The Perils of Ignorant Critique

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal there was an article by Brett McCracken entitled, “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity.”

It’s not often that I see a Baker press author turning his book (Hipster Christianity) into a mainstream media editorial, so I was intrigued to see what the article would say. I left hoping that the book McCracken has written shows more awareness of the issues he purports to be discussing than this article does.

McCracken describes “emergent” as an attempt to “rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant”. At best, this is a thin assessment at worst, it is completely false. Emergent did arise out of cultural awareness, but recognizing that culture is shifting from modernity to postmodernity, and striving to articulate the gospel accordingly, is not the same thing as trying to be hip and relevant.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a worse description of Emergent than “to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it ‘cool'”.

The article later goes on to accuse any Christian who has talked or written about sex of using shock tactics. So Lauren Winner’s Real Sex is nothing other than a way to shock people and look cool by talking about sex in a Christian setting.

And all this from a person who has written a book called Hipster Christianity–if the article is any reflection of what McCracken means by “Hipster,” he doesn’t even understand the word used in the title. He means “Hip” Christianity. (Next time, you might check out the definition of your “movement”on Wikipedia–you’d end up with better data.)

I can only hope that this article is a mulligan and that the book shows actual awareness of the movements he thinks he’s critiquing rather than rumors, hearsay, and other misrepresentations to make McCracken’s own positions look better.

I’ll have a follow-up on this tomorrow, dealing with the larger question that I think is behind McCracken’s critique: what does Christianity have to do with contemporary culture?

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