Saturday, July 01, 2006

Spiritual Narcissism

I read Barna’s latest book Revolution and put off writing anything because I could not think of anything good to write. But I think the best way to explain what I read in Revolution is that Barna correctly interprets how people see spirituality today but his mistake is in his prognosis (death of the local church) and remedy (do what the revolutionaries want done).

Throughout the book my general feeling was that these supposed revolutionaries have moved from what may be labeled humanistic narcissism to spiritual narcissism. The idea that the church needs to offer a smorgasbord of spiritual endeavors so that these revolutionaries can meet their own perceived spiritual need misses the point of the local church.

I will have to think through this more but the disturbing part is the level that so many people look to Barna for guidance for the church. One of the major mistakes Barna and many on the church growth movement is to look to the world for guidance as to what the local church is look like. How can one driven by the world know what God’s church is to look like.

This all said I do think that some of Barna’s observations are valid and the church has dropped the ball. However it is not a matter of changing the church based on the worlds opinions but instead go to scripture to seek out what the local church is to look like. Barna may take ones outside spiritual veneer and proclamation too much at face value. Simply because one says they want to be like Jesus does not mean that are a believer.

As a last note I think even his opening picture of one of these revolutionaries depicts the spiritual narcissism I see so prevalent today. This person who is proclaimed to be spiritual would rather play golf than go worship with other believers. The whole idea that each person needs to seek out his or her desired manner of seeking spirituality is of utmost importance to these revolutionaries. I have seen this even from those that do not claim to be revolutionaries. I have heard people say that they do not go to bible studies as they just slow them down but is this not just another way of saying that the individual is more important than the community.

I may write more on this later as I think more on it. The whole issue with the Emergent Church is disturbing because so many people seem to be jumping on the bandwagon just as they did with the seeker sensitive movement. In reality this movement is little different. The outside may be clothed differently but inside it is the same, the self is of utmost importance. So in the end spiritual narcissism reigns and the effect is not deadly to the church but can effect it if we are not wary of it.

No comments: