Kary Oberbrunner’s The Fine Line: Re-envisioning the Gap between Christ and Culture wrestles with the line between Christianity and culture. The author explains,
The first camp separates itself from people, society, and culture in order to stay “unstained.” They turn God’s commands, plus hundreds of other rules and laws, into a heavy burden that supposedly grants personal holiness .. . These people make up the Separatist camp.
The second camp conforms itself to the ideals and philosophies of the world. … These people make up the Conformist camp.
(p. 22) Oberbrunner describes both camps as irrelevant, because —
it isn’t love that characterizes either camp, as Jesus commands, but unbalance. And the church and the world both suffer because of it.
(p. 23) Later Oberbrunner explains that the failure of the two camps is a lack of love. The Separatists love God but fail to love people as they should. The Conformists love people but fail to love God as they should.
The solution is to be a Transformist.
Transformists are people in paradox, people living in the world but not of the world. Their lives are characterized by balance and relevance. …
Transformists actually invite tension because they know that where there’s tension there’s growth. … By inviting tension, we invite Jesus.
(p. 111) Oberbrunner ends with the story of a man who has lived a remarkable life as a Transformist. It’s a great story witha powerful lesson.
It’s a good book, and the overall theme is much needed. It’s very helpful to think in terms of transformation (of self and others) in contrast to separation and conformity. However, and maybe it’s just me, I have trouble seeing how to lead a church down this path from this book. I mean, it’s not so much the answer as a very, very good seed idea. Does that make sense?
Now, I’m the first to admit that I’ve had my fill of pre-packaged this-how-you-make-your-church-grow-just-like-I-did books. This one isn’t even about church growth. It’s about a different way of looking at things.
Therefore, this would be a great book for ministers and/or elders to study together, or for a small group to study together. You see, the book doesn’t offer all the answers. Rather, it has some pretty important questions, a seed idea or two, and leaves room for prayer and reflection. And these things are done better, I think, in a group.
So rather than handing this to a committee to start issuing baseball diamonds and wall charts, or using the book to teach a class points 1 through 13, this is a book to be prayed over, meditated on, and talked about.