Apprising Ministries brings to your attention an article by Brett McCracken called The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity, which appeared online yesterday at The Wall Street Journal. If you didn’t know, the title of this piece is a play off the title of McCracken’s just published book Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide. His book bio tells us that his “day job is managing editor of Biola University’s Biola Magazine” and that he’s been “contributing regularly to Relevant Magazine.”

 The above is also repeated in McCracken’s bio at his website The Search:

He currently works full-time for Biola University as managing editor for Biola magazine. In his spare time, Brett writes movie reviews and features for Christianity Today as well as contributing frequently to Relevant magazine. (Online source)

From its title alone, one can certainly make the case that Relevant magazine itself is specifically aimed at “hipster” folk. McCracken does make some good points in his WSJ article, but on the whole, to me this doesn’t ring right. For one thing, the very phenomenon he speaks of goes back to the man-centered Church Growth Movement, from which both the Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven megachurch movement, as well as the sinfully ecumenial Emerging Church aimed at so-called “spiritual” seekers, extend.

Each is considered “hip” and relevant to its adherants; but as Dr. John MacArthur has rightly pointed out, the moment you try and make your goal to be relevant to any particular part of the caprious culture around you, you’re engaging in planned obsolescence because its constantly changing. The advertisement for Hipster Christianity at McCracken’s site says it’s:

More than just a surface description of an interesting new trend in Christianity, the book goes deep into the questions of what it means to be cool and what it means to be Christian. Are these competing aims? Why is the church today so preoccupied with being cool, fashionable, trendy, and relevant? (Online source)

The answer to the latter is simple: It’s lost faith in the all-suffiency of God’s Word in the Bible. The pretending to be Protestant mainstream evangelical community in the church visible long ago kicked out Sola Scriptura in favor of pragmatic business methods to fill buildings, and has embraced corrupt Counter Reformation Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, perpetrated as supposed Spiritual Formation with his spiritual twin Dallas Willard.

And this is where my prior dealings with Brent McCracken come in, e.g. in Managing Editor For Biola Magazine Confirms Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism At Biola, which is well…the hip fad within evangelicalism right now—even with the neo-Reformed crown in what appears to be a postmodern form of Calvinism. I pointed out previously that in his post Spiritual Formation Under Attack at Biola McCracken began by whining about a so-called “smear campaign against ‘spiritual formation’ at Biola University.”

He then told us:

An organization called Lighthouse Trails teamed up with Apprising Ministries to unleash a torrent of criticism and insults about Biola, claiming that Biola is drifting from its strong biblical roots and embracing “apostate Roman Catholic mystical spiritual formation”…

they are worried about Biola possibly being apostate because in chapel we dare to introduce students to ancient methods of contemplative, meditative prayer. We dare to engage the students in Lectio Divina, an ancient method inherited from the Desert Fathers of deeply reading and meditating upon a scripture. It’s not new-agey or mystical; it’s simple, quiet, and meaningful. The bible takes center stage. What is wrong with that?

Evidently these critics of Biola are worried that by having an entire chapel service of silent meditation, there is somehow a movement of apostasy being birthed in the students’ minds. It’s wrong, they suggest, to have a scripture read without a pastor or speaker there to unpack it and give it some context.

Todd Pickett, Associate Dean of Spiritual Development at Biola, has a different opinion. He believes that students today are “over-messaged” and need more time to just contemplate what they’ve already been hearing, learning, experiencing in Christ… (Online source)

For the record, Lighthouse Trails Research is not affiliated with this online apologetics and discernment work and we did not “team up” in our coverage of this spurious spirituality at Biola. You should know that the so-called “ancient methods of contemplative, meditative prayer” that McCracken et al at Biola apparently “dare to introduce students to” is the practice of meditation in an altered state of consciousness—transcendental i.e. transforming—is the growing fad of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which is itself a form of transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terminology.

While in the comment below from the post in question McCracken says he’s been “vocally distant from” the Emergent Church “for many years,” and that “anything but shy” concerning his “affinity for Reformed theology,” he’ll not be able to find contemplative spirituality in Reformation theology; Sola Scriptura alone rules it out:


So now the following from Brett McCracken should become clearer for you:

If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real. (Online source)

But Brett McCracken would do well to pay close attention to Church Reformer Martin Luther, whose life-threatening experience with authorities in the apostate Roman Catholic Church was as “real” as it gets. Here’s what the former monk Martin Luther said about this “hipster” asceticism-lite Pietism of contemplative spirituality becoming all the rage right now among McCracken’s crowd:

Idolatry is all manner of seeming holiness and worshipping, let these counterfeit spiritualities shine outwardly as glorious and fair as they may; in a word, all manner of devotion in those that we would serve God without Christ the Mediator, his Word and command. In popedom it was held a work of the greatest sanctity for the monks to sit in their cells and meditate of God, [solitude] and of his wonderful works; to be kindled with zeal, kneeling on their knees, praying, and having their imaginary contemplations of celestial objects, with such supposed devotion, that they wept for joy. In these their conceits, they banished all desires and thoughts of women, and what else is temporal and evanescent. They seemed to meditate only of God, and of his wonderful works.

Yet all these seeming holy actions of devotion, which the wit and wisdom of man holds to be angelical sanctity, are nothing else but works of the flesh. All manner of religion, where people serve God without his Word and command, is simply idolatry, and the more holy and spiritual such a religion seems, the more hurtful and venomous it is; for it leads people away from the faith of Christ, and makes them rely and depend upon their own strength, works, and righteousness. In like manner, all kinds of orders of monks, fasts, prayers, hairy shirts, the austerities of the Capuchins, who in popedome are held to be the most holy of all, are mere works of the flesh; for the monks hold they are holy, and shall be saved, not through Christ, whom they view as a severe and angry judge, but through the rules of their order. (Tabletalk, 1626 AD)

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