In North America, Christianity is not cool.
It’s not exactly uncool either, but it’s closer to that end of the spectrum.
Around these parts, Christianity is just plain normal. At least, that’s the perception. People expect you to call yourself a Christian. Assumptions are made quickly, and they go on to inform a watered-down, stereotypical concept of Christianity. The one that people suspected from the beginning.
Of course, ask any of the assumers or those they’re making assumptions about what they mean by Christian, and you’re bound to get a huge spread of answers.
The point is, Christianity is thought to be the norm. It’s vanilla, or worse. And it’s really tough to fight the stigma of bland, out-of-date, uncool Christianity.
But I don’t want to be just average, and I don’t want Christianity to be just average either. Because it isn’t — it’s universe-changing. But also because people aren’t usually attracted to average.
* * *
I grew up knowing Christianity. But, like many people, I didn’t really discover the faith until college. By that I only mean it was in that slightly-more mature stage of life that I explored religion. What did I believe and what didn’t I? Was I going to be a Christian, or was I going to be something else? (And, to be clear, there is no nothing option. Everyone worships something.)
So it was in college that I started to figure out what Christianity was going to look like in my life. It started then (and has by no means ended), that my faith became my own.
Having grown up in the church, the basics were already ingrained, and I was familiar with a lot of the ins-and-outs of the Christian religion. (One of the beautiful things about Christianity is the fact that you can learn all you need to know in a day, and yet, in a whole lifetime — in all of human history — you can always go deeper.)
I wanted to plumb the depths.
I wanted a Christianity that was not shallow. Not plain. Not average.
Like many of us, I get bored with safe. Most people want a thrill every once in a while. We want to live on the edge.
So, because I wanted edgy Christianity, I really liked the controversial topics in theology.
Despite being 500 years old and claiming the hearts and minds of a lot of traditionally conservative Christians, I think Calvinism is one of the edgier brands of the faith. The radical nature of it — total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace; Christ alone, scripture alone, faith alone; and, of course, predestination — suggests this is no run-of-the-mill worldview. This is a faith one has to wrestle with. This is a faith that requires commitment. This is a faith that means something.
And, of course, all that is very good… as long as you really believe it.
You should never believe anything just because it is cool or edgy. You should believe it because you think it’s true. You should be able to say why.
A lot of us will get caught up in the thrill of something without really considering, Is this good? Is it right? Is it true? This is a huge problem. Imagine all the things we believe simply because we want to. All the things we attach our morality and philosophy to, for no better reason than we like the sound of it.
To me, there are a lot of beliefs held by a range of Christians — universalism, postmortem salvation, prosperity gospel, to mention some of the bigger and currently relevant ones — that would, in some ways, be extremely cool. But, no matter how much one wants a provocative, cool, newfandangled belief to call their own, what good is it if it isn’t true?
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I am still a committed Christ-follower, who is also a Calvinist. I still like philosophical and theological discussions — let’s be real: arguments — about the more fetching, exciting topics. But I’ve realized that I don’t need to emphasize the audacious points to be edgy, to have a rebellious and tantalizing faith.
Because the straight, simple message of the gospel was never boring to begin with.
The plain truth of Jesus — without all the frills and flair we feel compelled to attach to it — is not plain at all. It’s the most audacious, rebellious, tantalizing thing out there.
Scratch speaking in tongues; Jesus is more amazing. Minus prosperity gospel; Jesus is more magnetizing. Forget predestination; Jesus is edgier.
The sideshows may be good or bad, but they’re always secondary to Christ.
No matter what fascinating, daring, or captivating ideas we bring to the table of Christian belief, none of them is as fascinating, daring, or captivating as Jesus himself, no strings attached.
So, you don’t need to pursue an edgy faith. Certainly not at the expense of truth. We already have a faith that changes everything. There’s no need to soup it up for it to transform the world and every person who believes it.
Because, if you believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, and was God and man the whole way through, you already believe the edgiest thing possible.