Seducing Eve with a Yummy Apple: Encountering Church Growthery

By Joel A. Hess

We are witnessing a reality in the western world that I don’t believe anyone would have truly believed possible even ten years ago, even though all the signs of its eventuality were present all the way back to the naive metaphysical premise found in the declaration of independence. Today, most people in the West believe that the validity of something is entirely a subjective enterprise. The obvious manifestations of this new religion appear in the growing list of invented sexualities as well as the ability for some to look at the picture of a human being in a mother’s womb and call it a clump of cells. Yet, to top off such lunacy, laws are being founded based on these so-called truths that have absolutely no validity in the physical world or the rules of logic. They sit upon sand. Such is the nature of anything purely based on subjectivity.

A society will fall apart if it is unable to agree on simple observations such as right and wrong, let alone whether someone is a male. While subjective experiences should not be disregarded, they should never be the primary means by which anything is determined.

In fact, when a society can no longer go to something outside of itself to determine truth, whether it’s a constitution, holy scripture, reason, etc., might well make right. We have seen this in the past and are witnessing it today. This is soft fascism, suppose. Things are falling apart.

George Orwell writes, “Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists. … The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, “It never happened” – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.”

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Subjective determination of truth lies at the heart of Eve’s rebellion. Instead of adhering to the external word of God, she clung to her sensual perception of the fruit—its beautiful looks at tastiness. Then she violently stole what was not hers.

Today, conservative Christians and church leaders stand in awe at how ridiculous our society has become because it no longer trusts objective determiners of reality. Yet, many of these same people apply the same subjective litmus test to Christian truths.  And have been doing so for some time.

Ironically, conservative evangelical Christianity has been unknowingly cultivating our current nihilist culture for some time. In the name of God’s mission, we have catered to the Eve in all of us who desire to determine truth by how it tastes!

In the 19th century, both liberal and conservative strains of Christianity actually invented post modernism as much as Nietzsche! On one front, Schleiermacher and Kant promoted the use of subjective means to validate truth over and against external evidence, while on the other front, so-called Bible-believing Christians taught the Church to validate God’s truth in their experiences through revivals, etc. Nietzsche called both types of existential Christianity’s bluff when he accused them of “killing God” in his brilliant essay The Mad Man.

What a poetic coincidence that the advertising execs of the 1960s were called exactly that as they sold truth through sensory filled ads to sell products. The wonderful T.V. drama Mad Men explores the nihilistic culture through the iconic ubermensch, Donald Draper.

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Today, well-meaning Christian leaders and Churches are not answering the crisis of knowledge in the postmodern age, but instead, they are inspiring it!

When we promote mechanisms of church growth that rely on how yummy the apple looks, we validate our members’ validation process! Many conservative Christians who are appalled at today’s subjective morality have been encouraging people all along to choose a church because it feels good! We all are tempted to advertise our church as a place where one will “feel” at home. Don Draper would be proud!

Even high church proponents can be accused of promoting subjective means for determining truth. How often I have heard high church people sound identical to the low church ones, “Come to our church! It’s historic and feels and looks like church.”

While we have spent so much time pushing the tasty fruit, we have neglected teaching God’s external Word. We have failed Christ’s bride no less than, Adam who apparently stood mute who the snake spoke.

We have allowed the church of Don Draper to cut our sermons down to just 15 minutes. We have spent more time and money making our church look and sound great instead of preaching and teaching great. We are scared of boring people. We have created congregations that don’t want to think or chew on God’s Word, let alone really know God’s word if it doesn’t fit on a cute little bumper sticker.

O Lord, forgive us for treating your bride like a bimbo.

God have mercy and interfere as You have done in ages past!

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One thought on “Seducing Eve with a Yummy Apple: Encountering Church Growthery

  1. Even high church proponents can be accused of promoting subjective means for determining truth. How often I have heard high church people sound identical to the low church ones, “Come to our church! It’s historic and feels and looks like church.” They think they are better because… I LOVE THIS! High church is not better. It’s what it is. Contemporary is not better. We all are sinful. I have a friend who says that the instruments don’t matter because if they did, the Pslams would have it specified with musical notes, instruments and the like. There are NO SPECIFICATIONS. Anybody play a lite or lyre that you know of? I personally love the organ and its music, but there was no organ in biblical times or even in 300. So how is any of it measurable? It’s not. It’s personal preference and when we are honest we’ll be better to ourselves as a whole. Don Draper has no place in the Church. And we need to stop dressing Her as the cover of Cosmo in order to make her more desirable.

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