Sunday

Statement of Faith

Because it bears repeating, and because this is an incredibly important piece of who I am and want to keep this in a safe place where I can refer to it, here is my explanation (as posted on the great Facebook debates of 2009) as to why I no longer call myself a "Christian":

I believe God is love. I love God. I believe that the greatest motivation in ALL we do should be this LOVE.

I believe in Jesus Christ and the fact that He is the Son of God and gave the ultimate sacrifice of His life to redeem mine and that He is alive today to walk with me on this journey of life.

God is worthy of all my love, affection, and worship. God (LOVE) is the ONLY thing worth dying for. And this is based on years of research and study, life experience, and observation of humanity.

God's spirit breathes life into me everyday and makes all things new.

As a human I fail frequently. I don't have anything figured out and I'm okay with that. God is my guide and my love and my life.

But no, I've seen Christianity, and it looks like division and derision, and I'm just not interested. Things are never as simple as we wish they were.

Black & White ultimately fade to Gray.

3 comments:

Jeremy said...

THIS IS PART 1 OF TWO DUE TO WORD LIMITS:

As the reasons both professional and personal continue to mount for finally joining this thing they call Facebook, I'll leave my response here hoping it doesn't unnecessarily duplicate what's already been said.

Or perhaps the risk is less severe than I fear because as heart felt as this post is, I've heard it before so it's likely my response has been stated as well.

Any thinking, caring person who also happens to be a person of faith enters what they consider to be a post-Christian era where they take their enlightened selves away from what they consider to be a divisive religion and try to get to a place where they can have God, who they are fine with, rather than Christians, who they are not.

This line of thinking has many fathers, but it is generally the product of some experience where a Christian, or a reasonable fascimile, behaved badly, hurt those around them and didn't show the proper level of repentance. It doesn't have to be a traumatic event; the behavior can be a chronic condition, but as long as it occurs in the name of Christianity it besmirches the very idea of the faith and leaves a wave of such defections behind.

Who was right or wrong in a given set of circumstances hardly matters. In most cases, it is the person making a public withdrawal from Christianity that was in the right, which makes their withdrawal that much more tragic both for their personal faith, which will have a hard time existing for any length of time without the church, and for Christianity corporate.

Christianity is not an abstract thing, as much as historians may argue otherwise. It is a conglomeration of people doing their best to follow a God who changed their lives from a myriad of circumstances and in most cases set their lives if not on a better path than at least one with a deeper more meaningful perspective.

Because it is a conglomeration of people, it must necessarily have its faults and because it is a conglomeration of people it must also of necessity experience, from time to time, dynamic change driven both from within and without.

The first point hardly needs belaboring. It is a cliche because it is a true that a perfect church would not have me as a member, so we accept that we all have faults even if we have found someone's, or a group of someone's, faults so disgusting or disruptive as to necessitate our leaving Christianity.

Jeremy said...

AND THIS IS PART 2 OF TWO, ASSUMING THE OWNER OF THIS BLOG DEIGNS TO PUBLISH IT:

But the second point is worth dwelling on because it is this dynamic change that has kept Christianity going for more than 2,000 years while other organized religions have fallen by the wayside and that is threatened when those who feel disgusted by Christianity just up and leave rather than trying to affect change from within.

It is the nature of humans to want institutional comfort and control. It doesn't take long for pastors who start out wanting to sacrificially serve God to become pillars of the community with all its associated pampering. The drive to protect that institutionalization is strong and often leads to bad behavior.

We seek knowledge of God not for its own sake but because, and one dare not speak this out loud in church for fear of being labeled a heretic, we want to control Him.

Try to deny it, but all knowledge is about control. We take our cars to mechanics because their knowledge of what's under the hood allows them to manipulate the machine toward certain ends. We take our sick bodies to doctors because their knowledge of our bodies can allow manipulation toward a fascimile of healing.

And we take our sick souls to our pastors because we hope their advanced knowledge of the things of God will help us manipulate Godly power toward our own ends.

Isn't this what the problem of evil really is? We're not asking why evil exists, because such a question is unanswerable. What we're really asking is if God is who He says He is why isn't He acting in a way that we deem appropriate and eradicating the unquestionable evil of the world? If only we knew, perhaps we could make this happen.

I don't claim to know the mind of God, but I suspect that He denies us that full knowledge because He alone is in control.

So what does this have to do with dynamic change? Simply this. Because knowledge of God is constantly evolving and growing, then the consequences of that knowledge are constantly changing as well. As in the deserts of Egypt, yesterday's manna is not for today and yesterday's solutions will not work for tomorrow.

Answers and knowledge get revealed in dribs and drabs to a few people, while others remain ignorant. Why it is thus I don't know, but the consequences are obvious. When someone has a truth revealed to them and they try to share it that truth is either received or rebuffed. If it is received they become an immediate hero. If it is rebuffed the truth teller has two choices.

The first, as manifest by the attitude in this post, is that they become frustrated and check out of Christianity altogether. This is a shame because all they are doing is substracting whatever knowledge they have from the collective effort that we all make to follow God as best we can.

The second is that they stick around and perhaps are never awarded their due respect until the verdict of history is in a generation later. History, of course, tends to acknowledge only the famous and well off, but the verdict of eternity is much more comprehensive.

What I'm suggesting is if you are angry with Christianity, don't check out. Stay tuned in, stay connected and try to affect the change that you believe is important. If division is the problem, teach the tools of healing and peace. If you take those tools away, you hurt Christianity and the church and you ultimately hurt yourself. Your faith may survive for a while without the fellowship of other believers, but it won't survive forever.

Is staying a pleasant experience? Hardly, but the history of prophets is not a pleasant one.

Nean said...

I haven't gone anywhere. I'm still an active member of my church, and some of my best friends are pastors. I just choose not to label myself as "Christian" because of the connotations that label holds.

If I want to be effective anywhere in my life, I have to drop labels, because as soon as I share those labels with the world around me, assumptions are made about who I am and what I stand for that are ultimately limiting.

Labeling allows no growth. And that was the point of this post.

Thanks for sharing your opinion on the topic, Jer. Nice to see you're still alive out there. ;)