22 Sep 2005

The genesis of the Evanjellybean

As requested, I shall define the term 'Evanjellybean'.

To do this, I need to explain a little history. Sometime ago, the good Lord started gently knocking me on the head with the sledgehammer of Calvinist systematic theology. I was attending a church in the 'Pioneer' chain of churches at the time. It was a fairly standard, friendly free evangelical charismatic church with some emergent tendencies and a youth pastor who liked telling poo-jokes. It was gently flirting with the cell church model, 24/7 prayer rooms and the purpose-drivel church stuff.
Gradually, as the Lord shook us up, we became more and more unhappy with the church for a variety of reasons, and eventually left, though not with any fire-works, and we remain on good terms with them and indeed love them dearly.
However, it remains a standard example of modern flippertigibbet theology, and that is sad. Before the incident I am about to relate, I used the word churchianity to describe much of the modern church of the stripe we attended, but it never quite worked. Churchianity is more your nominal C of E types who go to church because they like the choir and are on the committee. One thing I cannot take away from my dear Evanjellybean brethren is their genuine belief. They are emphatically not nominal, and will certainly, if nothing else, have a goal to be 'not a Sunday Christian'. Don't we all, of course.

Sometime ago, we paid a return visit to a morning service. The theme of the service was Grace, and the bible example/story/text was Gideon. Now, like most of the OT, that is a tale loaded with Grace, so we were encouraged. However, we learned that Gideon was suffering from a bit of crisis of confidence, and that actually, he really should have thought a lot better of himself, because after all, God had a great plan for him. This may be an encouraging thought, but it's not Grace. Grace is that he was indeed the least of his brothers, and that God uses the least, not because of any inherent goodness, but because He is gracious. If Gideon had pepped up his self-esteem and said 'yes, I agree with you Lord, I am a mighty man of valour', then I'm fairly sure he'd have been left to thresh a wee bit longer..
Perhaps we were just picky, this was, after all, an all-age service. And I don't for a moment believe that those in leadership really didn't understand Grace.. they just didn't get it across very well. Still, a service on Grace is a wonderful opportunity to at least draw us back to the heart of our faith - our gracious redemption through Jesus Christ.
Who He? Ohh, you mean the name we say to 'round off' the prayers? I kid you not. A service on Grace, and Jesus name was only mentioned at the end of the one prayer at the end...
You're on tenterhooks now, waiting for the best bit, right?

As we sat in our seats, twitching, a few people came round with baskets of... go on, guess... yep.. jellybeans. We were all allowed one, and the person leading the service explained that this was an illustration of Grace. We didn't do anything to earn the sweeties, they were just a really nice gift. It hit me - Jellybean Grace - I couldn't think of a better illustration of the shallow, trite, cheap, unsatisfying version of The Faith offered by the post-modern, emergent, purpose-driven church. Grace as a nice gift in a fairly neutral setting, not Grace as phenomenal, extravagant mercy to those who are wicked God-haters. And so, the Evanjellybean was born.

That should give you some idea of the make-up of the Evanjellybeans. It's a fairly broad term, granted, but then, it's a fairly broad church.

One more thing.. my husband wasn't actually given one of the jellybeans, even though he sat right next to me and I got one. Was that actually a deep and profound reference to specific atonement?



DOGpreacher said...

A really good post. I enjoyed your writing style, and unfortunately I am too aware of the style of church. I saw your comment on 'Pyro', and thought I'd check out your Blog.

Graced in Texas!

Theophilus said...

Well written. I was linked here by Pryomaniacs, and like what I've seen.

My wife and I are in a similar circumstance... Charismatic-style church as our starting point, but increasingly-Reformed theology in the 10 years we've been married.

And, with respect to your husband... take heart. You may yet win him over...(I Pet 3:1,2)