Ever wondered which among a non-exhaustive list of arbitrary Protestant Christian vibes you give off? Well, now you can find out using this simple quiz.
- What does your worship pastor wear?
- It’s hard to tell. The worship team moves so much on stage. Sometimes they’re barefoot?
- Jeans, like a normal person.
- …Do you mean liturgist?
- We have a choir.
- I don’t actually remember, it’s been a while…
- What’s your most-used Christianese phrase?
- God moment
- Spiritual discipline
- Catechism (not the word “catechism”—the entire Heidelberg Catechism)
- Well, I can give you a list of the problematic ones. Do you want it alphabetized?
- What’s your favorite Bible translation?
- The Message
- ESV or NASB (and I’m ready to debate you passionately about which is more accurate)
- As everyone knows, God speaks King James English.
- I’m mostly listening to Bible podcasts right now. I can give you recommendations…
- Mostly, when I hear the Bible, it’s being used to attack me.
If you answered mostly A, you’re a Hippy-Dippy New-Wave Jesus Freak, and you’re high on Jesus, aren’t you? Dude, your beard has gone way past hipster to biblical. You are hands-up, eyes-closed in worship. And you or your pastor like using the word “radical.” I’m guessing you “got saved” at camp or a huge youth outreach concert. Some people change careers or get really into hot yoga in their early thirties; you’re having a charismatic phase. You just really want to see the Spirit move. That search for meaning isn’t wrong, but remember, God is in the many tongues of Pentecost and the still, small voice to Elijah.
Did you answer mostly B? You, my friend, are Evangelical Basic. Basic like a pumpkin spice latte. Basic like a Christian fish tattoo on your ankle. Want to deny it? Is “Oceans” in your “recently played” on Spotify? Yeah, I thought so. Don’t feel bad. John 3:16 is basic too. And totally, simply true. Just beware the lulling temptation of tepid, routine faith. A moderate, 65-degree day is pleasant. A 65-degree person is dead.
Pick mostly C? If you have read anything by N. T. Wright, and if you’ve even heard of G. K. Chesterton, you might be a Church Nerd. You probably drop the word “lament” into casual conversation and know Greek words other than agape. Whether you fall into the subgroup of amateur apologist or theological anglophile, you probably consider the writings of C. S. Lewis the Fifth Gospel. You crave substance, maybe even a little ritual. But knowledge puffs while love builds (1 Corinthians 8:1). And the supernatural may pass us by unless we can learn from Hamlet and welcome the “wondrous strange,” for “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy,” and more to faith than puzzles—namely, people.
Old Faithfuls pick mostly D. You probably know all the verses to “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” In fact, they can try to get rid of the pews and the hymnals over your dead body. The projection screens make you squint, but not as hard as you squinted at the youth pastor when he prayed from the pulpit with his shirt untucked. In your day, Christians didn’t dance or have TV. And to this day, you pray for your grandkids. We’re grateful for the blessings your faith has sown in our lives; we just don’t know it yet. Go easy on us when we put a drum set in the sanctuary; “Come Thou Fount” slaps when you speed up the tempo.
Now, Hipster Jesus People, you know who you are. You chose E. You’re not part of a “mainline denomination.” Denominations are too mainstream. Don’t even get you started on CCM. Your church partnered with a local coffee shop to cater three different roasts on Sunday mornings. Unique is good. But if arbitrary, performative difference seems the only gateway to meaningful belonging, it’s not ironic. It’s empty. And even if you are the immaculately waxed mustache of the body of Christ, as Paul would have said if he lived in 2015, “The mustache cannot say to the hand, I do not need you.”
To those who answered F, I’m so sorry, beloved ones. I repent. I’m sorry for when we made silk, or denim, or anything else our dress code when we all wear blood. I’m sorry for the factions of faith I do not address here because I cannot make light of them. I’m sorry for the merit badges we made up and called “patriotism,” or “good works,” or “purity,” or “tradition,” regardless of if those names were accurate or merely careful definitions to help style ourselves, idolatrously, as the model for holiness. We had no right to shut doors when our Father’s house has so many rooms. It’s not a clubhouse, though it is full of children. And there is no password but “I believe.” The only identifying marks we should bear are the stripes of Jesus, the only distinction that we run with perseverance without grasping to be first. Christianity is not a culture. It’s billions of stories beating on in echo of tremendous Love and you.
Emily Stroble is a writer of bits and pieces and is distractedly pursuing lots of novel ideas and nonfiction projects as inspiration strikes. As an editorial assistant at Zondervan, she helps put the pieces of children’s books and Bibles together. A lover of the ridiculous, inexplicable, and wondrous as well as stories of all kinds, Emily enjoys getting lost in museums, movies old and new, making art, the mountains of Colorado, and the unsalted oceans near Grand Rapids. Her movie reviews also appear in the Mixed Media section of The Banner and her strange little stories of the fantastic are on the Calvin alumni fiction blog Presticogitation. Her big dream is to dig her hands deep into the soil of making children’s books as an editor…and to finally finish her children’s novel.