Engaging Culture

What Makes Christianity Better?

Here’s something I’d like your opinion on – in a tolerant world, what makes Christianity rise above just being another “lifestyle choice?”  As we in faith-based media attempt to brand and market churches, ministries, and other religious organizations, how do we position the Christian faith in a post-modern culture, where all choices are supposedly equal?

How is being a Christian any different from being New Age, Wiccan, Muslim, transgendered, or more?  After all, if others are happy with their lifestyle choice, why should Christianity be any better?  And who are we to promote our faith over other choices?

Before you reply – here are two rules:

1.  You can’t quote the Bible, since the culture doesn’t recognize its authority.

2.  You can’t use “Christian lingo.”  You have to dialogue in a language and style the culture understands.

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19 Comments

  1. Other lifestyle choices don’t determin whether or not you’ll burn in Hell or live in Heaven for eternity.

    Christianity is a choice. This choice has rules. These rules require adherence to a lifestyle. If you don’t adhere you will burn in Hell forever. If you do you’ll be welcomed into Heaven forever.

  2. Just like any other lifestyle when one comes to accept the lifestyle they have chosen it is then a sense of pride to share with others the choice they have made. So why should Christianity rise above any other lifestyle? According to our society it is the same. The basic theory behind any lifestyle is to promote and gain more people into the circle or way of life. To attract peers who agree with them and with whom they can communicate. Every human being has an innate desire to belong to something and will often explore many avenues until they find one where they can connect. So we must ask ourselves, what makes any lifestyle right or wrong? Is it a feeling, an urge, an instinct, or perhaps acceptance? A lifestyle choice should not be taken lightly, nor should it be done without much consideration of all the expectations considered. Just like choosing a major in college or a career path. Some people just know what they want to do in life and they go about it and some struggle to find their niche. Those who struggle often will dabble in a few different areas until they find something they are passionate about. Lifestyles choices are much the same way. A specific lifestyle should be chosen based on passion and a desire to make a life changing impact on the world and ones future both here on earth and after one’s life has been taken from them.

  3. I don’t really aspire to live a ‘Christian lifestyle’, I am trying to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus is what makes the difference. God coming to earth as a man. It’s such an amazing concept and reality but we’ve managed to make it bland and tasteless.

    Most ‘lifestyle choices’ have similar attributes. Be good to yourself and others. Be kind. Share the love. Nice ideas but they’re nothing without Jesus. He’s the difference. Surveys continue to show that a lot of people don’t trust ‘the church’ but they think that Jesus was a pretty cool guy. He taught good things and helped people. The challenge is to help people see that he was and is more than just a good guy. If, as the previous poster suggested, Christianity is simply a ticket out of hell, a choice with rules which require an adherance to a particular lifestyle, I’m not interested. I see it more about following and growing closer to Jesus. Yes, that means I’ll spend eternity with him but that’s only part of the picture.

  4. Ah… tremendous concept, Phil. — You are right, we live in a tolerant world, but one that is tolerant of everything except absolutes and Christianity. So your question was, in that world how do we rise above being another lifestle choice, and how would that be seen in our media? To answer this, let’s look at what our evangelical friends would call the “homosexual agenda” and the rest of the world calls the gay lifestyle. Their media was clever. Tons of straight people love “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” – yes, even I have to say it is entertaining stuff. Five flaming guys show straight guys how they have so much to teach us. They interact with straight guys, invade their space, change their clothes, their hair, their attitude, and tell them how to succeed at relationships (with girls). They made fun of themselves. They made people laugh. And now, many people are not as weirded out by gays. I mean, I would never go to a gay bar to learn about these guys, but I watched the show, and Tivoed it for a while. So, suppose we as Christians — in many people’s minds even stranger than homosexuals — did TV where we showed good looking, successful, fun Christians helping people, showed how we could laugh at ourselves, showed the transformation in a person’s life that resulted from being with us… and didn’t ask them for money in the process. All of this without showing a church service, without shouting, without anything judgemental… what would happen? This would not work on Christian TV. It needs to be on Bravo, or USA or some other secular network. Queer Eye did not show up on Logo — no one in the show’s target audience would have watched it. So, this show has to be great, needs to get audience share to get commercial sponsors, and needs to be in prime time. Nah, I must be crazy, it’ll never work, let’s just put another Sunday morning service on the air, preach to the converted, and convince the suckers to sow some more seed and in return we’ll send them a “Last Supper Steak Knife Set” or maybe a “Latter Rain Shower Cap”. No, Christianity is much more than just another lifestye choice, but we are in a popularity contest with Islam or Wicca or fishing or sleeping in on Sunday — we need to be attractive to attract the attention of those God wants to reach through us. That is exactly why we do the branding studies, and the work to establish a target audience and then put ourselves and our message in places where they will find it and in a way that will tempt them to take a step toward us and toward the Lord. Oh, and it would help if more Christians acted like Christ. Great question, Phil… keep ’em coming! Joe

