Mike Potemra talks about an NYC church he found:
One of the most common criticisms of U.S. Evangelicalism today is that it has become bland and sentimental, offering an easy solution to . . . well, to what exactly is not clear, because there is a greater reticence now than in the past in talking about sin. So it’s refreshing to encounter a place like Times Square Church in New York City, where both the hymns and the preaching declare unflinchingly the need in which men and women live — despair, addiction, disgrace, sin — to provide the rawest context for the religious message.
Kudos to Potemra for finding a church that he can connect to! I can see two different strands of Christian theology that were part of my life over the last four years.
The first was what was active within my time at college. I didn’t take part in it all but took note to what I saw or heard about. Much of it was evangelism based (e.g. – serving hot dogs to inebriated college students to show them the compassion of Christ as well as foster conversation), fellowship (bowling, bon fires), and theology pointing to contemporary writers/theologians such as John Piper, Donald Miller, John Eldridge, et al. This wasn’t by any regards a “hell, fire, and brimstone” group nor was it homogeneous.
The second was less community based but built upon a few key friends and my wife. This loosely associated group focuses less on evangelism or “witnessing” because generally our gifts were not in that area. This group wore compassion, hospitality, and in someways a privatized faith. When I say privatized, this “group” still claims Jesus as they Way for them but doesn’t place salvation over a holistic relationship when they meet someone. This group values people who are not Christians and doesn’t place them as second-rate citizens until they accept JC. This group reads Jacques Ellul, Henri Nouwen, Andrew Marin, Reinhold Niebuhr, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Shane Claiborne, et al.
The second strand can definitely be seen as bypassing sin (the Cross). What I see this as is not forgetting about sin but not staying at the Cross. Jesus died but also rose. His resurrection got us past sin and gave us His Helper (John 20: 19- 23) and personal relationships (John 21) . Another difference between the second and first strand is the view of sin, Satan, and the battle against the rulers and authorities (Ephesians 6:12). The second strand doesn’t see every problem as blamable on sin but takes into account the human aspects: our past decisions, our family upbringings, our habits, and our influences. Leavened throughout all of those human aspects of life are variances of sin (or non-life) but the second strand doesn’t see that you can just “pray away” that spirit of lust, greed, or other sin. You have to take it one step at a time and not much in life is simple enough to be explained in easy terms.