My father-in-law pointed me to an article in Christianity Today entitled “Hipster Faith.” It is well written, timely, and perceptive, and I commend it to you. In the article, Mr. McCracken explores the phenomenon of evangelical relevance. Think cool. Think emergent. Think right music. Right lights. Think hip presentation of truth. And possibly most of all, think reaction. Reaction to what? Pop evangelicalism.
Well, I really don’t need to say anything more. Read the article. It’s worth your time. And if you’re curious to know a few of my thoughts, I’ll post the email (with some name changes to protect identity) I sent to my father-in-law. It’s my basic assessment of the trend.
Here is the article: Link
(To my father-in-law).
Thanks for dropping off the “Hipster” article. Both Bek and I found it tremendously interesting. Mr. McCracken articulated the phenomenon to near perfection! And the funny thing is that we did see ourselves in parts of the description. There were points where we said, “Wow, yup, that hit the nail on the head.” The sad thing, in my estimation, is that the vast majority of those who are reacting against the failures and fads of a previous generation are merely creating their own faddish, nay, plastic construct that will, in the scales of time, fail to live up to the biblical vision of the body of Christ, in the sense that the world will be sitting a little too comfortably on the couch in the living room of their hearts. I don’t think there will be perseverance. And I don’t think holiness will feature prominently. Where’s the antithesis? Basically, I think the happy-go-smiley-WFRN-Doug and Vincy vision of Christianity has been traded in for a wine-tasting-jean-wearing-call-me cool model that often rediscovers important elements of the faith (like new creation, social justice and church history before the Reformation), but cheapens it by starting churches with a guitar and a wanna-be-hipster for a pastor. Authentic Christianity, I have learned, simply doesn’t comport with this basic outlook and practice. And I’m afraid that the very thing they have grown frustrated with is merely being reproduced in a different way. I think it already has.
Bek and I are seeing this time and time again. We could name off a number of people who fall into this camp. Most disappointing, perhaps, is the news that Larry Baker is moving towards Eastern Orthodoxy. Why? Well, I’m sure there are multiple reasons. But I suspect that one of the main reasons is a gut-level reaction against the flimsy pop Evangelicalism of today. He wants something deeper. Something more profound. That was my impression when I spoke with him. And I think his impulse is right, but unfortunately he’s drifting towards a group with another gospel.
One of the paragraphs in the article that really struck me was this one (talking about the wannabe hipster churches trying to emulate the real ones), “These wannabe hip churches- largely of the suburban, megachurch, and ‘contemporary evening service’ variety- dress themselves in the accoutrements of hipsterdom not because they understand or value it, but because they are terrified of being excluded, left behind, or undesirable. They are playing catch up, frantically maneuvering to be in the inner rings of culture and fashion rather than the dreaded periphery.”
It’s so, so true. Sadly, all this is merely idolatry dressed in spiritual attire.
The funny thing about genuine love is that it can’t be faked. You know it when you see it/feel it. And I’m afraid that much of this trend, while certainly yearning for authenticity, creates stumbling blocks that trip up the saints in their pursuit to live it out as a community. Last time I checked, being cool was not a fruit of the Spirit. In fact, if I recall my days in school accurately, the cool people didn’t end up being good friends. “Coolness” seems to be the bedfellow of selfishness… or at least an unhealthy desire to play footsie with the world.
My two cents,