The Hidden Messages of American Christianity

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Reading between the linesThis is a notice of an upcoming series of posts on American Christianity and its hidden messages. What’s a hidden message? Usually, it’s a well-intentioned message that has unforeseen negative consequences, or it’s a message that was never intended in the first place, but assumes prominence.

The Gospel is fairly clear, but our transmission of it periodically suffers. Likewise, the American Church has bound up the truth of Christianity with American Manifest Destiny and that old classic, the American Dream. The result is that the world perceives a bizarre mish-mash of pseudo-Christian ideals coming out of the American Church. What makes these hidden messages so pernicious is that no matter our church slant (traditional, emerging, charismatic, mainline, evangelical, or fundamentalist), we can fall into these hidden messages.

This series will be a little different. Rather than pontificating off the top of my own head all the time, if there is a hidden message that particularly sticks in your craw, e-mail me and I’ll write about it. Have a great week!

The Series so far:

1. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: Classism

2. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: Kneeling at the Altar of Excellence

3. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: Correctness Before Love

4. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: Pastor O’Gill and the Little People

5. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: “We’re Cool, Too!”

6. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: “Family Cocooning Session: No Trespassing Allowed!”

7. Hidden Messages of American Christianity: The Outstretched Hand

6 thoughts on “The Hidden Messages of American Christianity

  1. Helen

    The Purpose Driven Life. I think it is a dangerous message. To many pastors are jumping on the bandwagon without really studying the underlying message.

  2. Gaddabout

    Hey, I think I can name one that has nothing to do with the usual suspects of torchered theology.

    Comfort Christianity — a viral theology that God has a plan for you, and that plan just happens to coincide with your town’s or city’s economic development agenda. It is a theology that states God does not want you to live an uncomfortable life — much more deceptive and infinitely more pervasive in the American Church than health/wealth dogma that’s right out there and easy to spot. It is a theology without a doctrine of suffering, and is suburban nearly to the point of exclusion.

    Unlike health/wealth teachers, who at least urge their followers to go to God, Comfort Christianity urges Christians to wait on God’s promise of the suburban dream.

    Comfort Christianity is openly hostile to a radical Gospel message.

  3. Ronni

    I too share the discontent and concern about the “faith” movement… teaching that God will give us all middle class lifestyles of comfort and if we don’t live that way, then we must be out of God’s will. That along with the fence riding of certain “national” ministries is really bugging me. *sigh*

    So let us hear it Dan! 😀

  4. Anonymous

    How about God believes in laissez-faire capitolism and republican (with a little r) democracy? I seem to recall that if God ever backed a form of government it was tribal anarchy…

  5. Anonymous

    How about,

    “You can’t be Christian if you’re a [insert favorite political party here]”

    “You can’t be Christian if you’re [insert liberal or conservative here]”

    “If you’re rich it’s because you’re spiritual”

    “If you’re going through trials it’s because you’ve sinned”

    “If you’re in pain, it’s because God doesn’t love you as much”

    “God is a Republican”

    “God is a Democrat”

    “We need to have 501c(3) status to operate as a church”

    “The end times are not coming; Revelation is a lie”

    “We don’t need to be relevant to the culture”

    “We don’t need to speak truth to power”

    “We don’t need to do what Jesus said to do, we just need to believe”

    How many do you want?

  6. Mike

    I seem to recall that if God ever backed a form of government it was tribal anarchy…

    Well, then, I think it is safe to say that your “recaller” is broken.

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