Authenticity: What does it really mean?

Like any current cultures, postmodern Christianity has its share of buzzwords: contextualization, incarnational, missional, and Christ follower to name a few. Frequently when I hear an overused buzzword, a scene from one of my favorite movies comes to mind.

 

Megan Hill has an excellent article on the use of the word “authenticity.” Her main point is that while authenticity is used a lot these days it isn’t well defined or well understood:

I am neither 20-something nor the least bit trendy. Still, authenticity has worked its way into my conservative evangelical life, making a regular appearance in my conversations with fellow Christians.

Chances are you know someone who’s blogging or talking about being authentic: authentic life, authentic relationships, authentic community, authentic worship. …

I believe Christians can do authenticity best. We serve a God who is always truthful. Never lies. Never deceives. Has, in fact, defeated the Father of Lies. But I fear that without biblical thought, we may accept an inferior and postmodern version of tell-all, tolerate-all authenticity.

She goes on to lay out five principles for real authenticity:

  • Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.
  • Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.
  • Authenticity seeks the good of the Body.
  • Authenticity honors wisdom.
  • Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

While I appreciate all of her five principles, the first two are particularly helpful. She explains:

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible. …

Being authentic means that God and his Word define what is real.

Last Sunday, I had an imperfect experience of corporate worship. The kids were squirmy, the sanctuary was hot, and my mind wandered. That’s the truth.

But the Scripture adds an even greater truth to my experience. God, the Creator, declares that worship is good. Therefore, by faith, I declare it good too.

Whatever we say about our experiences, our report must also reflect God’s truth.

And,

(2) Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin. …

Recently, in “The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness,” Tullian Tchividjian cautioned a generation of Christians who say, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I’m know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.’” Pride is not authentic.

Selfishness, love of men’s praise, lack of joy can all lurk, undetected, around our authentic edges.

I have a friend who wants me to be authentic. She wants to know about my arguments with my husband, the sin of my children, and what I dislike about church. For her, authenticity seems to involve not only removing my own mask but exposing the sins of others, too. This is unkind. Everything that is done in the name of authenticity must also be done in the name of a holy Christ.

I highly recommend you read the whole article.