“Too often, American Christians think that they get to make Christianity up, but it is received.”
“As a Christian, I have no private life. That Jesus is Lord is going to make my life quite dysfunctional in relation to a good deal of American practice.”
Statements like these clarify my mind, and motivate me to press on in the same direction my pastoral ministry has been going for over a decade now. Statements like these are on offer regularly by Stanley Hauerwas, for example, here.
This is another good one, too. In this one Hauerwas states that, all too often, Evangelicals think that Christianity consists solely of the Bible and “now” … totally omitting 2000 years of history.
Wow. Having been in Tyler, TX for a year now, my mind is blown by the extent to which so many of the Christian folk around here (and these are evangelicals I am talking about) don’t even meet that deficient standard. Would that they valued the Bible!! I bet three times a week I hear a well-meaning Christian (whether they know I am a pastor or not) walk up to me and say, “God told me __________.”
“God told me to move to Tyler to start a ministry.” (That one, unsolicited, was two days ago, spoken by a complete stranger, in the park while I was pushing my three year old in a swing.)
“God told me to tell you that ________.” (This one happens about once a month, often from another Christian leader in Tyler.)
(I could go on, but I’m starting to feel kind of guilty and embarrassed.)
When it comes to theses statements I think, “OK, maybe.”
I don’t want to be a mere skeptic when talking with brothers and sisters. However, I’m pretty sure that 99% of the time this statement is based not on Scripture, not on deep intimacy with God such that one can “hear” God “speak,” but rather on self-interested emotion(alism).