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getting religion

Kenneth Woodward was the religion editor at Newsweek magazine for nearly forty years. He identifies as a Roman Catholic. Mr Woodward's 2016 book, Getting Religion chronicles what he witnessed and reported as America transitioned from being “a nation with the soul a church” (G.K. Chesterton’s description) to the post-Christian culture we are today. 
Mr Woodward interviewed most every religious leader from the 1950’s into the new millennium.

He tells of the Dalai Lama’s disappointment in American designer Buddhism. Practitioners pay him deference when he talks about the environment and religious tolerance. But they ignore his declarations that abortion and euthanasia are violations of the Buddhist principle of “nonviolence toward all sentient beings”. In San Francisco, of all places, the Dalai Lama announced that one could not be a Buddhist and have sex with others of the same gender. Talk about speaking truth to power.

Whenever evangelists called (he likens them to salesmen) Mr Woodward would only meet over lunch—on them, at a pricey restaurant, and he routinely ordered two Jack Daniel’s as bracers for their sales pitch. He recalls Dr Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, as a short, somber, undertaker kind of man. He laid out his personal call from God to win the entire country for Christ by 1976. His next step was to evangelize the whole world by 1980. “Being in the business of saving souls, evangelists tend to identify their personal goals with God’s own, but Mr Bright was the only one to also assign God a timetable.” Mr Woodward continued:

“Over lunch I could see behind Dr Bright’s salesman’s eyes his wondering about the state of my own immortal soul. ‘Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?’ he asked.

“‘No,’ I said. ‘I do not want a personal Lord and Savior. I prefer the Savior all other Christians have.’

“Pushing Jesus as my personal Savior rankled; it sounded like Dr Bright was recommending a personal trainer. According to the Gospel, Christ is encountered through the community of faith—the church, not just in that deceptive inner space we call the heart.”

Consumer-Christianity sells
your own personal Jesus which has led many to believe the self is sacred. But Jesus didn’t offer private relationships. Christ didn’t offer a cafeteria-style teaching where individuals pick and choose their own personal spiritual path. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus promised to be present … where two or three gather in His name ~ 

Dan Nygaard