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Christianity and Consumerism

Discussion in 'News & Current Events (Articles Required)' started by TruelightUK, Sep 14, 2002.

  1. Western society IS Chriustianity in practice.

  2. Christianity has nothing to do with socio-economic issues.

  3. Western society is as anti-Christian as they come.

  4. The Chruch which is silent on social sin is no Chruch at all.

  5. God's people should model a true alternative society.

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    Following a recent visit to one of the emerging mnations of the former Soviet Union, I was struck by the close association between the (Western-backed) Chruch and the growing consumer culture encouraged by (mostly American) foreign companies investing in the nation.  There is a definite gravitation of church members to those churches which have foreign (mostly American, but also Australian, Swedish and other European) backing, allowing them to present a glitzy commercial image, with state of the art sound systems, and 'rock star' style worship teams.   How closely do you feel the church should be identified with the standards of Western society?  Is there not a sense in which the Kingdom of God should be demonstrably separate from the Kingdom of this world, be that capitalist, socialist, fascist or whatever?  How credible is a Gospel which is openly supportive of a lifestyle unattainable by the majority of the world's popualtion?

     

    Anthony
     
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  2. Sky

    Sky Active Member

    603
    +0
    Very credible.
     
  3. Kiwi

    Kiwi Active Member

    517
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    Christian
    Married
    good to see you back truelight, I had an arguement with my brother about this issue because he is a member of a big church in a western country that sends people to former east european countries to start these kind of churches that you describe (the big flashy ones). I think going to another country to establish your denomination is not a good idea, to plant a church is a good idea, but not to further your denomination. It also tends to undervalue the small local churches that cannot afford these big stero systems or lighting. I say go in and see how you can support and back up the churches that are already there. After all the christians in these places have experienced many years of persecution. They should be coming to the west and teaching us how to have church!!!

    p.s. is 'tilter of religious windmills' referring to Don Quioxte?
     
  4. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    Hi Kiwi!

    I agree. Sadly, a lot of what passes for missionary evangelism has always tended to also embody cutural imperialism. (Eg why exactly do thousands of Christian ladies in Africa feel obliged to wear knitted woolen hats!?!) There is a reluctance to empower local people to be the Church as is relevant to their needs, and a desire to create a Church in our own image - ideally controlled by our missions Board or denominational body back home! We arrogantly assume we know best.

    BTW, I met a countryman of yours in Ukraine who's trying to help folk establish businesses without the need to play the game of bribery and corruption. Good on him!

    Anthony
     
  5. Caffeine Socialism

    Caffeine Socialism Imagine all the people.

    380
    +0
    I feel that the connection between Christianity and consumerism is that both are important, dominating aspects of the West, which is the place to be, or so to speak. The imperialism of the West, deliberate or not, spreads Western culture all over the globe, so Western cultural traits, related or not, tend to be spread as part of a package.
     
  6. BigEd

    BigEd an adopted child of God

    +3
    Christian
    Married
    I think you make a good point truelight.
    your posts in the past about the Church and social responsiblity, have made me think quite a bit. I sometimes wonder about our prioirties, while in 10/40 window christian struggle with the bare estenisals of life. we bulit super stadium churches. for awhile i was going to a oppulant church. This church would constantly ask for more and more money for various projects. As i found out more about our brothers and sister who don't even have bibles to read (reading "revolution in world missions" by Y.P. Yohannon really opened my eyes to this), i became increasing uncomfortable. I go to a church now that is "simpler" church (we actually share it with a jewish synagog), it still has the strenghts of my previous church (great praise and worship, soilid biblical teaching) but without the money and wealth obecession. My wife and I have felt more called to share some of our finacial blessings with those organizations that support Christians in 10/40 window. i fear, at least in the US, that we are very much like Laodicean church in revelation 3:14-19

    Re. 3:14-19 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the
    words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of
    God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish
    you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you an cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
     
  7. strathyboy

    strathyboy Active Member

    761
    +1
    What exactly is "10/40 window"? I've never heard of it.
     
