swarms of atheists. Centered around institutions of higher learning, these intellectual folk are hot for debate and hot for religion, just not in any way that would be supported by the local Christian church. Yet, housed within these groups is something intriguing, that they even do not realize is there. The seed of truth that has lain dormant for so long is germinating in this oddly fertile soil.
The “Good without God” campaign seeks to canvas the country with billboards and fliers announcing that it is possible to be a moral person without belief in a Higher Power of any sort. Even in nearby Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University, a humanist group started a controversial bus ad campaign declaring that people all over the world do not believe in God and still are able to resist committing murder, adultery, and theft. Oddly enough, with full agreement, the church may find the answer to its current identity crisis.
It may be surprising to hear, but as a disciple of Christ I believe that what he said was true and that he really meant it. Somehow people are more keen to believe in talking donkeys than to take to heart definitive teachings of Jesus.
A story that has been told for 2,000 years is that of a scene when Jesus was cornered by the religious leaders and asked what he thought was the most important commandment in the Law of Moses. Jesus, being astute in the style and strategy of the Pharisees responded:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let’s face it: the church has a serious image problem. The blessing of mass media has swiftly been usurped by the ability for any yahoo, myself included, to publish thoughts and opinions for the entire world to read and discuss. It may be that technology has moved faster than what any of us are able to manage, maintain, and manipulate to send the majority message.
Tuesday Associated Press reported about Tony Alamo, an evangelist who took advantage of young girls and in the name of Jesus sexually abused them and ‘married’ several who had not reached the age of 15. It caught the attention of international media and was reported on the internet, television, and print news. I do not know what group of people agreed that this man was actually a messenger from the same God that I worship, but his “ministry” was worth millions (in fact former charges were filed by the IRS claiming that he owed the government $7.9 million).
This “evangelist” was given a megaphone by the media.
As a testimony to the speed and growth of technology, specifically in terms of the internet the term Web 2.0 is soon to retire. A few months ago I attended a conference geared toward pastors of small congregations which was mainly to educate them about Web 2.0 utilities. Webster’s dictionary just added the term as well, so perhaps this is not another issue where the church is so behind the culture.
What is coming next is being recognized as “Web Squared.” Perhaps the elementary school years of the development of the world wide web as a social network, many are not sure what it will actually entail, except that it will be different and innovative as more and more people participate in its inception.
The morale of the story: get on board with Web 2.0 so you are not completely left in the dust. Create. Imagine. Take steps ahead to see what is around the corner.
The early church was so ahead of the culture that Paul wrote to them to encourage some steps back, for fear that they would alienate those in their immediate culture (i.e. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16).
Perhaps we do not need to go that far, but we can confidently take steps forward, knowing that it is easier to pull back for the sake of relevance than it is to catch up.