I have such an antipathy for conservative-jesus-as-your-personal-lord-and-savior Christianity, and let's face it, Christians themselves- that it's a sin. Seriously, I hate that whole thing. I hate the smugness, the certainty, the Biblical (selective) literalism. I hate the exclusion of women (usually) and of gays (always). And it's not that I just don't understand it, trust me I do. I was raised in the Church of Christ - not the United Church of Christ mind you...the Church of Christ, which is like Baptist Plus. I can recite the party line with the best of them and I will go to any lengths to avoid being around these people. I feel like wearing a shirt everyday that says "I'm not that kind of Christian". Basically I find the whole thing profoundly creepy and uncomfortable. It's ok for me to disagree with them theologically, but I take it to the next level. If I am called to love those who persecute me (or, in my opinion, persecute the Gospel), then I'm doing a lousy job and that's not ok. I guess I'm saying I need to love the sinner but hate the bad theology. Or maybe I'm to just love the person and stop being such a theological bigot.
I am uncomfortable with a whole lot of Christianity. But the thing is, I'm Christian (note I didn't say "a" Christian...as that, to me, plays into the whole Western individualism gone amuck in the church thing ....another example of which is the "personal" lord and savior bit...you know - "personal trainer", "personal shopper", "personal assistant" and "personal lord and savior") Anyhow, in the emerging church conversation I have limited my interactions and conversation (almost) exclusively to my fellow Lutheran/Anglican tribe members and have avoided the post-evangelicals. This exhibits an enormous amount of hubris on my part, but there it is.
Here's why I'm struggling with this right now. There is an emerging women's blog that I occasionally try and participate in, they're a fine group of gals but I have no patience for comments sometimes left about how "unfortunate it is that there is swearing in the posts on a Christian blog". This nicey-nice Christian crap is why so many people want nothing to do with us. Are we really serving the gospel this way? In all fairness I'm sure my critics would say the same about the fact that I basically swear like a truck driver. Anyway, there is an emerging women's gathering in Portland that I'm considering attending. This is a huge step for me - to be willing to step outside my tribe a bit. So I poked around on the web looking for information about the event. I found a list of the organizers and looked at the home page from one of their churches. It looked amazing with lots of street kids and crazy dreadlocked pastors, but on their "about us" page the first thing was that "we believe the Bible is inerrant and totally true", which made me want to never stop slapping them. I couldn't simply think "huh, interesting" and leave it at that...no, it became personal. The thing is, I've met this woman and she's absolutely lovely...we just have differing views on scripture. I feel like maybe I'm ready to start getting over this enormous bias of mine, - which does nothing to improve the theology of my subjects, but simply unsettles me and feels like crap. Maybe it's time to put my theological money where my mouth is and BE a reconciling person in the world, not one who sets up more division between myself and others. You know, I travel all the time and attend events and meeting, consultations and planning teams with people who are my theological fellows. Perhaps I might gain something from being around people who also are Christian but who might have more traditional views than I. Perhaps God can actually be at work with and among decision-theology types. I suppose on some level my reaction against the evangelicals is a defense measure. Who I am was not ok to the conservative Christians in the church I was raised in and in order to avoid that awful feeling I reject them before they can reject me. OK, I get it. Once again God is speaking to me. The message is almost always the same: Get Over Yourself. But it's really hard.
A Prayer is needed:
Your followers make me crazy. I'm totally a jerk about this and I'm sorry. It'd be great if maybe you could try and improve some of the theology on the ground here, and if that's not going to happen then help me to not be so arrogant. Be with those whom I find most irritating and show me how to love them. This is pretty much only going to happen by your grace, which in the past has done for me what I could never do for myself, so I'm trusting you again. Your will, not mine be done (we can all be thankful for that)
In Jesus' name,