Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Lemonade-Twaddle of the Consumer Church

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

In my doctoral program at Northwestern University I served as a T.A. (teacher's assistant) to my philosophy and theology mentor, Dr. James Will. One of Dr. Will's interests was existentialism. One of his courses was on the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. I sat in Dr. Will's class, and taught it a few times when he was out of town. (Dr. Will studied under Reinhold Niebuhr, and referred to him as "Reiny.")

Kierkegaard was a Christian theist (yes, there are plenty of theistic existentialists). One Kierkegaardian theme was his polemic against the banality of the Church of Denmark. It had become colonized by secular culture. It had taken on the shape of this world. This outraged Kierkegaard. He wrote against it. He called it out. Kierkegaard's attack on the secular church is prophetic, and speaks to us today.

He wrote:

The sort of men who now live cannot stand anything so strong as the Christianity of the New Testament (they would die of it or lose their minds), just in the same sense that children cannot stand drink, for which reason we prepare for them a little lemonade—and official Christianity is lemonade-twaddle for the sort of beings that are now called men, it is the strongest thing they stand, and this twaddle then is their language they call “Christianity,” just as children call their lemonade “wine.”
- Kierkegaard, Attack on Christendom, p. 277 (1854)

Apply this to the American Consumer Church.