Jay Bakker continues to travel and write (he's working on another book) while pastoring Revolution church in New York City. His latest message offers another striking testimony -- a speech (he would rather not call it a sermon) that hits at one of the most pressing divisions within evangelicalism today.
The title: "Good Theology That Makes You a Jerk Isn’t Good Theology."
Jay's point is this -- the measure of Christian "correctness" must not be based on well-formulated theology but how we manifest the character of Jesus.
It's a division between "loving" and "exacting" Christians. Those who love do not expect perfection in any form as a qualification for standing well with God or bonding with other believers. But the more exacting Christians have filters of correctness, standards of thought and behavior, that are expected. Fail to live up to these, and beware - you will be attacked and ostracized.
On a personal level, this talk is thoroughly consistent with who Jay is. Yes, Jay does get some attention for his celebrity (including his fashion sense - see a photo from December '08 Esquire and a Kenneth Cole ad here). But I believe these are shrewd opportunities to draw attention to his message. Jay works from a deep orientation of "grace" - a theological term that can be slippery but which for Jay is deeply personal. His understanding of grace comes from his life experience, springing from a conviction that brought him from a spiritual wanderer to committing to full time ministry.
So, this talk is another sample from Jay. It's a good example of Jay's casual-intense speaking style.
But I also share this with you because it's a good example of the profound divide among evangelicals about the proper approach to Christian spirituality. Two ways of approaching the church and the world creating two forms of fellowship, two forms of devotion, two forms of missional activity.