Previous generations of Christians somehow missed slavery. Men and women who loved Jesus and wanted to follow Him were blinded by the culture of their day, that they were unable to see the huge discrepancy between their words and their actions.
As we have been discussing leadership this week, this is an area where it is needed — challenging the prevailing cultural wisdom when it contradicts Scripture and the Gospel.
|Photo from Flickr.com by Katie Holland|
My generation has begun or, in some cases, completed the process of remedying some of the areas that the previous generation did not see. However, we have our own issues and are, perhaps, still struggling with some of earlier ones.
Here are some notable recent blind spots that seem to have been noticed. Maybe we are turning the corner on these:
Materialism: Many new Christian leaders, pastors and authors have called our attention to the ways in which American Christians have bought into the consumerist mentality and often replace seeking a comfortable American Dream life with seeking a life filled with whole-hearted service to Christ. This blind spot has just recently been brought to light by David Platt and others.
Anti-intellectualism: This is one that the last generation deserves credit for beginning the end of this blind spot. I do believe my generation is putting an end to this as a blind spot for the near future. Ignorance is no longer valued as an asset and that is a good thing.
Individualism: This is the one that is so difficult for me. It is no longer a blind spot. I know it’s there. But it’s difficult to break myself from thinking in that manner. A recent re-emphasis on community and the need for Christians to grow and develop within the body of Christ and with a small group of fellow Christians, has helped many within our faith realize that individualism has hindered the growth of the Kingdom.
Extreme patriotism: Perhaps, it is more of an unhealthy pride in the characteristics of our nation. Both individualism and materialism owe much of their growth to this blind spot. The uniqueness of America was often time stressed to the detriment of God’s heart for the nations. Philosophies and customs were brought into the church, not because they were biblical, but because they were American. This was a dangerous trend, which has thankfully become noticed recently.
Cultural arrogance: This is also related to the previous one. Many times, instead of spreading the Gospel, missionaries specifically or Christians in general attempted to spread American Christianity or a specific regional adaptation of American Christian, instead of simply the Gospel. Churches were not planted in order to most effectively reach the lost. They were planted to look just like the mother church. Thankfully, most see the folly of this trend today.
It is much easier to analyze the weaknesses of those who went before, it is extremely difficult to attempt to identify and address those which plague you and your contemporaries.
Some that I see as possible blind spots, which the next generation will see so clearly may be:
Hyper tolerance: This is at play in our society and is part of post-modern culture that can easily derail the movement of the Gospel within our culture. We do not share that Christ died for your sins and is the only way to the Father. We try to be as tolerant as possible, which is a good thing, unless it hinders a clear presentation of the uniqueness of Christ and the exclusivity of His sacrifice in relating to the Father.
Avoidance of hard stands: Playing off of the previous concept, many Christians want to sit back and never take a stand on a controversial issue. It can be couched in spiritual terms, “I don’t want to offend someone and prevent them from accepting the Gospel.” But Paul made it clear that the Gospel is foolishness to those apart from Christ. Sometimes following Christ means speaking the truth in love, and it must include both those elements.
Shallow theology: An unfortunate side effect of the jettisoning of the older hymns is a lack of theological depth in our worship. Many modern worship songs are catchy and communicate truth, but often times they lack the richness and theology of the previous generation’s hymns. I especially appreciate the move of many to set older hymns to newer music.
Technology addiction: Go to any convention of Christian leaders and pastors and count the number of tablet computers or smart phones. While many previously were too afraid of technology, many today may be too embracing of it. Not every technology is necessarily good for the church. Often times we embrace a technology which has a negative side-effect. We definitely should not get rid of technology, but perhaps we should be more discerning in our usage and promotion of it.
What do you think? What are some of the blind spots we are coming out of and what are some we may be going into?
This was an edited repost. Much of my writing time and energies are being devoted to academic research papers. It’s that time of the year for me.