What is Christianity? (Letter 1)

Sir Tom,

re: Episode 1: What is Christianity?

Why am I doing this? A couple of reasons, but the first and foremost (being the one that gave me the idea originally) is that the ‘Stuff We Don’t Talk about in Church’ podcast is reaching some decidedly non-Christian places. I considered that perhaps podcasts could escape censorship (being a fairly new medium) and wouldn’t it be great to teach the basics of Christianity to people who might not be able to ask or get their hands on a Bible etc.

But I’ve changed through researching and recording the ‘Stuff’ podcast and I can’t in good conscious just tell others that which I was taught. No, let me correct that, I am changing.

So what’s my theology? Well, I’m not going to answer that until I receive back from you a missive outlining your own answer to ‘What is Christianity?’ as I do not wish to colour that with my own thoughts.

But I have two major issues with Christianity as it stands today (at least in the West).

  1. Consumerism. I think it’s become insidious and inherent in Christianity. So far so that we don’t realise it. Consider this: “I love the opportunity to worship God through song in the service”. Now surely no one would ever say there was anything wrong with that, but actually it is focused on the worshiper not the worshiped. You might say I’m being somewhat extreme (and I am) and no, I don’t believe we shouldn’t enjoy worship, of course we should, but this is an example of how insidious comsumerism is in the church. It’s in “prayching” (where someone uses prayer to give a mini sermon) and in every instance of somebody getting up in church to pray or read the Bible and feel the need to say something. It’s even in Salvation, that we get a relationship with God and miss out on Hell. These things are true, but they are a byproduct.
  2. An equal relationship with God. This one’s linked to the above, but I think we see ourselves as on par with God in terms of relationship. The whole Father/Son/Daughter idea that, while true, when linked to our egos, makes God too small. There are two truths of the Bible that we don’t seem to link together: God created us and God has a plan for us. Put these together and you get: God has something He needs doing and so creates a person with all the skills and talents (and life experiences) to do that job. That is fundamentally the relationship we have with God.
  3. Ignoring Heaven. I’m not going to talk about Heaven as the afterlife because the Bible doesn’t. I’m going to talk about the Kingdom. We don’t think about the afterlife enough, we don’t base our current lives on it. In fact the consumerism mentioned above is an outcome of it. We’re too focused on this life and this church that we forget that all the good things are coming after this life. Jesus particularly stresses being a servant in this life to enjoy the good times in the Kingdom. We have to bring a focus on the Kingdom back into the Church, not as a reward, but as an inevitable. A sort of work/retirement scenario where we work hard in this life and enjoy the perfect version of the world later. I mean, why are we so fussed with this life knowing there is a perfect version later on? It’s like focusing on the trailers and not the movie.

So that’s where I’m coming from as I come to answer the question, what is Christianity? for the first episode.