  8. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    This refers to the area between latitudes 10 degrees North and 40 degrees South, which is home to the majority of the world's poorest people   Roughly equivalent to the 'Two-Thirds World' of those who are 'officially' in poverty. (I don;t have the precise statistics to hand).

    Anthony
     
  9. EJO

    EJO Hellafreak

    524
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    Non-Denom
    Married
    US-Republican
    Great thread,
    A yanks perspective here... besides Ed's
    I go to a smaller, of course that is relative term, church here in the seattle area, of about 300- 400 people. We rent from a middle school, and have to pack up the church every sunday in a trailer. We have planted 2 churches in the Soviet Union, and one in Ireland, and some others, I am not sure where.
    I was speaking to the missionary who, after 10 years there, came back from russia, who had trained up the russian pastor who took over the church. He was giving this new pastor advise about church growth. Because the new pastor saw these other churches (a mormon one and a mega church type) growing larger and larger.
    My missionary friend told him; " You need to let the Lord fill your pews, and be faithful in doing Gods work, you could build a congrigation on works, and/or wonders. But God will build a church on the truth of the word, and He will honor that seed that you plant."
    Or something to that effect.
    It is too bad that the christian sub-culture mirrors that of the western secular culture, I think we do what we know, and if that is the only thing we know, what else is there to offer?
     
  10. Sky

    Sky Active Member

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    Well, we could live like the Amish, on peaceful farms growing our own food, totally separate from the outside world.
     
  11. EJO

    EJO Hellafreak

    524
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    Non-Denom
    Married
    US-Republican
    good point Sky... but unfortunately, I know nothing about planting crops :)
     
  12. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    +276
    Christian
    I have close friends who run a Christian orphanage and school in Moscow, and the reason so many people are going to the American -backed churches is because they are the ones who are getting out into the city to reach people. The Russian churches sit inside their churches demanding that the people hungry for God must come to them, but the American church people are getting out into the world and drawing the people in. It doesn't have anything to do with glitz or glitter, or even consumerism, it has to with offerning of themselves. The Russian churches won't even put money or effort into making the services joyful and worshipful--they are too "sober" for exhuberance!

    Of course Americans are going to spread the American way. What else do we know?

    All I can tell you is--Americans are reaching the people with the good news, Russian churches aren't.
     
  13. Kiwi

    Kiwi Active Member

    517
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    Although I am sure the Armish are fine and happy to live like that, it is not reflecting how Jesus and the disciples lived. Jesus didn't say, 'right boys, lets find ourselves a little commune somewhere and keep away from all those rotten sinners'. But this is off the topic of christianity and consumerism. This semster I have been doing a development paper and it has been brought home to me the total inequality in our world, how many are dying because of having no food, while others die of obesity. All humans are precious to Jesus, he does not love a brit, an american or an aussie any more than he loves an african, a columbian etc. In the Bible God talks about about how if the foot hurts than the eye does as well, of being in the Body of Christ, also that we should treat others how we would want to be treated ourselves. Would we want to be hungry, shelterless and exploited? No, and neither do our brothers and sisters in other countries. That is why Christians have a responsibilty to vote with their consumer dollars and try and much as possible to make sure they are helping others out, both overseas and in our own countries.
     
  14. Kiwi

    Kiwi Active Member

    517
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    Christian
    Married
    All I can tell you is--Americans are reaching the people with the good news, Russian churches aren't. [/B][/QUOTE]

    that is a rather BIG statement to make isn't it? Russians are by nature a more sober race, Europeans are in general, having lived there for 5 years I know this (in Europe).  I also know some people who are working in Russia, with an ethnic group by Mongolia, they combined with the local Russian church and are helping them out. It is good to go to other countries to minister, when you leave your cultural baggage at home. I was a missionary for three years on a school that trained missionaries how to minister cross culturally, to sort out biblical principals from cultural ones.  When you go into a another country with the attitude of superiority and not humility the battle has already been lost. 
     
