Buffet Religion, Buffet Christianity

Seventy-six percent of Americans believe in Heaven and Sixty-six percent believe they are going there. Seventy-one percent believe in Hell and less than 1/2 of 1 percent believe they are going there! These are the findings of a new research study of American views on Heaven and Hell. In a relativistic age in which we have abandoned objective or absolute truth, this is a snapshot of American’s self-serving views of religion. We pick and choose what we want to believe in ways that fit what we WANT to be true.

David Kinnaman, vice president of Barna Research Group observes the following, “Millions of Americans mix secular and various religious views to create personal belief systems. Americans don’t mind embracing contradictions. It’s hyper-individualism. They’re cutting and pasting religious views from a variety of different sources television, movies, conversations with their friends. Rather than simply embrace one particular viewpoint, and then trying to follow all the specific precepts or teachings of that particular viewpoint, what Americans are saying is, ‘Listen, I can probably put together a philosophy of life for myself that is just as accurate, just as helpful as any particular faith might provide.”

We should not be surprised that today’s Christians are also constructing a self-serving approach to the faith. Most Christians seem to think the faith is a buffet when it is, in fact, a fixed menu. At a buffet you pick and choose what you want, but in a fixed menu you get it all, and usually pay a high price for it, so you eat it all.

Buffet Christians want to take the part they like and leave the less appealing parts you know, lots of desserts and no broccoli. True Christians understand that you can’t get the benefits of faith if you don’t accept its challenges,

The buffet menu looks something like this:

Appetizers: Eternal Life, Abundant Life, A Loving God, Jesus as Savior, Jesus as Friend, Holy Spirit as Comforter, Holy Spirit as Giver of Gifts, Filled with Holy Spirit, Renewed Mind, Non-Conformist, Leader, Follower

Sacramental Worship, Teaching Oriented Worship, Experience Oriented Worship, Hymns, Choruses, Pastor as teacher, Pastor as Counselor, Pastor as Shepard, Fellowship, Prayer, Apostle’s Teaching.

Vegetables: God of Wrath, Holy God, Daily prayer, Daily time in Word, Self Denial, Cross-bearing, Jesus as Lord, Jesus as Judge, Jesus as Teacher, Holy Spirit as Convictor, of Sin, Grieved Holy Spirit, Concern for the poor, Advocate for Justice. Rejection of: fornication, impurity, idolatry, sorcery, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, envy, drunkenness and carousing,

Entrée: Contributor to Culture, Countercultural, Non-conformist to culture, Discerns difference between faith and culture, Communicates gospel to culture, Keeper of the Ten Commandments, Hater of Divorce, World Christian, Missions Minded, Obedient, Resists temptation, Skilled in using weapons of spiritual warfare (truth, righteousness, faith, proclaiming the gospel of peace, word of God).

Dessert: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Additives for American diets: (Nutritional Value not Known): Pastor as Personality/Entertainer, Pastor as CEO/ Entrepreneur, Christian Cruises, Christian “Entertainment,” Christian Publishing, Christian Electronic Media, Televangelists, Best Seller Lists, Living Nativities, Christmas Pageants, Church Growth Seminars and much, much more.

Barna’s polls regularly find little difference between self-identified Christians and the rest of American culture. American Christianity is often described as large but shallow, “three thousand miles wide and three inches deep.” We hear Christians sometimes complain that Christianity just “isn’t working for me.” Many teenagers after finishing high School ¢â‚¬Ëœdrop out’ of active participation in the faith of their fathers saying, “I never saw anything in my parent’s life that made me want to be a Christian.”

When we embrace buffet Christianity we become FAT but not FIT. This lack of fitness eventually leads to anemia, serious spiritual illness and eventually death, especially if the Additives for American Diets become a significant replacement for items with known nutritional value.

The Christian life is not a buffet; it is a fixed menu. Everything on the menu has been carefully planned and is time-tested to produce health and growth. As the old chorus puts it, Jesus must be “Lord of All or not Lord at all.”

‚© CRS Communications 2003

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in October 28, 2003 by | No Comments »

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