Church Growth Strategy: Be Weird

Collin Garbarino | January 9, 2017

Christians ought to be a little weird. That’s the message of a new book by Larry Hurtado, emeritus professor of New Testament at the University of Edinburgh. In Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, he describes how Christians in the first three centuries set themselves apart from the broader Greco-Roman society. Christianity, with its universal claims, must be accessible to all cultures, but it shouldn’t accommodate itself to that culture in a bid to be relevant. Being accessible and odd at the same time, Hurtado argues, helped Christianity grow.

Hurtado wants to address our “cultural amnesia” regarding the origins of Christianity. He wants us to see how Christianity was different from all the other religions of the Roman era, but he also wants us to understand that many of our modern presuppositions about religion have little to do with religion in general and everything to do with Christianity.

Way of the Weird 

Some of the ways Christianity differed from Roman society will surprise because Christian influence eventually made these things commonplace in Western culture. For example, Christianity is a bookish religion, and its emphasis on texts caused the West to assume that religions need texts…

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