One of the lessons of the book is, there is some picking and choosing in following the Bible, and I think that’s OK. Some people call that cafeteria religion, which is supposed to be a disparaging term, but I think there’s nothing wrong with cafeterias, I’ve had some delicious meals in cafeterias. I’ve also had some terrible meals in cafeterias. It’s all about picking the right parts. You want to take a heaping serving of the parts about compassion, mercy and gratefulness—instead of the parts about hatred and intolerance.
This is similar to a conversation I had with a U of L student last week. At first, she denied being a Christian, then said she is a Christian, but never tells anyone that. The following is a shortened paraphase of how the conversation went:
Me: So you claim to follow Christ, but don't tell anyone that Christ is your Lord?
Anonymous Christian (AC): Well, yes because it is associated with organized religion which has done some good things. I did a service project one time with a youth group, but organized religion has done more harm than good.
Me: So you privately follow the teachings of Jesus?
AC: Yes, Jesus taught many great things. I am a pacifist.
Me: You know, Jesus taught some pretty radical things. When is the last time you read any of his teaching?
AC: You mean the Bible? I haven't read it since I was little. But of course no one is perfect. We are all sinners. Gandhi was not always a pacifist, and Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife. I don't follow these men because of their flaws, but because of their strengths.
Evangelism today requires time and energy. Pluralism is here to stay, and is a force to be reckoned with. We need to be aware of where our culture is, which means studying culture, and being deeply informed by the Christian worldview. Evangelism must start with creation. Tracts and the Roman Road are not as effective as they once were, in our post-Christian culture.