Sunday, March 04, 2007

A theologically troublesome survey question

I came across this in a church survey...

I would rather hear a "Christ-Centered" message
from the pulpit than a "social message."

Somewhat Agree
Somewhat Disagree

Does this mean that a social message should not include Jesus or that a Jesus message should not include society?


sarah said... olde social gospel vs. evangelical gospel debate. Very irksome. Matthew 25:31-46. 'nough said.

André said...

I think that I understand the reasoning behind this question, even though the wording does not convey it completely. The idea is that there are some preachers that will spend their entire time preaching about a social issue and never once mention the Son of God, while other preachers will only preach about Jesus while not making the message socially relevant. The key is to find the balance between the two extremes. This question should have tried to convey that they were looking to see if they were keeping it balanced (Assuming, of course, that this is what they were doing by asking the question...).

Corey said...

Andre's point is well taken, but the survey question seems to be loaded in a particular direction. It would be useful to know what kind of denomination used this item. The word "Christ-centered" has a quite specific meaning within a segment of the evangelical subculture. Following Chris Smith, it is a "purity marker." We are Christ-centered, while some of those other bodies are not.

If the item was used in a denomination that embraces this "Christ-centered" master-status, then this item seems to function only to cherry-pick evidence that we are a "Christ-centered" body. It's a PR item, not a measurement.

Following Sarah's comment, one has to wonder... What's not Christ-centered about caring for one's brother's and sisters?

Of course those are the sorts of questions that keep me estranged from much of evangelical Christianity.

sarah said...

I have to agree with Corey that I think a little more than some poor wording with best-of-intentions was at work here. My reaction is the same: there is no such thing as Christ-centered without neighbor-loving. Now, if I wanted a sociological lecture on Sunday mornings, I might go the Unitarian church down the street...but the most challenging and invigorating church bodies I've been a part of have been centered on reconciliation: Christ-us & us-us.

Anonymous said...

no posts for three days...are you going on spring break with your students now that you have tenure?

Brad Wright said...

I agree that the question wording probably doesn't convey what the church really believes, but it was rather funny!

Good thoughts in these comments....