Saturday, March 08, 2008

Why I am no longer evangelical

Read this anecdote on House of Bishops/Deptueies this morning and I was very struck by the story:

"A priest friend of mine (now retired) many many years ago used to have a Jewish couple who regularly attended at his parish. They were "seekers" but from an older generation. They did not receive Communion, but as part of his engagement with them, in reaching out to them, he would, every Sunday, right after the liturgy, meet with them in the side chapel and say the traditional Jewish blessing over bread, and share a piece of matzoh with them. Unfortunately, an "upright soul" in the congregation stirred up a scandal over this and "reported" the priest to the bishop, who asked him to stop. Being a good obedient priest, he stopped.

Who knows what grace might have happened if this "Samaritan by the well" moment had been allowed to blossom and bear fruit? Who knows what marriage might have followed this engagement?"

This anecdote is another example of the harm that can be done by the presumption that one knows what is best in a given situation or for a specific person.

Sometimes I think we are so wedded to our own perceptions or to our own ideas of "how things should be" that we ourselves commit sin. By our actions though, we indicate our belief that our perceptions or our own ideas are the only ones that matter. We aren't able to see the pridefulness we exhibit.

I guess it was just this sort of lack of humility that made me sever ties with the evangelical community. I still hold to very conservative theology, conservative views of the content, authorship, provenance, etc of the Bible. As a flawed individual, i didn't feel as if there was room for me in the evangelical community which seemed to demand that I experience something other than what I did.

I think I also mentioned about the secrets being kept, spousal abuse. There was also secret alcoholism. I knew evangelicals that would drive 50 miles to attend an AA meeting where no one would know them in order to hide from their own evangelical community that there was a problem.

I did not want to live in secrecy and fear. I don't want any one to and certainly not my sisters and brothers in the Lord. What I know is that I am full of flaws, petty sins, issues, emotional baggage etc. What I know is that this is true for every single human being. What I know is that God has worked in my life in ways that some other Christians I have known would never endorse. What I believe with all my heart is that our precious Lord and Savior, our beloved Father and most gratefully received Holy Spirit is that God works in the lives of all His children in ways that other Christians may not endorse.

It seems to me that is not an issue that belongs to the child but an issue that belongs to the other Christian who is discomfited. I am really sick and tired of being blamed for what others cannot understand. Such as my depression problem. It was a scandal to Christians that another Christian would suffer as I did. It challenged their ideas of the abundant life we are to know in Christ. So rather than investigate if it was their conceptiosn that were flawed, it was easier to categorize, label and dismiss me.

This sort of behavior is not limited to evangelicals, of course, but that is where I experienced it. Among the so-called liberals, it has been a different story. I don't particularly enjoy being thrown into the company of those who embrace every silly idea from every Post-Modern so-called scholar. OTOH, I think there are worse ills than theological incorrectness. Such as hard-heartedness, unkindness, pride, self-righteousness.


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