Book Review: Hipster Christianity by Brett McCracken – When “Cool” Isn’t Cool and Is Ashamed of the Gospel

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. I Timothy 4:1

Hipster Christianity, a book written by Brett McCracken, is being publicized by both secular and Christian media, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New YorkerAmerican Family News, and Christianity Today (cover story).  According to McCracken, his book Hipster Christianity  “goes deep into the questions of what it means to be cool and what it means to be Christian.” The subtitle of the book reads: When Church and Cool Collide. McCracken’s “hipster Christianity” is nothing more than emerging (merging) spirituality looked at through different colored sunglasses. Many may be fooled into thinking that “hipster Christianity” is a “cool” way to look at biblical Christianity. It’s not. And it has nothing to do with the way one dresses or which “hip” sunglasses or reading glasses he or she is wearing. It’s about spiritual deception, which often looks “good,” (especially to those who don’t know what God’s Word says) but in actuality is lethal.

For those wondering if McCracken, managing editor of Biola University’s magazine and regular writer for the emergent Relevant magazine, considers himself a “hipster,” the answer he gives in the introduction of his book is “yes.” He is not writing impartially as some may think or assume.

McCracken has found resonance with a lot of emerging leaders, one of them being Shane Claiborne, whom McCracken says is “perhaps one of the most important Christian hipsters around” (p. 99). If indeed Claiborne is one of the most important hipster’s, then consider the following as to the direction that the “hipster” spirituality is going. In Claiborne’s book, Irresistible Revolution, Claiborne states: “I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible, and if you haven’t, I think you may be in a better place than those of us who have read it so much that it has become stale” (p. 40). Claiborne, “one of the most important hipsters around” is telling his readers that the Bible hasn’t become sweeter and richer to him over the years – it has become stale. This is not the words of someone who loves and embraces God’s Word.

In Shane Claiborne’s book, Jesus for President, on page 229, Claiborne references New Age/New Spirituality panentheist Matthew Fox. Lighthouse Trails e-mailed Claiborne in 2008 and asked him about this reference. He wrote back and told us: “This was a typo — it should be ‘Tom Fox.'” But putting Matthew Fox instead of Tom Fox isn’t a typo – it’s a slip.  Either way, one of Claiborne’s admirers, Leonard Sweet, who tells Claiborne’s readers “read this book to hear the irresistible voice of Jesus on every page,” also references the Episcopalian priest Fox telling Sweet’s own readers that Matthew Fox is one of his “personal role models” and “heroes.” (Quantum Spirituality, front matter)

Shane Claiborne isn’t the only “important” figure to “hipster” emerging Christians. Brett McCracken tells readers in Hipster Christianitythat these “hip” Christians identify also with panentheistic/mystic/Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (p. 98). This is significant in uncovering the truth about “Hipster Christianity.” First of all, consider the following statements by Chardin – understand these, and you will understand the great deception taking place in the name of Christianity today.

What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheist aspect of Christianity. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 56

Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied. Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 128

I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution. Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 95 (these quotes taken from A “Wonderful” Deception, research book by Warren B. Smith)

Bring to the scene again, Leonard Sweet. Sweet has on more than one occasion revealed his admiration for Chardin, calling him “twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice” in Sweet’s book, Quantum Spirituality ( p. 106). And in Sweet’s 1994 book, Aqua Church, he quotes Chardin saying, “Christ is in the church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way” (p. 39).

What is behind this “more magnificent way” of seeing things?  This is the emerging/hipster/evolutionary spirituality that rejects the Bible as the stable, consistent, and trustworthy inspired Word of God and rather clings to the idea that God or Divinity indwells (and is equal to) all things. Hipsters and emergents are attracted to those who reject God’s Word, hoping to envelope Christianity with a spiritual evolution that says we are evolving beyond the limitations of what is written in the Bible.  These merging interspiritual panentheists are ashamed of the Gospel; but they try to veil that shame in social justice and environmental causes all the while shunning the whole counsel of God. An example of this is on Leonard Sweet’s Jesus Manifesto book  where he says that  “Christians have made the gospel about so many things” other than Christ, such as “doctrines” and “ideas,”  states Sweet’s website. This is a common way among merging authors to reject the authority of Scripture and even making Christians feel guilty and ashamed for holding to “doctrine” as if it is some plague rather than the framework of our faith. But Scripture says that this “doctrine” (the message of the Gospel) is the power of God to salvation, and we should not be ashamed of it:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Romans 1:16

Other figures McCracken includes in his emerging, hipster “Christianity” are contemplative proponents Mark DriscollDonald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), Lauren Winner, and Rob Bell. Add to this Jay Baaker. McCracken says “Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic…. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina…” (p. 98).

McCracken asks the question, where can you find “Christian hipsters” and answers it accurately by saying Christian colleges and Christian college towns (p. 106), now hotbeds for apostasy. Of course, he includes the contemplative promoting Biola University in his list of “cool” colleges. McCracken delves into the political arena and explains how “cool” young Christians helped to bring Obama into office (pp. 158-160). Parents who have kids attending Christian colleges should hop in their cars today, head down to those colleges, and find out just what your kids are being introduced to. On McCracken’s website,  it states:

A huge number of Christian hipsters are college students or newly graduated wayfarers. Birthed in vast quantity on the campuses of Christian colleges, these sorts of Christian hipsters embody that newbie, activist spirit of “just now discovering that I can be Christian and care about the poor” [this is the apostate church’s way of saying that Christians never cared about the poor until Purpose Driven/emerging/hipster “Christianity” came along  – a lie to be sure]. … With one foot in their old [meaning out dated] Baptist youth group and the other on the unsteady terrain of viewing missions through the lens of post-colonialism [a favorite term used by emerging leaders to indicate that fundamentalist Bible believing Christians are archaic], these kids are horizon-broadened, foundation-shaken [true – shaking the foundation of their biblical faith] and mind-blown on a daily basis, as they encounter such things as genocide, non-western plumbing, or Camus for the first time in their lives. All the while they are learning to live lives of unconventionality–dabbling in post-legalism rebellion and vice (cheap alcohol and tobacco mostly) while figuring out how to sustain a more authentic and substantial Christianity than the feeble religion [yes, McCracken is talking about the way you raised your children] of their upbringing.

While popular emerging church leaders have tried to say that the emerging church is dead (see: Some Say the Emerging Church is Dead – the Truth Behind the Story) (and now hipster is better), nothing has changed. It’s the same  panentheistic merging deception that Satan presented to Eve in the Garden when he asked her to question God and tempted her in desire to be God.

The Bible says that in the days before Christ returns, there will be great deception. The devil is running like mad, to and fro, trying to confuse, deceive, and manipulate Christians into turning away from the one and only true Gospel message. After all, if Christians preach the true Gospel, people will get saved and spend eternity with the Lord. Hipster Christianity is just the enemy’s latest effort to stop the Gospel from being proclaimed.

Don’t be fooled, Hipster Christianity isn’t “cool” at all – it is lukewarm spirituality – this is one time when “cool” is not cool and is ashamed of the Gospel.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:27-29

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