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Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity

Sep 13 2012
Do we Christians even understand what the buzzword means?

I was standing in the kitchen, talking to my husband, when he began to yawn. As most wives would, I teased him for his insensitivity. He replied, "I'm just being authentic."

In case you haven't noticed, the "authentic" label is not just for antiquities or ethnic restaurants anymore.

One Thousand Gifts author Ann Voskamp recently posted on her blog: "I have felt it—how no one wants anything of anyone but to be honest and real and to trust enough to take off the mask."

I have felt it, too.

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.

Christianity Today's website designates "Authenticity" as one topic to classify its articles. Amazon.com sells more than 100 books under the search term "authentic Christian."

Authentic is one of those slippery, know-it-when-you-see-it buzzwords. When I queried Andy Crouch, CT editor at large and author of Culture Making, about the word's origins, he pointed me author Keith Miller. "His 1984 book The Taste of New Wine was a best-selling Christian distillation of both 1970s encounter groups and AA-style spirituality. I'm pretty sure his work was the catalyst by which authenticity became a specifically Christian aspiration."

So authenticity is transparency and admission of failure. It's the rejection of pretense and hypocrisy. It's truth-telling about all areas of life.

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.

So, I propose five principles for being an authentic Christian.

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.

In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. Forty days later, they come back with fruit and a report.

Ten of the men tell it like they see it: fortified cities, strong people, and a fear of being squashed like bugs. Two of the men tell it like God sees it: "Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it."

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