Consumerism is the dominant worldview of North Americans. As such, it is competing with the kingdom of heaven for the hearts and imaginations of God's people.
By yielding its imagination to the forms around it, has the church, like ancient Israel, lost the ability to be an alternative people of God?
In a commodity culture we have been conditioned to believe nothing carries intrinsic value. Instead, value is found only in a thing's usefulness to us, and tragically this belief has been applied to people as well.
Modern people may express outrage at the horrors of the African slave trade or the Holocaust, but in truth the commodification of human beings that made those atrocities possible is more prevalent today than ever before.
Commodification has led most people to view God as a device to be used rather than an all-powerful Creator to be revered.
Approaching Christianity as a brand explains why the majority of people who identify themselves as Christians live no differently than other Americans yet spend enormous amounts of money on Christian products.
Christ's true people are branded with love.
Ministries that focus on manufacturing spiritual experiences may actually be retarding spiritual growth by making people experience-dependent.
The personification of institutions in our culture means the institutional church, rather than the flesh-and-blood people of God, has become the vehicle of God's mission in the world. This is salvation via institution, paradise via programs.
The influence of consumerism has led us to confuse institutions for people, means for the mission, and programs for the Spirit's power.
Let's break free from artificial relationships with unfeeling, uncaring, unloving institutions that cannot contain the unpredictable wind of God's Spirit, and focus instead on building soulish connections with real people filled with the breath of God.
The spiritual life must find its origin in silence.
Self-denial, the surrendering of immediate desires, is a prerequisite of the Christian life. This is noticeably absent in the gospel of Consumer Christianity.
Rather than pursuing our calling to present a vision of a world filled with God's power and love, the contemporary church merely presents the world as a two-dimensional facsimile of the consumer culture, albeit with a Jesus fish imprint.
Consumer Christianity seeks to construct programs to capture God's power and produce predetermined outcomes, rather than surrender to the mysterious movement of God's grace which, like the wind or fire, is beyond our control.
Divine agnosticism, the sort I'm advocating, affirms the existence of God but then acknowledges our human inability to fully grasp his infinite nature.
We have all swallowed the cultural punch that believes institutions are both the means and the end of God's mission in the world.
We live, and move, and have our being in a consumer cosmos. The global economy and interconnection of markets and resources means every time we eat a meal, listen to music, put on clothing, or read a book, we are being consumers.
Jesus isn't interested in negotiating. He knows that death, the surrendering of our immediate desires, is how we can take hold of an even greater joy.
History has shown syncretism to the culture is a chronic ailment of the church.
The alternative to prefabricated-experience spirituality is what has been practiced by Christians for centuries: prayer.
Our longing to pass through the gates of eternity will not be satisfied by any external experience, but by the dwelling of God within.
When we expect transformation to occur through external experiences, we are opting for an inferior model of spiritual formation.
The god of Consumer Christianity does not inspire awe and wonder because he is nothing more than a commodity to be used for our personal satisfaction and self-achievement.
Scripture champions contentment and self-control, not the endless pursuit of personal desires. Teaching and modeling these increasingly un-American values is not a high priority in most churches.