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Chapter 5 - Christian Brands
One might see that a religion like Islam or Mormonism might be sought by those less interested in doctrinal truth than the “truth” of the promise of a well ordered family life. That Christianity no longer has even this vestige of testimony speaks volumes of how much has been lost. In the marketplace of religion most people are less interested in the afterlife than what they can have now. Today Christianity can be seen to exist in four main divisions.
1. Legacy. These churches are losing members fast. The only momentum they seem to have is generational inertia and the comfort of the familiar.In the face of rapidly declining membership, these churches often veer into liberal or experiential directions.
2. Conservative. These churches seem to offer the well ordered family life that Islam and Mormonism seem to promise, but those who do not smoke, drink, play cards, or dance often do so in the strength of the flesh. In a way it attempts to present an image or shell of what unconstrained Christianity would produce. It is sad that it is often achieved through the power of self-righteousness rather than self-sacrifice.
3. Experiential. These churches can range from the rock music format to the deception that supernatural gifts are being demonstrated to healings and promises of prosperity. In a way, this sort of self-stimulation produces feelings sensation and the “experience” sort of stimulates emotional thrills that are more closely associated with the worship of the golden calf by Israel at Mt. Sinai.
4. Liberal. A German historian once referred to political liberalism as secularized Christianity. Instead of the humility that should drive selflessness, one finds a sort of self-righteousness that seeks to make others do what is “good". The idea that “good” should be done with little idea of what good even is much less how it could be collectively imposed. It tends towards collectivism as this appears to be the mechanism to enforce their ideas of “goodness".
These four categories are all defined largely by the emotional feelings they generate which diverts one to the selfishness of the flesh instead of the selflessness that Christianity was supposed to be about. It can be difficult for someone “church shopping” to find a church that is not feeling based. Most claim to have “truth”, but in practice seems to elevate that which makes one feel good.
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