  15. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    Amen, Kiwi! (To both posts)

    I don't wish to get into a competition here between different nationalities. What concerns me is the cultural baggage coming into Eastern Europe which (as I see it) is liable to do more harm than good, in creating a covetous, competitive rat-race of a society similar to our own. There is a message of 'more is better', 'grab what you can', which I feel the Church of Jesus Christ should be resisting not assisting, and the way we live our lives in front of people, organise our Chruches and preach our message speaks volumes. If people come to Church only for what they personally can get out of it, and gravitate to the Church which gives them most and asks the least, are we truly making disciples of Christ, who told us to deny ourselves, take no thought for tomorrow, and follow him?

    We need to be asking the ssame questions of our own home Churches; are they simpl;y propping up a corrupt and exploitative society, or are they serious in holding uyp the mirror of the Gospel to every aspect of life, including how we make our money and where we spend it?  Do they encourage an attitude of selfishness and complacency, or one of self-sacrifice and compassion?  One of  covetousness, or one of giving?

    Anthony
     
  16. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    +276
    Christian


    Way to judge and show your jealousy Kiwi!

    Europeans do send out missions, but far less in numbers and proportions than American churches do. And with far less resources.

    A British Christian couple managed the orphanage before my American friends took it over, and they were unable to raise the money to run it, to educate the children, or even to buy Bibles for each child.

    My friends are not there to push their culture on people, but to open the doors to faith in God. They are constantly being bombarded by criticism from the neighboring Othrodox Churches for going out into the streets and neighborhoods and talking to people about God. The Orthodox church even called the police to examine their license to hold church services in their building. The police found everything in order, and now some of the cops who were part of the investigation have joined my friends' group, which only made the Orthodox madder.

    This is typical for the entire country, since the Orthodox church has been unwilling to accept that ritual and dryness are not attractive to the people hungering and thirsting for God.

    You show by your response that you know nothing about what is going on in Russia.

    Instead of crabbing about Americans, why don't you actually do something to help spread the gospel in Russia? When you go there and open your own mission and reach tens of thousands of your neighbors, and if you reallly find that Americans are only there to make money, then I will listen to your anger. Until then, stop being so jealous and regional and do something to save the lost.
     
  17. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    +276
    Christian
    I don't know what you are talking about. You obviously are not familiar with what is actually going on.

    I have friends that run a mission in Prague, and they are doing anything but spreading a need for affluence. They are humble people living under the same conditions as the average neighbor.

    You are confusing Coca Cola with American missionaries. Missionaries are there to get people saved, Coke is there to make money. It's very sad that you can't differientiate between the Body of Christ and a global corporation.

    I guess the massive spread of BP gas stations here is the work of British Christians wanting to spread their culture throughout American. :D :rolleyes:

    American culture is not bad. It is affluent, but that's nothing to apologize for. We work hard, we earn what we have. There is no shame in being American, no matter what jealousy drives you to believe.
     
  18. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    Unfortunately, Lambslove I have come to expect the kind of response you offer Kiwi and myself from you!

