Skinny and the Gospel

April 4, 2009 at 8:34 pm (Biblei-Octopi) (, , )

I walked into Starbucks the other day, to purchase a hot caffeinated beverage for my wife. Apparently I had quite the look of consternation as the attendant, correction-barista, commented that I looked as though I were concentrating and trying to remember something. We laughed and I made the order, “Grande, nonfat-no sugar-Carmel Macchiato.”

Macchiato & Contextualization

Macchiato & Contextualization

She was very gracious and permitted me temporary access behind the veil, enlightening me with an excerpt from the top secret Starbucks glossary . She said that it may simplify things to order a, “Grande-skinny-Carmel Macchiato.” Marvelous. I expressed my deepest gratitude as this indeed does simplify my journeys into the depths of corporate evil (much sarcasm – the only thing more evil than Walmart is Starbucks, right?).

My benevolent barista was quick to qualify stating that the beverage wasn’t truly “skinny” as the final carmel topping isn’t non-fat/non-sugar. This is a surprisingly consistent qualification as near every time that I make the order there is some casual comment either to me directly or between baristas as to the true nature of “skinny”. I admire that there is a consistent clarity amongst baristas on this Starbucks truth.

As I was leaving Starbucks today, a pit stop on the way home from a meeting in which we had several discussions pertaining to matters of the church, so the two experiences were blending in my mind. My experience at Starbucks is a fitting example of what we face in communicating the gospel within our current cultural environment(s). The baristas had a firm understanding of the deeper truths of the Starbucks menu as well as an understanding of practical terminology and were joyous in enabling me to function with a better understanding that simplified my experience without sacrificing a standard of truth.

Though I am exaggerating a point, I believe the discussion touches on a real task of the church in every generation, meeting people where they are at, being diligent to present Christ and His Word in a manner that people can understand without sacrificing truth or undermining/countering His own revelation of Himself. Culture does not create the context for understanding the Bible, but the Bible must wisely be contextualized to engage the culture. This distinction is far from merely a matter of semantics, how you view and apply the Bible is foundational truth; core truth that should not be compromised.

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