  5. I don’t think your question makes sense.

    Christianity isn’t a lifestyle choice, it’s a religion – a set of faith based beliefs. So too are the Wiccan and Muslim religions. They all have sets of ideas about the devine and how man relates to God (or spirits in the case of Wicca).

    Perhaps a better question would be “what makes Christianity rise above other religions”.

    The problem with this sort of question is that either it has to be based on “my Bible says…” or it has to be based on its physical contributions to society at large (which I would argue was what Jesus meant in John 13:35).

    Unfortunately, much of current Christianity (especially conservative) does not fare well when compared to other religions. It is difficult to tell a secular world that the conservative Christian movement to control politics is better than, say, the Budhist “live and let live” attitude. If the church wants to win the “we are better” debate, it needs to show more “love your neighbor” and more “care for the sick, poor, imprisoned, and hungry” and a lot less “protect the sanctity of my religious and political power”.

    Gay also isn’t a lifestyle choices, it is a sexual orientation. If one is intrinsicly attracted both emotionally and sexually toward the same sex, then he’s gay. Gay people live a wide variety of “lifestyles” and a large percentage of gay people are Christian, both in culture and in practice.

    Perhaps a better question would be “what makes anti-gay Christianity rise above gay-accepting Christianity”.

    Here again, without arguing the interpretation of Scripture, it is very difficult to argue this in a secular world. The world sees anti-gay Christianity focused on politics and power and they contrast this with gay-friendly mainline denominations which seem to be focused on congregation and community. When the mainline churches are operating the food banks and allowing their buildings to be used for AA it comes off better than when the anti-gays are marching and signing petitions. I read just today about a Baptist pastor who helps the homeless not because he wants to care for those in need as Christ commanded but because it was a way to “reach souls for Christ”. He was focused on the Great Commission but totally ignoring Christ’s New Commandement. And that sort of fake compassion is really obvious to a secular world.

    As long as the measure of “better” is defined by how the church interacts with those around them in physical need, the secular world is not going to be impressed by intolerant political churches.

    One commenter above said “love” is the difference. And that is true. But currently the conservative (and most visible and vocal) branch of Christianity is not demonstrating the type of love that resonates with our culture. They are not showing “true, unconditional, persevering, stay-up-all–night-with-a-friend, kind of love”.

    And that is unfortunate.

  6. Simply put: Relationship with a loving God. I don’t simply follow or “practice” my religion. I have an ongoing relationship with my Creator, Savior, and God. His own Spirit lives in me and is one with my spirit. He inspires, enables and gives me guidance even now. He has protected me from harm and is an active part of my life. I think it’s interesting and appropriate that you should say not to “quote” the Bible because most think that is what their faith in God and Jesus is all about. The Bible is a help in understanding my relationship and what God expects and desires. With God’s Spirit the Bible and it’s ideas become more alive and relevant. But before the formal Law that came during the time of the historic Moses there was a man who wandered around the Middle East with no “religious” affiliation looking for a “promised” land because he had a “sit down and talk” relationship with the Creator of everything Himself. That man – also accepted by historians – Abram – who would become the father of all the Middle East – walked and talked with God. Abram became defined by his relationship with God and became “Abraham.” But here’s the kicker: God allowed himself to be defined by His relationship with Abraham becoming the “God of Abraham.” You see, not only do I belong to God but God belongs to me!

