What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Authenticity: It's Over-Rated

So for UNC InterVarsity's vision statement for the year, one of our buzzwords is "authentic." We want to be an authentic community.

Much of this in my context is a deliberate response to Southern, Bible-Belt Christianity which is perceived as showy and fake. Being in church is sort of the culturally southern thing to do, and not always linked to much of anything genuine. It's about putting up pompous fronts and towing a certain line on certain issues.

Thus, our emphasis on "authentic."

But the problem is this: authenticity is not really our goal. Our culture is all about "being yourself." We've elevated the values of non-conformity and celebrated and excused just about any behavior if it can be categorized under the banner, "I'm just being me."

In biblical terms, there is nothing valuable about this whatsoever. Authenticity is not the goal. Holiness is. Obedience is. Following Christ is.

Authenticity is a means to a much better end. Authenticity frees us to confess our sins to people around us and receive words of gracious and loving correction and help. Authenticity means that we bring who we have been to the table--warts and all--in order that we might no longer be bound to who we have been.

In Christ, we are "becoming beings." When "being authentic" serves as an excuse for self-aggrandizing rudeness and sin, it's just stupid. When authenticity points us on the path towards transformation, towards becoming who we truly are and will some day be in Christ Jesus, then it has served its purpose.

Otherwise, authenticity is just another thinly-veiled excuse for the self-absorption that so marks our age...and destroys so many lives.


J. R. Daniel Kirk said...


Blogged about this a couple months back, with a similar thrust.

The Good

Speech (part 3a)

Forgiveness and Anger (part 3b)

Sexuality (part 3c)

J. R. Daniel Kirk said...


Redemption (Part 2)

Alex said...

word, bro. i was working on this post, remembered you'd blogged about it, thought about citing you, decided it was too much work to post the link, and didn't end up doing it.

but of course like all my ideas, i owe it all to you.