Recently, I’ve felt bursts of panic. The safe, mainstream Christianity of my childhood is starting to look more culturally dangerous than I ever believed. I think Jesus would be pleased.
First of all, somewhere during my lifetime, organized religion became a dirty word. It just sneaked up on me. I’m trying to figure out when it happened. Was it when Jim Bakker, the PT Barnum of Christian television, landed in jail? Did John Lennon get things rolling with his infinitely cool exploration of generic spirituality? Can I blame the academics for their relentless, decades-long attack on absolute truth?
And just like that—I realize that the guy who started dismantling organized religion in the first place was Jesus Christ.
I’m just as surprised as you are. And yet the way that Jesus overturned his uptight religious contemporaries is a world away from how self-proclaimed tolerant Americans are now dismissing the institutional church. We had better figure out the difference.