Saturday, 21 January 2012

On Fluffy Bunny and Machismo 'Christianity'.

Last week I went to church - nothing that earth-shattering there- the usual minister was preaching elsewhere and a woman ordinand/trainee led the service and gave the 'sermon'. From the moment she led the prayer I felt a little queasy. It consisted of statements such as 'your love is like soft raindrops...when we come to you it is like being wrapped in a warm blanket' etc and basically everything went downhill from there. The 'sermon' (I use the speech marks advisedly) was  a retelling of a biblical story from the point of view of a mother ~ think: 'oh, my little boy is growing up' and you'll get the idea. I sat there wishing I could be anywhere else and berating myself for not checking beforehand who would be speaking. But, then how was I to know? For this is not a diatribe against women preachers. I have heard the same kind of 'fluffy bunny'* type preaching and approach from men. The embodied gospel is absent, sentimentality reigns.

That should be the end of the rant, but it's not. In fact, it's only just begun. At least the lady in question above was not preaching about herself (I would question whether she was preaching at all but that's another point). When I got home I noticed a barrage of postings on a certain social networking website about a certain North American preacher who, apparently, has challenged people to hit him on stage to prove how masculine Christianity ought to be and other such cringeworthy statements and antics.

The problem is Jesus said 'take up your cross and follow me'. He did not say take up your cross - IF you can carry it, you weakling! Or take up your cross and use it to do a few muscle crunches or even, take up your cross and you will find it all warm and soft like a baby's blankie. Just, take up your cross...follow me. The call to follow goes to the weaklings and the muscle-bound*, the young, the old, the women (women - yes, even old women, Mr celeb preacher - what's wrong with old women?), the men, the messed up, the all. And the call is to follow HIM, to be like HIM. Where did he go, what did he do? He went to the cross, he was despised, rejected, he endured shame. When we are exhorted to look unto Jesus what do we see? There is no show, no celebrity, no strutting peacock but a bloodied beaten man hanging on a cross. There is nothing machismo, nor cuddly, in this picture. Yes, he went to glory, he did it for the joy that was set before him but these came through the cross.

Four staples that are mentioned in a variety of contexts and metaphors in the Bible are water, oil, bread and wine. They are all obtained through piercing, boring, crushing or grinding of some sort - through brokenness. Once you have tasted them it is not hard to tell the difference, for example, between fizzy pop and fine wine. To state the obvious, water quenches thirst, bread feeds, oil and wine/vinegar heal wounds but only because they themselves have come into being through brokenness. Macho 'Christianity' is not broken, it's puffed up. Fluffy bunny* 'Christianity' is not broken, it's wrapped up - in marshmallows*. They are two sides of the same coin. Jesus said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies... 

May God have mercy on his church.

- update below
*Here's a fluffy bunny: 

(taken from here:

 *and here are some macho men 

 (taken from here:

*and a few marshmallows for good measure: 
 (taken from here:

And here's a beautiful setting of Psalm 51 - a psalm of brokenness.

and a link to a great book on the topic - you can read some of it on the site:

Update - In conversation with a friend the edges of this post were honed somewhat, his point was that the key thing is the expression of the fullness of humanity in Christ. Whenever only one aspect of his humanity is exaggerated error creeps in and christological problems abound. That which should be positive is distorted, that is, if gentleness is over-emphasised, or his physical strength. So, without wanting to overdo this post, I'll simply add that he is lion and lamb, a man of joy and of sorrow, weakness and strength...


  1. I want that fluffy bunny!!! Ruth xx

  2. Wasn't your Dad worried about you when you were a child as you were only interested in playing with rabbits? ;-) xx