Hipster Christianity

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial up about the current efforts to re-brand evangelical Christianity in order to make it more palatable to the younger set. Entitled The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity, the author is not real wild about the attempts to use new media and new tactics.

In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells writes:”The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.”

I find this attitude odd.

There’s a line – I believe it’s from Rob Bell – that every 500 years the church has shaken itself. That’s simplistic; in truth, there have been any number of occasions in which the church has nearly shaken itself to pieces. Several of those periods came within the centuries after the conversion of Constantine, like the Arian crisis, the expulsion of the Nestorians or the long-running conflict with the monophysites.

At each point, part of Christianity has branched off and part remained tied to the Empire. Most modern Christians are descended from one branch. But is it the right branch? Is this the branch that is right by God?

I don’t know of too many evangelical Christians who mull over the arguments of the Donatists or the Arians. They accept that the branch they were born into was rightly guided – ironically, by the same church fathers, bishops and emperors that evangelicals now sneer at for being “too Catholic.” They accept the canon as it was defined by these men and these traditions that come down through the councils.

I suppose the only thing you can do is to have faith that you’re sitting on the right branch because God guided things. But if God was guiding things then, why not now?

I sometimes hear Evangelicals declaring that Satan is behind this or that church movement. But why would Satan waste his time dealing with some white upper-middle class hipster douchebags who are probably going to have enough trouble explaining to St. Peter why they lived high on the hog while half of the planet starved?

No, if Satan’s got the brains of a doorknob, he’s going back in time and whispering in the ear of Athanasius and convincing him that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. In one swoop he’d have driven a wedge between Christians and Jews and (later) Muslims, as well as muddying the waters of monotheism.

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