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Southern Religion

Evangelism repositioned, de-acidified, sugar- and money-coated

Gone are the halcyon days of Jerry Falwell declaring 9/11 the result of “throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked.” Evangelism, writes Sarah Posner in the Guardian, has been “rebranded:”

The re-branding was the product of evangelicalism’s survival instinct in the face of the parody-ready Falwell prototype. One of America’s leading evangelicals is now Rick Warren, whose mega-bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life (2002), begins:

“This is more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?”

The new evangelicals write books not about how God will smite you, but how God loves you and wants nothing more than your greatest personal, spiritual, and material fulfillment. The middle of the decade saw the publication of televangelist Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (2004) and TD Jakes’ Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits (2007). Joyce Meyer’s Seven Things That Steal Your Joy: Overcoming the Obstacles to Your Happiness (2004) and Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone (2005) are equally at home at Bible study and coffee klatch, in the church bookstore and at Wal-Mart.

Oh me, oh my.

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December 31, 2009 - Posted by | Religion | , , ,

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