JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BNG)—Baptist Alan Rudnick says it’s about time the 30-year-old seeker movement comes to an end.
“I think it’s reached its zenith with coffee and hipster pastors and bands. There was more style over substance,” said Rudnick, pastor of First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, N.Y. “I hope we’re done with that superficial Christianity.”
Rudnick finds encouragement in a new book by blogger Jarrid Wilson, Jesus Swagger: Break Free from Poser Christianity. The book presents an in-your-face challenge to Christians—and those who claim to be—to examine their motives and hearts when it comes to faith.
“It’s one thing to claim a love for God’s word, his commandments, his divine guidance,” Wilson writes in the introduction. “But it’s a completely different story when one actually tries to live out one’s life based on these things. It’s the difference between night and day.”
In a recent interview with Religion News Service blogger Jonathan Merritt, Wilson further explained “poser Christianity” as living with “a façade that their faith is legit and true.”
Worse yet, he told Merritt, posers are rewarded for exuding the external trappings of faith while being without the internal ones that really matter.
By “swagger,” Wilson said, he means walking the walk of faith with confidence.
“This divine swagger overflows out of a heart that has been molded by Christ himself, and through this molded heart will one find their motives to be pure and true,” he said.
Such stark challenges to the faith of others can be off-putting or offensive, said Kevin Glenn, senior pastor at Memorial Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo. Initially, Glenn said, he had a visceral reaction to the title of Wilson’s book and at what reads like accusations against other believers.
“I thought, ‘Here’s another hipster taking a shot at the church,’” Glenn said, adding it can sound like fundamentalism dressed up in hipper clothes.
“I think he represents a voice desiring authenticity,” he said. “But oftentimes those voices forget that they are part of the problem, too.”
But the more he read about Wilson’s message, Glenn said, the more he agreed with it.
“He is spot-on with the principle that if you do not arrange your life around the person of Jesus, you have to ask whether you really are a follower of Jesus,” he said.
It’s a theme Glenn preaches on regularly. But he also makes clear, at the same time, God does not play games with his children and does not keep them in the dark about his will for them.
Nor does the Holy Spirit “pull punches” from those who are honestly seeking God, he said.
“If your desire it to please God, that is pleasing to God, and he will reveal to you what you need to do to wrap your life around Jesus,” Glenn said.
What Wilson refers to as “poser Christianity” is nothing new, Rudnick said.
Evangelicals long have been guilty of hyping the Bible and salvation but neglecting to emulate Scripture in their daily lives. It’s a problem pastors have been preaching about for centuries.
“I grew up in the Baptist world where we had red-letter Bibles, and we knew those red-letter words of Jesus, and yet we don’t live them,” Rudnick said.
The ideas in Wilson’s book are good news to the church, because they confirm that the age of trying to appeal to seekers is over, he added. What people want today is authenticity and opportunities to serve; worship styles and other trappings matter less.
“So, let’s stop looking like we’re cool Christians and start doing the work of Jesus,” he said.
Wilson also is on target when he calls for Christians to get out of their churches to make an impact on the world, Rudnik said.
“It’s not good enough to know Jesus,” he said. “You have to follow him.”