Reading through “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God” this week left me frustrated and a little annoyed. I’m not sure if it was the style of writing, or the way that the author was describing her experiences and her interpretation of those experiences, but I did not feel as if she was trying to help us understand, but rather, I felt as if she was somehow taking away from the humanity of the people and made them seem almost a little crazy, but not really… I don’t know how to describe it. I just don’t know if it was a fair representation of Evangelicals… it was flat.
With that said, there are a few things that I found interesting… so rather than complain about how annoyed I was, I will talk about the handful of things that I found helpful in my thinking.
Luhrmann on Church: “Church is a class in which you learn how to hear what God has to say.” (p6) Though that would not be first thing that I would say when asked about what church is, I think that it’s an interesting and almost refreshing thought… very different than what Christ had in mind when he established the church, but helpful in the way that we have formed church.
Luhrmann on the pastor: “The pastor understands himself to use everyday human experience to illuminate Biblical truth.” (p11) I really like this description of what a pastor understands themselves to be. I’ve been struggling with my pastoral position and this on understanding that I would be willing to embrace.
Luhrmann on teaching vs. sermon: “A sermon implies that the speaker himself is important.” (p12) It’s the idea that the congregation comes to hear the pastor’s insights on different subjects. “Teaching emphasizes the that the teaching is more important than the subjects.” (p12) This is the idea that the principles described in the Bible are more important than the pastor’s interpretations and thoughts.
Luhrmann on imitation of Christ vs. pretending to be like Christ: We are called to imitate Christ in this world, not to pretend to be something we’re not. “To imitate is not the same as to pretend. To imitate is to act. To pretend is to suspend disbelief…. To imitate is to behave in reality.” (p75) The entire “Let’s Pretend” chapter was really frustrating for me, but I really like the idea of Christians being imitators of God. It’s the highest calling and incredibly difficult. The Christian life is not about pretending to be something we’re not, but walking in the reality of Christ. So beautiful!
Luhrmann on prayer: “Prayer trains people to ignore the distracting world and to focus on their inner experience.” (p189) – I’m curious as to what you all think about this…