D.H. Williams, Professor für die Theologie der Kirchenväter an der Baylor University (USA), hat einen ausgezeichneten Artikel über die wachsende Konsumkultur in den evangelikalen Gemeinden bei CT veröffentlicht:
Our consumerist culture has co-opted many churches, creating a mall-like environment marked by splashiness and simplistic messages. When the church becomes essentially a purveyor of religious goods and services, it reinforces the believer’s own consumerist habits, allowing him to pick and choose according to taste or functionality. Inhaling from the cultural atmosphere a mania for unlimited choice, churches breathe out as many different programs as possible, looking to accommodate as many different believers as possible. Perhaps unintentionally, this approach treats personal liberty and the inalienable »right« to choose as the highest goods of life.
Ironically, the weight placed on personal experience and freedom from conventional beliefs is reminiscent of early-20th-century Protestant liberalism. Updating their theology for modern fashions, the heirs of Schleiermacher and Hegel emphasized the primacy of the individual’s experience of God, setting aside complicating issues of doctrine as divisive, latently authoritarian, or just plain irrelevant. Despite many important differences between this sort of liberalism and the contemporary evangelical megachurch, there are striking similarities in their approaches to individual experience, popular culture, and socially uncomfortable doctrines.
But the big question remains: In what direction are such churches taking their members? What kind of Christianity will emerge from an overemphasis on appealing to anyone who might attend a church service for any reason? When the apostle Paul became »all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some« (1 Cor. 9:22), he did not reinvent or re-orient the faith of which he said, »I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received« (1 Cor. 15:3, ESV). The kind of transformation Paul experienced and tried to ignite in the early church was grounded in a tradition that made Christian faith, hope, and love starting points for the believer’s growth. If our post-denominational (or post-Protestant) era continues to elevate personal freedom of choice, the stability of the church’s historical wisdom will be desperately needed.
At the very least, the mere entertainment techniques will never substitute the hard work of teaching believers to acquire the divine life of the Father by the Son through the Holy Spirit. This kind of life may well entail sacrificing certain pleasures of one’s former life or rejecting certain elements of Western culture. And the church that would foster it must have goals that eclipse inclusiveness.