Summary: Christianity has an image problem. What can we learn from how those outside the church see the church today. I use Jesus criticism of religious leaders to cause us to think.
I have used sermoncentral along with other resources in this message. James White’s Critical Times email was a starting point. I also referred to Kinnaman’s book.
LISTENING TO UnCHRISTIAN AMERICA
October 28, 2007 Jay Davis Robison MATTHEW 15:1-12
The Church in America HAS AN IMAGE PROBLEM
Probably not really a news flash to you
Generation Age(in 2007) Percent of generation
who are outsiders
to Christianity size of this
segment in the US
adult Mosaics and Busters 18-41 37% 34million
older Mosaics and younger Busters
Christians 16-29 20 24
Boomers 42-60 27 21
Elders 61+ 23 12
I felt “spiritual vertigo” sense of dizziness, disorientation, confusion, & even panic you feel when someone challenges core of your faith in a way that you cannot answer. Have you ever felt spiritual vertigo? If you haven’t, you probably will – and soon.
Why say that? Because Christianity is currently under a widespread & vociferous attack by militant atheists, radical scholars, popular authors, and others in bestselling books, TV documentaries, & on the Internet. Or if you don’t come down with a case of spiritual vertigo, chances are that your kids will when they go off to college, where the percentage of atheists among professors is three times greater than in the population as a whole.
Remember size & scope of Christianity in America. Yes, there are many "flavors" of the Christian faith, & it may not dominate society, as some secularists declare. Yet everyone has to deal w\massive numbers of people who are part of Christian tradition: vast majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians; most adults in this country say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life; & nearly 1/2 are relatively active churchgoers. Of course, depth of most Christians’ faith leaves much to be desired, but fact is Xianity leaves an enormous footprint in America.
When it comes to unchurched in the Bluegrass, we can either try to gain an understanding of who they are, or we can continue to dismiss them. We know what we should do we too should lift up our eyes unto our field Lexington, & see God’s harvest awaiting workers.
Who are the unchurched? And what are they like? It’s important to realize that before we can ever hope to have the opportunity to change their lives, we must first change our attitudes and beliefs about who they are.
The Scribes and Pharisees are MOST LIKE US
Perhaps most frightening thing about Pharisees they are group of people in gospels which most closely resembles us. So far as fundamentals are concerned the Pharisees believed in nearly everything we do. They believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible (in their case the OT). They believed in the supernatural, in Satan, angels, heaven and hell, and the resurrection of the dead.
Just what exactly do people think about Christians and Christianity? Why do these perceptions exist? Obviously, people believe their views are accurate (otherwise they would disavow them), but do their perceptions reflect reality? And why do people’s perceptions matter - should they matter - to Christ followers?
1. Human OPINION ELEVATED TO DIVINE AUTHORITY
“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition Vs 2-3 NKJV
Tradition of the elders ORAL INTERPRETATION OF GOD’S LAW
Elders mentioned here by Scribes & Pharisees from Jerusalem contended that Moses was given two sets of laws on mountain of God; one set was written down on the 2 tablets, the
10 commandments. Other set were verbal and were handed down from Moses to Joshua, Joshua to the Judges, from Judges through the prophets, & were kept pure until it was recorded in the Talmuds, the first of which was finally put in written form about 200 years before Christ. Until then, it was all passed down orally, yet with exacting detail.
Traditions had become the fence around the Law of God, put in place to protect people from violating God’s Law. The principle behind this was that it was far less dangerous for a person to transgress the fence around the Law than to transgress the Law itself. The problem was that this “fence” had become a Law unto itself.
Tradition of the elders was oral tradition, passed down through the generations
Pharisees developed an extensive tradition of oral laws applied to every area of life this factor made them strictest of Jewish religious sects. They believed deeply in what they tried to teach, but zeal & sincerity are not enough. Problem w\the Pharisees is not in what they believed not even in what they hoped to do, but in what they actually became & did.