Last week on View from the Right, Auster and his readers discussed the decision by the Campus Crusade for Christ to change its name to “Cru.” In the thread, Alan Roebuck referred to his article in American Thinker that examines the “purpose driven” messages of many contemporary Protestant sects:
The purpose-driven movement begins with the premise that the only way to attract non-Christians to church is by offering to meet their felt needs, rather than their real need for salvation through Christ. If a non-Christian “seeker” visits a church where he hears the traditional Gospel message that he is a lost sinner in need of a salvation that can only come from personal repentance and trust in the atoning death of Christ, he will be repelled by the challenging message, and will not return. To prevent this failure, so the theory goes, a church must conduct market research into what people in its area want, and then find a way to give these seekers what they want.
One result is that the deep and challenging teachings of traditional Christianity must never be presented in the Sunday morning worship service that has traditionally been the cornerstone of Christian fellowship. Not only will non-Christian seekers probably not want to hear that God regards them as sinners, but they will have no interest in what Warren (and theological liberals) dismissively call “doctrine,” that is, the actual content of the religion preached by Christ and the Apostles. The result is a Christianity that retains the rituals and some of the language of traditional Protestant Christianity, but is effectively stripped of its content.
In a typical Sunday morning worship service at a typical seeker-sensitive church, attendees experience the following:
* Professionally-produced “praise music” that expresses emotions, but contains little theology, that is, little articulation of sometimes-difficult religious truths.
* A sermon that emphasizes how faith in God can make your life better, but does not mention the troubling idea that God is angry with sinners, and demands repentance and faith in Jesus in order for His wrath to be averted.
* A liturgy (form of worship) that embodies current standards of popular decorum and entertainment rather than pointing people to a transcendent God.
* Children’s programs that entertain (albeit in a quasi-Christian mode) rather than push the youth to learn challenging doctrines.
What the purpose-driven movement offers, in short, is a religious product for religious consumers, people who want a certain amount of religiosity in their lives, but who don’t want to be troubled by the full measure of Christianity.
Since the Reformation, Protestantism has fleshed out its doctrine and practices by following the secular Zeitgeist. In an individualistic, consumerist, liberal society, “seeker centered” spirituality is an expected Protestant mutation.