The Age of Slogans

I've taken a turn in ministry of late where I seek out churches who would like to have an apologist come teach or speak, but can't afford it. Then I raise funds sufficient to go visit them. In general, you could say that this is representative of a desire to go where the church people WANT apologetics, rather than trying to convince a church that they need some of it for their own spiritual betterment.

My core teaching used to be a lecture called, "Apologetics: Cod Liver Oil for the Christian Soul." I presented the view that however distasteful you thought apologetics was, it was Biblically mandated as a practice, and every Christian had at least a marginal responsibility to become educated in some basics. No, not everyone needs to be William Lane Craig, but you should at least know where to find his books and when to refer people to them. 

It's become pretty clear, though, that the church is too busy for apologetics. Too busy with prosperity teachings. Too busy with praise choruses. Too busy with Veggie Tales. The only arguments the majority want is the kind that are reduced to mouthing slogans in praise of Jesus like, "He is risen!" on Easter.

He is risen indeed. But ask them if they know why or how that should be believed, and you'll get another slogan: "The Bible says so." And you'll seldom get past that with most Christians.

The why of this is not far to seek. It runs back to something I uncovered as targeted specifically in a book review a few years back, which I'll reprint here.


Here's another case of a scholar confirming some things I'd put together on my own; but The Juvenilization of American Christianity (JAC) adds in one piece I was missing. I had attributed much of the immaturity of the modern, Western church to individualism. JAC confirms this, but adds in the process which was the specific vehicle for the change. 

Surprise -- essentially, it was youth ministry. In this book, Bergler documents how a certain perception of crisis motivated church leaders to look to youth as a vanguard, in the hopes that they would become agents of change. To attract the youth, though, the leaders had to compete with the world's way of engaging youth; and so, we end up with today's relational sort of faith which has a heavy focus on entertainment, little regard for authority, and little concern for obligations or service. Boom bada bing: Church designed for teenagers, but when the teenagers grow up, they expect more of the same. And so the cycle gets going.

Bergler follows various branches of the church -- Roman Catholics, evangelicals, and a couple of others -- documenting how the cycle was perpetuated in them. This makes JAC a bit dull at times. There are some especially shocking bits in the mix, such as the youth leader who said that it was a sin to bore a kid (!) and a technique to make Jesus more attractive than e.g., Elvis,  by saying that Jesus is a better friend than Elvis could ever be! (It never occurred to these folks, Bergler says, that by trying to replace Elvis with Jesus, they also shifted expectations for Elvis on to Jesus!)

This is  poignant book that concisely proves its point. Read it and digest the food for thought.


Thanks to juvenile Christianity, the modern American church lives in the Age of Slogans. For a difference, try attending (as I now do) a church mostly made up of immigrants from a place like Indonesia. I have heard far more challenges to become like Jesus in a few months there than I have heard from every other church I attended over the 15 prior years. Maybe that's not surprising given that so many lived in a place where Christians were a distinct and sometimes persecuted minority. 

Maybe it would be a good thing for the American church to suffer some real persecution.


Hey man I really enjoyed your post. You need to read Marcuse. file it all under one dimensional man,
Anonymous said…
JP, I would be interested in receiving your proof that DS "the slogan man" is a janitor in real life. You said on Amazon that you would do that if someone messaged you.
J. P Holding said…
It was on his LinkedIn page, but he wised up and removed it. Email me for what info I do have left.
Anonymous said…
Send me an email to

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