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My friend and fellow blogger, Nathan (who runs the Christians Behaving Badly blog), drew my attention to an interesting YouTube phenomenon today.

In case you haven’t noticed, parodies of Apple’s current “Get a Mac” ad campaign have been in vogue on YouTube for awhile now, so I figured it was only a matter of time before creative, media-savvy churches got in on the act.

That day has arrived. Now, courtesy of Community Christian Church — a multi-site congregation in Illinois — we have some pretty nifty faith-based “Get a Mac” parodies. In essense, they contrast external, superficial expressions of what is mistakenly taken for Christian faith (represented by the up-tight, insecure, condescending nerdy guy) with an incarnational lifestyle, i.e., Christ following (represented by the laid-back, regular looking guy who actually has some social skills). Take a look:

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4

Clever, amusing, and in most respects, very helpful and accurate. Jesus defined the eternal life He promised to bring in this way:

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Thus, Christian faith is characterized chiefly by a dynamic of relationship between Creator and creation, God and man; Christ Himself makes such relationship possible through His death, resurrection, and ongoing ministry at the right hand of the Father. These videos camp out on that truth, communicating it in simple, entertaining fashion — and I’m quite happy about that. So let me say up front that I commend this church for its creativity, for the apparently high production value of these videos (the church should exemplify excellence), for their faithfulness to a core message of the Scriptures, and for the risk-taking inherent in doing something a little different.

There are, however, a few things that trouble me a bit about these videos:

  • I object to how they disparage the term “Christian.” I understand that the idea of who a Christian is and what they ought to look like is egregiously muddied in our culture, often because many who take the name to themselves have no business doing so. But I think a creative church could and should have found a way to communicate the content of these parodies without dragging the name and idea of “Christian” through the mud. After all, it’s a biblical name that has been associated closely with discipleship — or what these parodies would consider “Christ following” — from the times of the early Church forward (see Acts 11:26). To my way of thinking, we ought to work to make “Christian” synonymous with “Christ follower,” not antithetical to it. In this respect, I find these videos damaging and confusing.
  • This is perhaps unintentional, but I think the first video has the effect of disparaging Christian scholarship. It seems to imply that bookishness is innately pharasaical, whereas somebody who is really close to the heart of God (i.e., a Christ follower) doesn’t need (nor should they desire) such gobbledy-gook. Of course, the point is well taken that being Christian is by no means a function of mere education or scholarship. But the church has benefited in every age from the work and witness of plenty of Christians who were also highly educated — including none other than St. Paul, who had the educational equivalent of a Ph.D. and could be considered an archetypal example of a Christ follower.
  • I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am an unashamed participant in the Charismatic movement. As such, I’ve had my share of debates with mainline evangelicals about the proper understanding of the charismata as they relate to modern faith and praxis — some of these discussions were friendly, and some, sadly, resulted in broken relationships with other believers. The defensive part of me reacts a bit to the last video, and perceives it as something of a swipe at the Charismatic/Pentecostal practice of exercising the gifts of the Spirit (namely tongues and prophecy) in a worship context. If that was part of the video’s intent, then it’s essentially asserting that people like me aren’t Christ followers. That’s unfair, unhelpful, patently unscriptural, and untrue. If, on the other hand, the point is merely that worship ought to be an exercise in genuine heart response to God as opposed to an outward, artificial affectation of spirituality that is actually a fleshly attempt to make something happen, then I can say a hearty amen.

I also found the following video on YouTube, which I thought was a healthy, positive response to the videos Community Christian Church produced. It ministered to me, so I wanted to share it with you.

Am I being too sensitive, or do you think I brought up valid points?

Blessings,

Rob
aka The MonT-SteR