  7. This is an incredibly complex question to answer in a single post, but brevity and clarity of thought are necessary skills in a media saturated society.

    Postmodernism, according to Jean-Francois Lyotard (a leading proponent of postmodernism) is characterized by “incredulity towards meta-narratives.” In other words, skepticism towards stories, worldviews, ideologies, etc. that purport to explain and interpret reality “objectively” or “as things truly are.” As a result of this kind of reasoning tolerance becomes the chief virtue and pluralism the reigning ideology of a postmodern society since it refuses to accept any kind of universal standard for truth and morality. Let me make it clear that as a Christian I do not agree with this way of interpreting reality because Christianity provides me with a different set of lens’ through which to view the world and as such provides me with a competing worldview. But I recognize that postmodernism might actually provide an opportunity for the Gospel that has not been afforded to Christians since the Enlightenment.
    By leveling the playing field and giving equal opportunities to all religions and ideologies, postmodernim must allow Christians the freedom to spread the gospel. If they did otherwise they would be contradicting themselves (as they often do, but unjustifiably so).

    As I see it, Christianity provides us with a competing worldview that is not so easily reconciled with a postmodern worldview. We are not called to justify ourselves in light of societal standards or prove that Christianity is “reasonable” or “rational” according to this society’s accepted norms for rational or scientific discourse. We are in the world but not of it. We should thoroughly understand and be comfortable with our secular postmodern neighbors but recognize that we have a different way of understanding and being in the world. It’s not that we differ from our neighbors in the interpretation of the facts, but it’s that we can’t even agree on what the facts are. The best way for Christianity and Christians to rise above the rest is simply to embody the Gospel. We should let our actions and not our words do the preaching, we should be living sermons. Once we have completed our part God through the power of the Holy Spirit will testify in the individual’s heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus tells his followers that the Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself but bears witness to Jesus. He commissioned us to go out into the world preaching and baptizing not fighting, arguing, or debating (leave that to the politicians).

  8. I dont like the fact that my first posting will be argumentative, and will try to post a response to the actual question also. However I have read most of your entries and feel this particular one must be refuted.

    1) Here you say the question makes no sense after answering multiple times previously. What part of of the sense was lost between there and here?

    2)You say, “Christianity isnt a lifestyle choice”

    WHAT? Please read the devinely inspired Word of God? Its not only a lifestyle choice it is THE LIFE CHOICE! Its the whole reason we are here. …choose you this day whom ye will serve… ,therefore choose life… etc. etc. What does that mean to you? The choices you make determine your style of living. The two can not be seperated!

    3)You said “it’s a religion – a set of faith based beliefs. So too are the Wiccan and Muslim religions They all have sets of ideas about the devine and how man relates to God (or spirits in the case of Wicca).”

    If religion is what you have what happened to your personal relationship with God? I had an idea once that I could build a space ship but that didnt work out either.

    4)Perhaps a better question would be “what makes Christianity rise above other religions”. The problem with this sort of question is that either it has to be based on “my Bible says…” or it has to be based on its physical contributions to society at large (which I would argue was what Jesus meant in John 13:35).

    Why either or? Where is the problem between {My Bible says… and physical contributions to society at large} John 13:35 “By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” There is a purpose behind the method that Jesus was the example of. The new commandment was directed at making people diciples of Christ Jesus. The NEW command was only able to be implemented because Jesus was preparing to be crucified and resurected. God is much more concerned about your eternal salvation than your current comfort.

    I will not even go on about your homosexual and conservative remarks because by this point you are so far off track that these issues cant be addressed while you carry this illusion of salvation.

