A short rant…for the God botherers who pass by here…

I’m tired. Not of life, I quite like life at the moment, it’s spring, the daffodils are looking lovely and I’m enjoying pottering along. I’m tired of somethings though. I’m tired of English Christians grabbing anything they can get from American Christians.  I’m tired of courses that are written in the same language but to a completely different cultural background, I’m tired of stereotypes for men and women that are completely unrelated to how me and my friends live, I’m tired of Christian turf wars over there becoming our turf wars here and I’m tired of people not paying attention to what we need to think about in English Christianity.

I want a cultural voice that speaks to where I live, to the struggles of being a Christian in a deeply secular society, I want other voices to help me think about living credibly as a Christian in a city that laughs at me for believing in something so fundamentally offensive to everything it values. I want someone to help me think about living out faith and belief in God here in England in 2011. I know that we think we have the same culture as America, we speak a similar language, we watch the same films, we have similar celebrities but that doesn’t mean we are the same culturally. I want someone to notice the differences, to enjoy the differences and to know that lazily transporting a course or two from America to England doesn’t work, to know that what the big names are fighting about this time in America might not be the things we need to care about over here today.

Who are these voices? Who will help me figure out how I can relate to God in Brighton today? Who will stop looking to the Americans for all the lead and speak out here and now about the state of Christianity in England today? Who will look and see and speak truth into our country? Internet Monk does the job brilliantly of thinking about different strands of evangelicalism over in the States but I’m not sure much of it is culturally transferable. The US definitions of words and tribal lines are very different to ours.  Eugene Peterson speaks powerfully to the mega church, market driven, pastors being more than CEOs North American church scene but who speaks to our scene? Who is seeing our cultural weaknesses and challenging the way we are church in this country?

Where is our prophetic voice calling us back to the ways of Jesus in the UK? Or are we just soaking up what we can get from America without questioning and are we heading for the same mistakes? I’m all for listening to how others do things but are we really listening to voices across the world? Are we learning from the persecuted church? Are we seeking to learn from the developing world as well as those nations we consider more advanced?

I am part of a small church, I love my family, I love that we think about some of these questions together, I love that we love our city but I’d love to know where we can draw more inspiration from, where we can join with others in similar situations and where we can think and be moved together to walk as Jesus did in our specific cultural context. Any ideas?

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5 Responses to A short rant…for the God botherers who pass by here…

  1. Circus Queen says:

    There’s a lot to think about here, Kath! I’d love to hear a bit more about what, specifically, you identify as the cultural differences. I also think that learning from the persecuted church is particularly important. I’m afraid I can’t offer any ideas today as I’m under the weather but I’ll definitely be coming back when my brain’s less cloudy!

  2. Ed says:

    This is great Kath. Not only is much of American Christianity not all that great in the first place, it comes from a deeply different culture. Particularly in the American south, but even in the rest of the country, ‘Christian religion’ is much more written across the consciences and morals of people than at home. The new BBC programme exploring whether or not God had a wife, for example, would never be broadcast by a major network over here.

    Regardless of what American Fundis will tell you about the anti God horrors of having a Democrat in the White House or MSNBC in their basic cable package, six weeks living in the UK, or mainland Europe would show them the difficulties that UK and European Christians face are much more real, or at least, very different. Apart from the broad brush strokes of the Gospel, much of what is produced for an American context hopelessly misses the mark in England.

    So where is the next John Stott, or JI Packer or MLJ? This are great thoughts Kath.

  3. pilgrimKath says:

    Adele- I think Ed has outlined some for you- a great perspective from an English guy out in the States- thanks Ed!

    I think American Christianity holds very different issues than English Christianity- there seem to be so many battle lines drawn about where you stand on abortion, whether you are a Democrat or Republican etc. Tribal lines fall much more around those lines than over here- here it’s ok to be a reformed evangelical who is deeply liberal in political views- I’m not sure the same could be said over the pond. even the word evangelical means different things depending on who you talk to and seems to mean very different things over there than here. There seems to be so much of God in the culture of America (broadly) and so little over here… Just some broad brush strokes. Obviously there will be a wide variety of contexts from state to state!

    Read this post and the one it links to for more clarity from an American point of view- sums it up very well!- http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/rachel-held-evans-on-evangelicalisms-future

  4. étrangère says:

    Key qus. Wonder aloud if the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (one of Stott’s children, and the only UK one rather than int’l) has anything to help (I genuinely don’t know!).

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