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Tim Dalrymple, at Patheos, asks this set of questions, and the big one is one deserving serious discussion:
Americans who stand outside these favored circles feel cheated and powerless. Worse still, it is not clear if either party possesses the vision and moral fortitude to navigate the nation through this storm. What if America has become ungovernable? What if the problems that beset us cannot be rectified by a new President, a new party, new policies? What if the problem is us, that we are so sated with materialistic consumption that we no longer hold our representatives accountable; that we no longer vote and legislate on the basis of principle but according to the whims of fashion and self-interest; that we too (and not just our representatives) are addicted to government spending and unwilling to confront the appalling realities of our collected indebtedness and the sacrifices it will require of us; that we have self-segregated into a thousand warring camps, and would rather bicker and demonize than stoop into the trenches of social problems and strive together with every bone, muscle, and tendon to solve them?
With regard to the Church, the intuition is felt especially (though not exclusively) among younger believers: that the American evangelical Church, in spite of all the good it still accomplishes, has lost its way. In the vision of Christian life that has been passed down the stream of generations, something essential seems to have been lost in the exchange. Call it a hunch, buried deep in the inner folds of the spirit within: that Christ calls us to something more than this. God did not become incarnate, endure the indignities and humiliations of the human condition, suffer rejection and persecution, torture and death, so that we might live comfortable lives of suburban complacency, lives more characterized by rampant consumerism than radical obedience, by cultural accommodation than counter-cultural witness, by potlucks and stewardship seminars than the persecutions and sufferings of the saints.
And he’s not done. He has a proposal…
What truly ails the Church, I am convinced, is that it has rejected the call to the imitation of Christ. Christ did not die upon the cross so that we should never bear crosses of our own — indeed he calls his disciples to take up their crosses daily and follow. The way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the way of the cross is diametrically opposed to the way of the world. Yet we do not bear crosses anymore; we bear the sweet burdens of worldly idols and ambitions. The Church fell in love with the extravagant comfort and consumerism of American society, its sumptuous materialism and endless distraction — and became unwilling to follow Christ into sacrifice and suffering, into the life of the disciple that is fiercely focused on walking in the Savior’s footsteps. If the Church today lives at peace with the world, it is because it has become so like the world, so harmless to it, that it no longer presents a substantial threat to the ways of worldly sin.