    Please sir, don’t take my comments as being angry because they are not. Understand that one who is deceived is in a far worse condition than one who has not heard at all. As evidenced by your statement ..”to be based on its physical contributions to society at large (which I would argue was what Jesus meant in John 13:35).” What you are professing is salvation by works and not by faith. We dont serve God because he ask us to. We do it because we love him. We dont serve people because they ask us, we do it because we love them as Christ first has loved us. The Baptist pastor you mention was not ignoring anything, he was doing exactly as Jesus commanded. Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

  9. Here’s something I’d like your opinion on – in a tolerant world, what makes Christianity rise above just being another “lifestyle choice?”

    “…a tolerant world,”
    We live in a world full of borders. Just like a nation will make allies so does the individual. I align myself with you because you have borders similar to my own or something that I want. In the first scenario we gather and build houses together in the second we enter into mutually beneficial trade agreements. Its the old I’ll scratch your border if you’ll scratch mine. The result of a trade agreement is that not if but when one of the borders is invaded the other is vested in the outcome. So the “lifestyle choice” is a border. Tolerance for your border is no more than self interest in preserving trade. But when we live in similar houses in the same city with all the same amenities, I have no vested interest in your house. So the “lifestyle choice” is a common city border. No tolerance is required.

    So what happens when we are met by others from outside our common city border. We have something (a lifestyle) that they “need” but they have nothing that interest us?

    Me: What do you mean you don’t want mine either !?
    Wait a minute, come back… uh, you “need” this.
    Them: No I don’t, I’ve got something better than yours.
    Me: But what you have is no good at all!
    Them: Mine is better than yours.

    No it aint! Yes it is! Oh No IT AINT! OH YES IT IS!

    In a post-modern culture where personal identity is the key focus, where there is no absolute truth, wars are not fought on the offensive but on the defensive. Instead of the focus being on expanding borders it has most certainly become defending them. Nevertheless it is war. Invasions are made in the name of defending a personal lifestyle choice border rather than expanding the city of truth borders.

    Is post-modern Christianity fighting the war any differently?

    Its not.

    “..what makes Christianity rise above just being another “lifestyle choice?””

    Nothing.

    I’m defending my borders in the same style as they are. We think that the louder we scream the other will listen. I’m certainly not listening to them. They’re screaming back. Are they listening to me?

    But, what if they stop screaming for a minute and notice something. There are others watching the battle rage! A huge crowd has gathered.

    All of a sudden they turn their attention off my screaming and to the crowd. The crowd is made up of post-modern individualist some of which they have trade agreements with. They remind the crowd that; Hey, don’t you have a house in my city? Why yes, yes I do. They make new trade agreements with 3 others and now Im being ganged up on.

    What should I do? Lets see…..hmmmm…..?

    OK. I live in the biggest and best “lifestyle choice” city in the world. I have common borders but no trade agreements because no one else has anything that I need or want. Peering into the crowd I see (you) a common border.
    Me: GREAT, Hey common border! Little help here?
    You: Uhm, sorry but I’m over here building a house.
    Me: But we live in the same city?
    You: Yes, and i am working very hard to make our city grow. When you are done with your battle come help us again.
    Me:But I also have labored and spent all my money so that our city would be the biggest and best?
    You: I know and thank you, but right now im very busy building new houses so that the city will continue to grow. I need to focus on that.

    Now they invade in the name of self preservation. Carrying the banner of all the allies. They kick my butt and trash my house. I’m left desolate.

    They offer me a trade agreement but I refuse because its against the law in our city. I come to you and tell you Im going to have to stop working on the city for a while and repair my house.

    You: No, dont do that! We need you to help build so those guys who beat you up and destroyed your house will want to live here also. You know they “need” us right? Just show up to work on the city everyday and your home will rebuild itself by the power of the city being built!
    Me: HUH? 🙁
    You: Look at it this way. If you keep building the city with us, one day it will cover the whole world and we will be back at your house! THEN, We will make your house better than ever! 🙂
    Me: But where do I live for now?
    You: Well I dont know. But, the whole city will be talking about it until we get there.
    Me: OK, I’ll talk about it all the time. Gee thanks Mr.!

