Professor Anthony Bradley of King's College has written an excellent article entitled The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic, and Shamed. In this article, Bradley cites David Platt and the notion of "radical Christianity" for contributing to this new legalistic mindset, and states the following:
"Being a 'radical,' 'missional,' Christian is slowly becoming the 'new legalism.' We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40)........I continue to amazed by the number of youth and youth adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regularly shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not being doing something unique and special. Today’s Millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they 'settle' into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thess 4:11 says, 'aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.' For too many Millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about." (Anthony Bradley, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, King’s College, New York)Or to paraphrase Christian researcher Bob DeWaay, "Why can't we just be ordinary Christians, living out our lives fulfilling ordinary responsibilities by keeping a job, paying bills, taking care of our families, etc.?" In other words, there is a growing perception in evangelicalism that those who don't do Great Big Things For Jesus are somehow deemed inferior. That unless you've sold everything to go take care of orphans behind enemy lines while taking incoming fire, you're sort of a "second-tier Christian." So unconsciously, but pervasively, there is now a mindset in evangelicalism that there are these "ordinary Christians" who live in America and take care of their families and work at their jobs, and then there are the behind-enemy-lines-in-a-third-world-country "Super Christians." And this new pietistic mindset of missional legalism sure does seem to prey upon the immaturity and folly of youth, doesn't it?
"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge." (Romans 10:2)For the record, please understand that I am not against missions. And neither am I saying that it's bad or wrong for Christians to go to third world countries and feed orphans behind enemy lines. What I'm saying is that the "ordinary Christians" in America and the Christians who go to third world countries to proclaim Christ and care for the needy are both important for building up the body of Christ, and both are vitally necessary.
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)
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