Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Sunday, May 24, 2009

cafeteria christianity

Whenever I've heard the term "cafeteria Christianity", it's always been used in a negative sense — until now. James McGrath has peeled open the metaphor and served up a meaty defense of the idea.

Now before you get all steamed and rush off to flame him for it, simmer down and feast your eyes on the way he dishes out a new understanding of the phrase:

All who consider themselves Christians are in the cafeteria. The difference is that some of us enter delighting the buffet, eager to taste new things and help ourselves to a little of this and a little of that, aware that we are not eating absolutely everything that is on the menu. Others simply enter and say "I'll have what he's having" and believe that they are tasting everything, when in fact what their pastor, family, church or denomination is serving is never everything Christianity has to offer, never everything "the Bible says", never everything that Christianity is, was or has been.

I'm sure some people will find this interpretation hard to swallow. They will decide this is a half-baked idea, not worth its salt, a recipe for disaster.

But I'm going to chew on it for a while. The extended metaphor seems a bit raw; I'm not sure whether it would withstand a grilling. But McGrath does have a point: if we limit ourselves to the white bread teachings of one church, we won't get the whole enchilada of the Christian experience.

So I'm going to let these ideas marinate overnight.

For now, I'll just savor this tasty morsel from McGrath:

Let me close by noting that the cafeteria is full of people debating the merits of this or that food. But the point of the cafeteria is not simply to stay there, but to feed there and then go forth with fresh strength and energy to do something more useful than simply debate food tastes.

That's a delicious way to refer to the work of the church.

Please, go devour McGrath's entire post. It's some good food for thought.

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At 5/26/2009 12:02 PM, Blogger truevyne said...

Your writing about another's post was delicious.


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