The Spiritual and Fiscal Recession

My friend Rev. Lindsey Williams:

The spiritual recession and the fiscal recession were brought about by the same thing: consumerism.

Feel free to discuss.

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Comments

  1. Not knowing what Lindsey is referring to specifically as the “spiritual recession” portion, I’ll just blaze ahead under the banner of assumption. Always a good plan, with equally good results.

    I think I can generally agree with this, but perhaps I’d use the word “idolatry” instead of “consumerism” just to broaden it out some. I think there are more idols at play than just the one, but consumerism certainly has one of the honored places at the table.

  2. Marty Altman says:

    Recession caused by idolatry/consumption of things and acts that we inevitably could not pay for or atone — I like it. But if Jesus paid it all, then the metaphor seems to lag. Unless, that is, we ask ourselves THE question of consumerism: “What then, shall we keep on sinning?” ‘Consumerism’, after all, says, “Of course I shall! I haven’t paid the debts that I already have, but instead of even trying I will medicate my pain by going deeper into debt.” OR, “I’m not willing to give up my sin/idolatry, so instead I will medicate my shame by continuing my sin.” The thorn in the flesh is a cruel taskmaster.

    I think he used the wrong words, but I like what he wrongly said. :)

  3. I think you might be pushing his metaphor a little too far, Marty. The consumerism he’s talking about in the church is people approaching the church as consumers– what experience can the church offer, what programs, what practical advice– and the church giving in to that by offering more and more dramatic things to “get people in the door.”

    We’ve done that instead of offering them what they really needed all along, but seems less exciting– the simple Gospel. So our churches have become entertainment centers instead of hospitals. Places where you go to find out 7 ways to have a better marriage, not places where you go to worship the God of the universe. Eventually, the excitement of that runs out, just like the clock runs out on the financial debt you accrue for years.

    In this same talk, he said something like this: the ways we’ve been doing church– 3 ways to do this, 4 secrets about that, etc.– are like making the minimum payment every month on a card you’re continuing to swipe every day. Eventually it’ll all crash in on you.

  4. Marty Altman says:

    Ah, Jake, when have I ever NOT taken a metaphor TOO FAR!!! :)

    Sorry for that misunderstanding. I was thinking he meant consumerism in general and spiritual recession for the nation at large, churched or not. (“spiritual” can be a broad term.)

    Maybe I could teach a class on three proven ways to jump to conclusions. Seminar begins tonight. Free food. Laser Lights. Anonymity.

  5. i’m enjoying the timeliness of reading machen’s ‘christianity and liberalism’. it helped put Obama’s speech last night into perspective and applies to this discussion too. quoting machen:

    “The truth is that the materialistic paternalism of the present day, if allowed to go unchecked, will rapidly make of America one huge “Main Street”, where spiritual adventure will be discouraged and democracy will be regarded as consisting in the reduction of all mankind to the proportions of the narrowest and least gifted citizens…But whatever solution be found for the educational and social problems of our own country, a lamentable condition must be detected in the world at large. It cannot be denied that great men are few or non-existent, and that there has been a general contracting of the area of personal life. Material betterment has gone hand in hand with spiritual decline.”

    oh and he wrote this in 1923…

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