Monday, March 28, 2011

"Trinket Evangelism"

I thought this was a particularly trenchant critique of the way Christians do evangelism in America. The author obviously slants his criticism toward the Orthodox Church (of which he is a part), but I think his criticisms hold just as true (if not moreso) for evangelical Christianity which thrives on "marketing" the Gospel as if fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on your salvation:

Conversely, if we are not to self-ghettoize, then we also ought not to be overly aggressive in adopting any and all “missionary” methods. Really, billboards? Really? “This blood’s for you” with a picture of a chalice? Come on. We’re not going to win that one people. Budweiser will always be more popular. Is the Gospel a less consumed competitor of Bud? Or of Coca-cola? The same holds with “trinket evangelism,” in which we print icons on anything with a surface size of at least two square inches. It’s all just about “the Great Commission”? Yes, but only if you realize that Great Commission has a liturgical context. As soon as you do that, I think you’ll pause before marketing Orthodoxy as mere commodity. It is one thing to admit many in America use consumerist language to speak of their adherence to Orthodoxy (whether “cradle” or “convert”). It is quite another to promote that model as the model and to embrace it with all the vigor of a small evangelical parish being outgunned by the local Mega-church that stays strong despite its revolving door of membership.

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