Our “Authenticity” Confusion

For several years now I’ve been concerned by a trend I’ve seen among many evangelical Christians in their understanding of the word “authenticity.” In 2012 I wrote a post on this blog, “Brokenness Equals Authenticity?” in which I said:

We’re all broken, yes. But that doesn’t mean we should pat ourselves on the back about it and languish together in stagnant waters of self-satisfied imperfection. No, we must always be striving for better… moving toward righteousness, in a positive direction from broken to more whole, from screwed-up to less screwed-up, by the grace of God.

Recently I expanded upon some of these thoughts in a longer piece that published today on The Gospel Coalition’s website. In the article, titled “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” I explore whether evangelicals, by focusing on brokenness as proof of their “realness,” have turned authenticity into its own sort of badge-of-honor works righteousness. You can read the full piece here, but check out this fantastic quote from Erik Thoennes, a Bible professor at Biola who I interviewed when I was preparing to write the article:

“There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy. To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”

Beautifully stated, Dr. Thoennes. May we always strive to live in conformity not to what we feel is right but with what we believe God has called us to be, even if at times it feels unnatural. It will feel unnatural until it feels natural, as all habits of virtue do.

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