What does it mean to break through the artificial boundaries that Christians place in front of God’s grace?
Hackers in the computer industry often come in two forms: those that build up better products and plug holes, or those that break down systems and wreck havoc.
Regardless of their intent, hackers find simple explanations and cut through whatever obstacle stands in their way from reaching their goal. Be it malicious hacking through an internet firewall or forcing a computer program to work despite its improperly-aligned code, hackers have a goal and will find whatever means to reach it.
If the goal of the church is to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and invite them into the Kingdom of God, then the goal needs some hacking to get there.
These days, there’s plenty of human-made artificial barriers to God’s grace, aren’t there? Denominations that keep women out of ministry, enter into partisan politics, and enforce rigid medieval-age atonement theories. Churches that reject hospitality for the poor, immigrants, or sexual minorities. Pastors who preach intolerance and embrace a “the ends justify the means” theology and praxis. Every person’s own story of encountering obstacles to God’s grace echoes into eternity.
Something must be done.
This blog seeks to hack Christianity.
What that means is that Christianity is a system of symbols, doctrines, and experiences that interrelate to make real the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
I have dedicated my own life to this system of ideas because I believe the story of Christ speaks most clearly to me. However, not everyone can claim the Christian story as easily. Roadblocks and preconceived notions keep them from integrating themselves into the Christian story.
The idealist in me says there must be some way to “hack” the system of symbols and make it more accessible and relevant to the digital age. By that I don’t mean a system of salvation (that’s God’s business), but the way our ideas, doctrines, and symbols interrelate can form a more accessible notion of Christianity not dictated by middle-ages atonement theories or first-century declarations of women or modern pigeon-holing of Christianity to one political party.
To that end, there are two important areas of Hacking Christianity that exemplify this mission:
- The #1 category here is bad.hacks, or attempts to change a system that cause it to end up worse off than before. These are often critiques of other Christian denominations, churches, and pastors. Yes, it isn’t good press to criticize inside-the-ballpark, but accountability is necessary. I share my office title with Fred Phelps, thus we are in dialogue as to what Christianity looks like (and ours are nigh-completely different!).
- One of my #1 interests is the echo-chamber, or the way how we create our lifestyles to remove dissonance and only include voices that reinforce our beliefs. This goes beyond only listening to Christian music, but encompasses customizing our news sources, places where we live…our entire lifestyle is completely customizable to remove dissonance! And often this retreat from dialogue is a bad thing and thus is a barrier to be hacked.
The first stage of hacking is breaking through the barriers and streamlining access to the source. It is the latter subject that we turn to next.