I wish this MARS HILL AUDIO letter could be discussed face to face with every evangelical Christian in America. It is the best, most succinct, smoking gun I've seen regarding worldliness in today's church. Below are a few pull-quotes, but I hope you will make some time to digest this letter in its entirety.
As long as the Great Commission is understood only as a matter of somehow getting our contemporaries to assent to our message, Christians will be tempted to recast the message in likeable, plausible terms. [But] Christian faith is both more radically inward than mere belief (transforming our loves and hopes) and more decisively outward (reorganizing our actions). Jesus did not die, rise, and ascend to change something in our hearts and leave it at that, but thereby to change
everything. "Evangelism-as-sales-talk" is never so ambitious.
One way that Christians have escaped the ramified demands of discipleship, especially in the shape of our cultural lives, is to assume that the sphere of Creation and the sphere of Redemption are intrinsically separate. So our salvation is understood as a "spiritual" matter, an inner transformation, while our social and cultural lives can continue to be lived in accordance with the allegedly neutral, value-free, mechanical principles established by economists, sociologists, and other scientific experts.
In consequence, the settings for our gathered worship have been transformed from sanctuaries, portals of mysteries and arresting awe, into loud, throbbing Skinner boxes of engineered stimulus and response. From my own informal research, it would seem that the prevailing attitudes among Christians toward art and beauty, toward work and the modern ideal of efficiency, toward the ordering of time and the valuing of place, are statistically no different than those of non-believers.
My nagging obsession is to try to encourage Christians to wrestle more deeply with the consequences of our faith in the world, and to be more alert to the ways the world has diluted our faithfulness.