In Third Way style, the way to approach Christianity would be this: accept the Gospel as a trustable message based in traceable history; but do not interpret reality based on this message except where there is no unvcertainty how to interpret reality; there are really few cases where there is no uncertainty, and among them those where God’s contemporary activity has been tracked by scientific and / or good journalistic methods, so that trustable reports are the result. Which is the focus of my Second Acts project.
For this, it is necessary to develop a interviewing and text analysis system for detecting “non-sober religious activities” like scams, self-deceit and mental illness. Even good parts of sermons belong to this non-sober interpreting of what’s happening in the world. And even good parts of Christian activism (like peace activism in the leftist scene) belongs here, because it has no chance to have a lasting, meaningful effect except by a miracle (which does not happen either). This kind of stuff is far too numerous among Christians, and has to be filtered out to get trustable reports. For example, this non-sober text shows what has to be filtered out: “Needing help in covered up murder of one of Jesus’ musician freaks–in California“. And, this kind of stuff discredits Christianity in the eyes of non-Christians.
The key is the insight that most of the “Christian culture” and “Christian lifestyle” today cannot be derived with good certainty from the Bible, and therefore is a non-sober religious interpretation of the Bible where it is claimed as biblical. It is simply not justified. Even the Christian notions of the personal “Bible time” and personal “community with God in prayer” seem to belong to this, as this cannot be found in the New Testament. (But I need to check again.)
What also has to be filtered out by these interviewing and analysis techniques is the “human component”: it is apparent that human motivation, human enthisiasm and the like makes up for a good part of what is necessary for Christian organizations to be operational. Whenever something like large meetings arises (for instance the “24-7 Euro Gathering”) it is a hint that some human motivation is at work, desiring greatness, magnificence, significance. There will be many other hints like that.