When Authentic is the Most Fake You Can Be
I have had trouble with the "Authentic" movement in Christianity for quite some time now. "Authentic" Christianity can be summed up as a group of people who find more comfort in their collective flaws than they find real hope in Jesus' call to holiness.
A reaction to the massive religious scandals that rocked millennial's young church-going experience, "authentic" Christianity became a way for Christians to avoid the hard work of forgiving the biggest betrayals they had yet encountered. "Authentic" Christians rallied around their brokenness and ultimately found their identity in their sin nature than their Saviour.
This search for an authentic Christian experience has led us away from the truth of the gospel. It leads us into a trap that we as "called out ones" are ok as long as we are connected to others who are stuck in the same ruts of sin that we are. There is no room for shame or regret in the confession of an "Authentic" Christian. Just pats on the back and empty encouragements that "I struggle with that, too," and "Don't let it get you down."
This type of Christianity is fake Christianity. Let the irony sink in. The "Authentic" Christian movement was a reaction against "fake" Christians who told us to live one way whilst living another. Now, the "authentic" Christian lives confined in their self-made fake gospel that seeks comfort in the conformity of the same sins committed by the ones they felt betrayed by.
When Holy is a Four-Letter Word
Brett McCracken, in the third chapter of his book, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community, talks about how holy is the dirtiest word in the Christian vernacular.
We don't like to talk about being holy because we are too scared of being labeled as hypocrites when we fail. In turn, we have chosen to find our comfort zone in a corporate commodore of sin! We would rather know that we are accepted in our sin, than heed the call to, "be holy for [Jesus] is holy."
This is the fakest Christianity we can have. True Christianity is one that finds commodore in the beautiful substitutionary death of Jesus, the forgiveness of our great sins, and the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.
If It's Broken
The hallmark of "Authentic" Christianity is its glorification of "brokenness." Sin has broken us. While this is true, I am not convinced that Jesus had this particular theological trait in mind as the glue that binds his church together.
"Broken" has replaced the word "sin" in the "Authentic" Christian's conversation. And that is only to our detriment. As Eric Thoennes points out, "Brokenness is an interesting word because if it’s sin, we should call it that, I only feel sorry for broken people. God’s mad at sinful people.”(F1)
If we do not realize that God's anger toward our sin is real then we will never, ever, be able to understand the full beauty of grace. When we refuse to define our actions as sinful then our Christian life becomes stunted and potentially even whithers away.
If we would rather find solace in people feeling bad for us then we have yet to encounter the Jesus of the cross. A Christian who has not encountered the Jesus of the Cross may just be the fakest Christian out there.
Come on now. Let's get Uncomfortable with our sin so we can find comfort in his grace!
A place for exploring the Church in the American context. Issues may get political, cultural, and philosophical — but it’s always personal.
F1 - McCracken, Brett. Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community (p. 65). Crossway. Kindle Edition.