Evangelical Crypto-sacramentalism?

OK people, tell me if this is way too harsh, maybe even venomous, or if it sounds more or less reasonable:

[E]vangelicalism is in many of its forms a contextualization that reacted against what was (at times, justifiably) perceived as ossified and lifeless ritual, the search for inner contact with God and the individualization and emotionalization of religion go hand in hand. Ritual was sublimated, but since humans need ritual to preserve a sense of identity, the local cultural symbols of America were drawn upon, thus arose a form of uniquely evangelical crypto-sacramentalism centered around a bizarre amalgamation of Scripture, pietism, entertainment, and consumerism.


Patrick said…
Sounds about right to me, but I would add patriotism to the mix. I have some vivid childhood memories of the U.S. flag being paraded around our SBC church with much fanfare. It was the most "ceremonial" thing we ever did.
Don said…
They were supposed to get away from the formality, dryness and class consciousness of state churches, but, as I note here, they lost their way on that too.
Fred said…
well... this is an interesting if mostly recent phenomenon: "a bizarre amalgamation of Scripture, pietism, entertainment, and consumerism".

Christian pop music (mediocre imitations of secular sounds), low budget Christian TV (In Kansas, I get about 6 channels now via broadcast digital!), passion of Christ playsets (sold at Walmart), Christian theme parks — (as a Catholic, I'll tell you that Catholics have bought into this amalgam also).

It seems to me that these bizarre cultural forms go back to Francis Schaeffer's rediscovery of culture and the dualism he proposed regarding culture based on evangelical principles and culture based on other principles.

Waking up to culture was a good and important move for evangelicals. However, the last 30+ years have filled the world with an ersatz Christian culture which offers believers a Christian brand of the same crap everybody else is selling.

How can Christian culture be original and innovative? I'll say this: you don't become original by imitating everybody else and substituting Christian principles. Other evangelicals can discover an original Christian culture if they live like Schaeffer did — as a member of a hospitable community.
Samuel said…
I don't see what the problem is. Christianity has been, from day one, a very adaptable and culturally flexible religion, accounting for its successes down thru the centuries. Christians use whatever is in their means to survive and make their message heard in all the media and cultural venues that are available to them. None of these things compromises the central message that they preach (Catholic and Protestant alike): that Jesus is Lord, that He died for our sins, and that He was raised for our justification.

The one place where it ascribes "emotionalization of religion" could be so of a number of Christians but I would dispute it as generally descriptive of the whole. I see nothing wrong with people being excited and emotional about their faith and being together in communion celebrating and praising Jesus.
E. Twist said…
You will not be surprised to find that I very much like the verbiage.

Well done.
Brett said…
Did we adapt to the culture in the beginning, or did the culture adapt to us? Yes it has adapted in modes of communication, but I think has lost a real sense of duty. We are no longer a counter culture, but a parallel culture here in the US. Our divorce rates are now just as high, our kids are all having sex, and all it would take to make our music secular is change "Jesus" to "Baby"

I agree with Patrick in that patriotism has even played a large part. Which is why I am sure many countries are leery of US missionaries who import not only Christ, but American culture. But I do wonder how much harder that makes it for converts from other countries to join churches here in the U.S. Which is why we still have churches that divide along racial lines.
FrGregACCA said…
Sounds about right to me, AD, plus, as has been mentioned, a certain brand of patriotism.
Abu Daoud said…
Thank you all for your input. I have decided to lightly revise it. I will include the element of patriotism, as several of you have noted. I also will use the less pejorative word "peculiar" rather than bizarre, which is perhaps too much.

Your remarks were all very helpful.
Samuel said…
How about just saying "a certain brand of patriotism" as FrGreg said, since patriotism is not bad per se? I consider myself patriotic but without meaning that other states are inferior to mine (even if that were the case!). :-) Patriotism is love of country---nothing wrong with loving your country.
drinklife said…
interesting. Did you write that? If not where did you get it?
Abu Daoud said…
drinklife: yes, I wrote it. It will be included (in a modified version) in part of an article in an upcoming issue of Saint Francis Magazine:

Mike S said…
I agree entirely with your comments Abu. Living and working with Christians in Africa, I would say that american missionaries did a really good job of converting Africa to the American way of life. "It works for us, it will work for you." Many churches in Africa are lttle different from churches in the US. Same sermons, same music, same methodology, same materialistic and individualistic ambitions.....American culture.

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