    I have spent quite a lot of time in Ukriane, and am close friends with a number of Ukrainian Christians, so I do speak from a certain degree of familiarity with the situation. I have met Ukrainian pastors who have been 'stung' by big business American ministryes who offer to lead a mission in their chruch if the church puts them up in a 5 star hotel and provides a limousine for their use! (Such bad apples, however rare, do give the rest a bad name - I've experienced the suspicion about my own motives!) .I have my own opinions about the work or the Orthodox Chruch in that country, but this is not what I am talking about here; my main association is with independent churches of pentecostal/baptist leanings, who are very concerned with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and action. As, I freely admit, are many foreign missions groups and denominations. However, experience tells me that some such Western-led (particularly, but not exclusively American) organisations do (consciously or unconsciously) use their association with prosperous western lifestyles to attract folk into the Churches. Which causing me to wonder sometimes how genuine 'conversions' are which are, apparently, motivated - at least in part - by the material beneifts of joining Christianity? Sometimes they are encouraged to expect 'blessings' to drop from heaven (via America!), without the need to change their own attitudes and work for a living, and learn to resent any suggestion that they should share their good fortune with others. There is also a clear connection between investment and control - do things our way, follow our (Western) programmes, or we will withdraw our backing, rather than a spirit of humbly enabling the indigenous people of God to do things in the way best suited to their own culture and needs. Which is the way I try to run the fund-raising organisation I head up here in UK; we may have money, but that doesn't necessarily make us experts on what is best for the people of Ukraine. Also, what message is conveyed when - some - churches invest their foreign sponsorship (and the tithes of the people) in church building projects, fantastic sound systems and the like, while doing little or nothing to combat the real physical needs of the people they claim to serve (crumbling hospitals, homeless children, substance abuse etc.)?

    Most Ukrainians (particularly the younger ones) I see are hungry for the 'blessings' of European/American lifestyles; they will spend their money on BigMacs, Levi jeans, imported beer and western cigarettes, and they long for the day when they can drive a VW (or better a BMW) instead of cram onto a delapidated tram, or maybe just scrape together enough for a 20 year old Lada. And the PR machine is their fueling that hunger. What happens when that kind of lifestyle proves unattainable - rising crime rates, violent jealousy of prosperous foreigners (and fellow countrymen who have suceeded where I haven't)? Don't we, as the Church, have a duty to speak out on such issues and, by our own lifestyles, model an alternative to such materialistic goals, rather than simply replicate the covetousness of our own society?
    As for BP; all foreign investment (particularly secular) comes with a price; no European or American big business is developing the former Soviet market for the good of other people's health - they are in it for profit!

     
    Your question about affluence and 'badness' points to the real core of my qusetion in this thread:  is Western-style consumerism truly compatible with Biblical Christianity? (And thus can we justify communicating its bvalues along with the Gospel, to other cultures?)

     Take a good hard look at the teachings of Jesus Christ. Covetousness and greed are one of the most condemned sins in the Bible. And much or our Western wealth is generated at the expense of other, more vulnerable, people, particularly in developing nations where cheap labour is easy to come by - what has James to say about exploitation? The Church of Jesus Christ needs to be very careful of blindly accepting the values of Western society; as I say, we should be in the business of holding all aspects of life (including commerce etc.) up to the mirror of the Scriptures, and refusing to condone (by positive encouragement, or silent endorsement thro' the values we model) anything which is offensive to the Lord we serve. And above all we each need to be honest with ourselves about our own motivations and values - where exactly are the 'treasures' located which really motivate the way we live our lives?

    Anthony
     
  19. Kiwi

    Kiwi Active Member

    517
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    Christian
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     :( :( :(

     You obviously did not read my post carefully. In none of the above posts did I 'crab' about americans, I was talking about western churchs in general (the western world is bigger than the US you know).  And at no time did I post that americans were there to make money. I don't know what I am surposed to be jealous about. I wasn't angry  so I don't know where you got that idea from. Your post shows what it termed 'ethnocentricism', a sociological term for 'someone who believes their culture is superior to others'. For your information the country that sends out the most missionaries in the world per head of population is Norway, followed by New Zealand, but soon to be overtaken by South Korea and Brazil. I pray that alot more Russians come to Jesus. I also pray that they will see that God made them Russian and not from somewhere else and that their culture is not inferior to any other.
     
  20. MizDoulos

    MizDoulos <font color=6c2dc7><b>Justified by grace through f

    +3
    Non-Denom
    Married
    Please Note: Let's not allow this thread to deteriorate any further. Personal conflicts or comments should be handled through e-mail or the private message option in the profile page and not aired publicly. If comments continue to create disharmony, the thread will be closed.

    Thank you for your cooperation.
     
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