Monday, August 16, 2010

The Christian Technique

My most recent freelance project was for a ministry that organizes lay-led Bible studies in high schools across the country for coaches, called, appropriately Coaches Outreach. For the coming school year, I wrote a study guide entitled "The Christian Technique: How God Prepares his Players" which draws upon the letters of James, 1-2-3 John, and Jude.

This Washington Post op-ed written by Mark Driscoll up in Seattle is a perfect example of what "The Christian Technique" is all about. Like many other thirtysomething evangelicals, my faith began with an altar-call-style profession back in 1980, led by a boisterous but devoted Irishman. Almost immediately, the "discipleship" I was led to pursue by my parents and the Chrsitian School I attended from K-12 was one of information Christianity, and I became Encycolpedia Bahm, or God's nerd. I was reading Swindoll at age 11, Lewis' big-kid books at 13, MacArthur at 15, and Charnock at 18. And since it was the Eighties, the wild, heart-pounding hypotheses of the End Times became the dessert during this time of fact-feasting.

Through college at Wheaton I became dissastified with this "thread" of Christianity. Through some concurrent personal experiences I became downright resentful. I didn't quite rebel, however; instead I became bored. Soviet Russia collapsed - before I could get over there and convert them! In the wilderness, I traversed the entire evangelical landscape, through both churches, groups and books: the ritual-Charisma combo of resurgent Episcopalians, the faith-healing teachings of LeAnne Payne, the Megachurch prototype of Bill Hybells, a quick re-sojurn with the younger Reformed movement (in which Driscoll has his roots), finally laying hold of the communitarian, Amish-like approaches of Wendell Berry and Douglas Frank.

Today, after yet more information, experiences (I am still a faithful, if jaded, GOPer) and even greater personal trials, I see how this model of knowing God is essentially unchanged. I find myself reading books from the watery, troubled Word of Faith movement - ideas and testimonies that are compelling yet no less rooted in a more or less selfish, personal desire to know God.

By God's grace, and praise him for it, I am learning the hard way what Anne Rice seems to be in too much pain to learn - something I sympathize with, believe me - that I don't really know or experience God unless I am loving fellow Christians - to my hurt. This is part of what the "The Christian Technique" of the New Testament letters means. The good news is that God effects the technique himself, through his own power.

Going to take a break from writing for a while - probably. :)