Christ-Idolatry, Moby, and Mormons

A friend of ours at church gave us a copy of the most recent Relevant Magazine, which contains an interview with Moby. Now I (along with every other person) bought Play. The incessant playing of the songs on that album made me want to own it (one of the few of which that is true). However, Moby’s understanding of Christianity has always been a bit suspect to me, not to mention his ignorant ecclesiology.

I think what the article proves is that Moby is actually a Mormon. You will look in vain for any mention of the cross of Jesus in the interview. You will, instead, find many mentions of living the life Christ wants us to, and doing what Christ told us to. He says, “My understanding in [sic] what it means to be a Christian is to, in our own subjective way, recognize Christ as being God, and recognize our shortcomings and our failings, and try and live according to the teachings of Christ as best we can.” That is the Mormon understanding of being a Christian, not the Christian understanding. Mormons and Moby worship Christ as an idol, because they do not worship Him as He wishes to be worshiped, but as they choose. Whoever attempts to follow Christ on his own initiative and without having been made a new creation is following a Christ made in his own image.

Moby’s Jesus is the typical, American-liberal Jesus: no judging other people for what they believe and do; “born-again” Christians are evil; we shouldn’t “force” anyone to believe what “we” believe.
But most shocking, and really, saddening, is this: “The thing that has always boggled my mind is when someone feels confident that they’re saved. … I don’t even think that you can be a follower of Christ and be assured of your own salvation, because it’s not our place to say that.” Why? Because “You can never be a follower of Christ and be smug and self-satisfied. You can never be a follower of Christ and think that you’re doing a great job.”

Because Moby thinks that “being saved” equals “being a good follower of Christ”, it logically follows that a person cannot be sure that he or she is saved. This is true. But what if that’s not what Christianity is primarily about? Sure, we’re supposed to obey God and follow Christ; but is that what saves us? The answer is clear, at least for Christians who hold salvation by God’s free grace in Christ at the center of everything.

The quote that closes the interview? “And if God made the universe and if God made us and if God made the world, it just makes sense to invite God into our lives and ask Him, ‘You made me-what should I be doing?'” Makes sense, but that’s not Christianity.

Finally, Moby’s is the ecclesiology of every dissatisfied “I follow Christ, but I don’t want to be called a Christian” in America.
This is the arrogance Moby and others (e.g., David Bazan) claim to dislike in the “institutional” Church. Steve Taylor’s words ring true: “They’re [Christians] hypocrites, they’re such a bore; well, come on in, there’s room for one more.” Sure, there’s arrogance and hypocrisy (in American Christianity, especially), but it is a false understanding of the Church to expect Christians to suddenly be perfectly Christ-like. I like it as little as them when other Christians say or do things that reflect badly on Christ (or me!), but what have I done to make the Church look like Christ’s Body? Probably less than I’ve done to make it look like a synagogue of Satan.
If we take Moby as a member of the Church, the question is, will he take us? The old dictum is still true: extra ecclesiam nulla salus, because it’s Christ’s Church and He’s chosen to bring people into His Kingdom through the Church. Outside of Word and Sacrament, there is no Christianity, and there are no Christians.


Book Tag II

Okay, here we go…

Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn’t like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick?

1. Funny: A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving. The last book at which I laughed out loud.

2. Regional (doesn’t every book have some sort of regional connection?): Complete Stories (“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is at the top of the list), Flannery O’Connor (the American South). She always gets to the heart of sin and salvation through the disturbing and the shocking.

3. Western Civ.: I suppose this is kind of cheating, since I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m going with Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, J. Budziszewski. I think any arguments in the Public Square for legislation or public policy have to be based on Natural Law. Here’s a good one I have finished: The Domestication of Transcendence, William Placher. Among other things, a good argument against using theodicies.

4. While others probably already have included this one, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis. Helpful for general arguments on behalf of Christianity. Otherwise, The Weight of Glory, or Miracles.

5. More literature: The End of the Affair, Graham Greene. One of the most powerful literary arguments on the power of baptism that I’ve read (the movie with Julianne Moore screwed it up).

6. Lutheranism: Here We Stand, Hermann Sasse. As clear and straightforward as it gets.

7. Sanctification: The Quest for Holiness, Adolf Koeberle. If everyone would read this book, we could be free of the Purpose-Driven Life/Church for good.

8. The Ninety-Five Theses and The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther. What ignited (set Ablaze?) the Reformation; and the book Luther considered his best work. This is a major piece of the history of Western Civilization.

9. Just another favorite of mine: Selected Stories, Andre Dubus (“A Father’s Story” is how I was introduced to him, after a review of his work in First Things, following his death.)