My parents are in town visiting this week. Their arrival marks the first time they’ve met their sole grandchild. As such, I’m not able to do as much ’round here (I’m not able to take any days off work so I’m doing my regular 58 hour week in addition to being with them).
Maybe you figured it out by Monday’s post imploring you not to try rocks at the emerging church, but looking at Christianity as a whole, I fall on the more progressive side (if we are judging by intellectual beliefs, that is. But that’s a question worth exploring right there – why do we judge Christianity by its doctrine, as if that is the totality of the religion?) My spiritual rebirth path journey awakening, whatever is we call it these days, left me on, well, the left.
Meaning I take more progressive views – that God is restoring this creation (not merely replacing it with a totally new earth), the Bible is not infallible, the kingdom of God is not referring to the afterlife, and some other stuff I really don’t want to distract from today’s primary purpose. These stand in stark contrast to what is taught in “Bible Believing Churches.”
Admittedly I have trouble with the more conservative side of Christianity. This is largely due to personal experience – I feel so misled by the religion of my youth that I have very little trust in it anymore. I was burned 20 too many times. In many ways I’m still dealing with the faulty programming I received in the church I grew up in, though its been 7 years so I’ve been there with anything resembling regularity.
When Anne Rice famously denounced her association with the Christian religion (but not Jesus), I totally understood why she would make such a move. Her complaints echoed through my ear drums and mirrored my own displeasure.
So when I encounter that more right-wing side of Christianity, which can be categorized by shame and guilt based faith, strict rules governing conduct, disdain for various sinful groups of people, seeing the end times in half the news stories each night, I have a difficulty associating these people as brother and sister. I feel so disconnected from them to the point where it sometimes feels like we love different Gods. Our differences seem so radical, so competing, polar opposite, that I don’t know how we fit under the same umbrella label.
Anne Rice’s disassocation brought up the question of who is a brother or sister in Christ? Is Anne still one, even though she doesn’t claim to be apart of “Christianity? (presumably preferring the ‘I’m just a follower of Jesus’ description)? What about people who hold such beliefs that Jesus has saved all people?
The one that really gets me is what about Westboro Baptist Church? (For those who don’t know, Westboro is the “God hates fags” group that protests military funerals and announces all the people God despises). I mean we are all apart of a local church, which is apart of a larger, more ambiguous church. So where are the walls? Are there some who fall outside of it? Obviously the Westboro example is about as extreme as it gets, but there are plenty of Southern Baptist Bible Belt types who I think get it so wrong that I’m not sure if they’re apart of the brotherhood.
But maybe asking the where is the wall? question isn’t even worthwhile. I’m not sure Jesus would entertain much in this conversation. If I asked him that question in the gospel times he’d likely neglect to answer it at all and instead launch into a speech about loving people no matter who they are, and walls not only keep people out but keep us gated in. That’s how he handled questions like me, which may be rather silly.
Are there people who claim to be Christian who you don’t think are apart of the church? Because there are certainly plenty of Christians. Or is the even a use in pondering such a thing?