    To many pastors are so focused on building the city that the population/congregation is being neglected. Why do so few people tithe? Because they have to pay bills thats why. Why dont more of professing Christians attend church regularly. Beacause they have to work to pay bills ITS THAT SIMPLE FOLKS. If you want more people in church stop going out to eat every Sunday and creating the demand. If I see one more preacher hocking (oh sorry) marketing “Seven Biblical Principals To Prosperity” …are you in debt, does your paycheck never seem to be enough? Well GOD said… . CALL NOW OR SEND YOUR LOOOVE GIFT of $45 or more to….. mastercard and visa accepted. BAARF! The whole notion that a Brother in Christ would Charge me for such a thing. Why? Where is your biblical princpal to support that? But in fairness lets also ask why ministries are doing this. Because so few people go to church regularly and very few of those tithe. Bigger numbers are the only way for them to build the church. People outside the church are not buying this stuff. Your taking money from fellow believers that honestly need help. They have become so engrossed with the notion that one day yes one day It will be my turn and God will bless me too “Then”. I hate to break this to all you preachers (no I dont) but these folks are making trade agreements to survive. Your letting the city be sacked faster than you can build it. We are the ones tuning in NOT THEM.

    I do drugs, so I can work longer, so I can make more money, so I can do more drugs, so I can work longer….

    You ask
    As we in faith-based media attempt to brand and market churches, ministries, and other religious organizations, how do we position the Christian faith in a post-modern culture, where all choices are supposedly equal? How is being a Christian any different from being gay, New Age, Wiccan, Muslim, transgendered, or more? After all, if others are happy with their lifestyle choice, why should Christianity be any better? And who are we to promote our faith over other choices?

    First stop doing the 1 pastor Over three billion served drug. Your building lives not burgers.

    Next stop all the I’ll pray for you malarky. If I’m already saved you can pray with me I’ve no need that you pray for me. God hears me just as much as you and personally I think he would rather hear it first hand.

    NOW Give me a blessing like God told you to. Stop using everything in the storehouse to build a bigger storehouse. Stop waiting for God to reach down and touch every individual on the nose. Hes not gonna do it. He told you to do it. Oh, thats the same thing he told me.

    VIOLA
    All of sudden im a walking billboard. Im a neon sign on a hill in the desert night. Instantly the glow starts to attract moths and all sorts of sinner bugs. Dude, wheredya get that awesome glow man. What this, oh its part of my lifestyle choice. NO WAAAy, man, can I get one like that? Sure here’s how.

    Why is that Christianity is exploding in third world countries? Because with the message we bring clean water, food and healthcare. We introduce a better way of life that they have never known before. They see us as wealthy people who love them enough to share what we have and tell them how we got it. Whats the choice in that?

    In America, the third largest mission field in the world, where”media” is king. We sell the just keep building and “one day” tape series to our own brothers.

    No one views all choices as equal. If they did it would negate the purpose of choosing. The problem is we are the lesser choice as a lifestyle in America.

    I heard someone once say that the Gay and lesbian groups are active in the arts colleges offering scholarships, job leads and and the such. Basicly saying Hey, if your Gay we are here to help. And he wished that Christians would do the same thing. I wonder how thats going? 😉

    Bottom line is the thing speaks for its self no batteries required. It didnt take any marketing to get where we are.

    Build me a church where anything above what is used to keep the lights turned on is used to help the Starbucks employee who comes to church (when hes not working Sundays) open his own coffee shop. Where the whole congregation shops at Brother AL’s discount emporium. Build me a church where if I break my leg old Doc Brother Murphy will fix it and tell me dont worry about paying me until you can get back to work. Take away my worldly burdens so that all our time together in the sanctuary is dedicated to praise rather than me having to think about should I tithe or pay rent. Then as we go into all the world we take sanctuary with us.

    The Gays do it, so do the Mormons and the Masons.
    JESUS did it and told us to do it.
    Why do we as Christians not do this?

    Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/

  10. I believe that the only way of life that seems based on the truth, as I see it, is that which accepts the natural evil in man and that we need to find a way to renew ourselves. The most rational way to go about it is through following Christ.

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