Can the Gospel Be Cool?

Maybe not. Maybe “coolness” detracts from the gospel message in ways that turn the message into something it isn’t. Brett McCracken elucidates:

Christians of all people should grasp the inextricability of form and content. The Incarnation itself demonstrates it. The Word made flesh is content meeting form (John 1:1-18). The gospel is not some ethereal, conceptual “message” as much as it is an enfleshed reality and storied form. The gospel message is embedded within and derived from a medium: the medium of a man named Jesus, out of a nation named Israel, crucified in a place named Calvary.

…we must admit that the particular shape and style Christianity takes has some bearing on what people perceive it to mean. Does the gospel message conveyed in a glitzy American suburban megachurch equal that which is conveyed by the beleaguered churches of Iraq or Syria? Does the fact that a church meets in a bar, or a cathedral, or a gutted shopping mall, or someone’s living room, make no difference whatsoever in how the church’s faith is understood?

I think it’s naive for Christians to suggest that medium is something separate from message; they are intertwined. The architects of the great cathedrals in Christian history understood it; composers of sacred music like Handel and Berlioz and Tavener understood it. And yet contemporary evangelical Christians seem to have lost the inextricable connection between form and content. It’s one of the reasons, I think, why evangelical movies, music and artistic output have such a reputation for mediocrity. In privileging content over form, and caring about medium only insofar as it efficiently conveys a message, we’ve tiptoed down a Gnostic path of dualism that doesn’t really resonate with how embodied people live in this world.

(Slight pause while I digest a sentence that has “Gnostic,” “dualism,” “resonate,” and “embodied people” in it. Also “insofar.”)

McCracken makes some compelling points, and any church that takes pride in its edginess while saying they preach the same Gospel as any other church should address them.

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