One of my favorite songs as a kid was American Pie (The Day The Music Died) about the death of Buddy Holly.
It’s one of those tunes you just never get out of your head.
In the opening lines he talks about hearing the news that Buddy Holly had died and says:
“I can’t remember if I cried,
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside,
The day the music died.”
We often are not able to see or identify pivotal moments in history until long after they have passed. There are times however, when we’re able to realize just how significant a certain moment is.
Especially when someone– or something– dies.
Yesterday was one of those moments in American Evangelicalism.
When World Vision announced that they were now allowing married, gay Christians to work in their US offices, the internet blew up on all sides. It seems that all the gay wedding cakes that have been discussed were like tinder being collected dried out, and left far too close to a heater. World Vision’s attempt at unity within the body of Christ most obviously backfired, and became the final spark to ignite an evangelical explosion.
Last night I reflected on the situation in deep sadness. I’ve always considered myself an evangelical, and for the most part I still do depending who’s defining the term. However, I sensed in my spirit that yesterday was a profound day in our history, and it came with sadness for me.
The question I posed on twitter became: “did we just witness the death of evangelicalism?”
In some ways, the answer to that is yes. Yesterday, I believe, was a major turning point in the Evangelical Reformation that has been underway and that we at least experienced the death of Evangelical Christianity in America as it once was.
Although it may not have always felt this way, Evangelical Christianity was a relatively large bubble that had room for a range of perspectives. Fundamentalist Evangelicals, Mainstream Evangelicals, and Progressive/Emergent Evangelicals were able to all be in the same space- though there was usually friction in areas of overlap, for a time it was big enough for everyone.
Basically, American Evangelicalism looked something like this:
Yesterday however, we saw a merger between mainstream evangelicals and fundamentalist evangelicals. Together, they were able to merger to the point that it fractured the circle, sending the rest of us outside of what used to be a diverse evangelical tribe.
Now, it’s important to understand that “evangelical” or “evangelicalism” can refer to different things. One is simply a reference to culture and tribe while the other is a theological viewpoint. For example, the most basic requirements of being an “evangelical” using the requirements of the Evangelical Theology Society is simply an affirmation of the trinity, and an affirmation of the inspiration of scripture and that the original autographs were inerrant (whatever that ends up meaning).
I’ll always be a theological “evangelical”, that’s not going anywhere. What we saw the death of yesterday obviously wasn’t the theological category of “evangelical” but the culture of “evangelicalism”– it was a death of the tribe as we knew it. The fundamentalist and the formerly “main stream” evangelicals drew hard lines in the sand, merged together, and made it clear that they are not interested in big tents or leaving room for the “other”.
Basically, if evangelicalism had a Court of the Gentiles, the other two groups just set up a bunch of tables and told us to go wait outside.
I’m actually shocked at the hard lines that were drawn. There has always been room for disagreement on the issue of same sex marriage, but the lines that were drawn yesterday went further than I had imagined. Perhaps I was naive.
Yesterday shows that the former main stream evangelicals are now going to double down on this issue or anything that even hints of it. Be clear: this actually wasn’t a debate on same sex marriage. This was a debate on whether or not a Christian organization can hire gay Christians from denominations who have a different theological perspective on the issue.
World Vision and those of us who lean my way said “yes– we want everyone working to help the poor and needy and we want to acknowledge diversity in the body.” The others responded with a “Hell no. We’ll pull the support of the children we sponsor before we ever tolerate gay people working here.”
I was actually taken back by the amount of bile being spewed over this issue around the internet. It was far more than I had anticipated, and caused me to re-think my defense of World Vision throughout the day.
In the end, not only am I unapologetic for defending World Vision; I’m as defiant about it as Tony Jones standing up to the Friendly Atheist. Defending them and speaking up for these children was and is the right thing to do.
However, the day left me sad. Where I sensed a death was when I realized how the lines that had been drawn were so unnecessary. We always knew that the sides against same sex marriage and the sides for same sex marriage would never see eye-to-eye (fine, there’s room for both of us), but what we saw yesterday went one step further: it was declared that Evangelicals are not allowed to take a neutral position on the issue.
That’s the key. No more neutrality allowed. It was declared that hiring a married homosexual shall now be considered as equally egregious to officiating the wedding yourself.
That line didn’t need to be drawn and puts those seeking to be peacemakers on the outside of the margin– no longer evangelicals in good standing.
As a result, Evangelicalism as we knew it, died. Instead of affirming the trinity and the inspiration of scripture in order to be called an evangelical and leaving all other theological debates open for charitable disagreement, the New Evangelicals have now added neutrality on same sex marriage something that must be disavowed before signing on. When leaders wished World Vision “farewell” and declared this “apostasy“, they made the lines dark and clear: you can’t be an evangelical if you don’t agree with them.
It was a requirement that didn’t need to be added and has at best, created a “New Evangelicalism” with very little room for diversity, let alone outsiders.
It’s clear they’ll now go in their own direction– without us. Not by our choice, but by theirs. Not because we left, but because they left.
As Rachel Held Evans tweeted:
And, she’s right. With these lines, there’s simply no more battle to fight but instead, something new we must get busy building.
Something that is now clearly outside of what used to be called Evangelicalism.
I agree with your point of view, your article has given me a lot of help and benefited me a lot. Thanks. Hope you continue to write such excellent articles.
Ben, I don’t think there is any “death,” here. There is, perhaps, a realization that one’s beloved aunt is actually now a zombie. Looks like her; maybe even sews and knits like her. But trust me – if she realizes I’m not exactly like her, she will eat me alive, and enjoy doing it. But this is not a new thing; it’s been happening for decades. It’s just that the zombies are now out in the sunlight, and people are being eaten in public, not off in the dark woods like before.
It really did all come down to money. Sadly, it often does.
Here’s an interesting experiment, that I have done many times: whenever someone trots out one of the 3 specific verses against homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27), respond with one of the many Bible verses against usury (charging of interest on money), such as Exodus 22:25. Deut. 15:7-11, 23:19, Ezekiel 18:8, 18:13, 18:17, 22:12, Lev. 25:36-37, Prov. 22:7, 28:8; Jer. 15:10, Ps. 15:5, Matt. 25:27, Luke 19:23.
You will hear the darnedest things, beginning with, “Well, times have changed” to “usury meant excessive interest” (ever hear of 23.8 on credit cards?) to “Those were charitable loans, not business!” to “well, you can be a smart ass, but homosexuality is a sin.” Because when it’s a matter of money, i.e., profit, what the Bible says doesn’t matter. But when it’s sex… oh, well, then it’s 100% got to be followed to the strictest letter because homosexuality is a sin, you know, and God hates sin.
Except when it doesn’t. How many of these fundagelical churches forbid divorce and remarriage?
Not very many.
I know. Basically, it seems to be the Bible is inerrant and infallible, except when it interferes with what I need or want right now – like more money or a new spouse.
Thanks again. This is exactly how I feel. It was this horror feeling that I’m never going back to the evangelical church, and it hurts.
I’m actually shocked at the hard lines that were drawn. There has always been room for disagreement on the issue of same sex marriage, but the lines that were drawn yesterday went further than I had imagined. Perhaps I was naive.
First of all, let me acknowledge the pain of progressive Evangelicals because of this. But let me also say that it has been unbelievably obvious for sometime that progressive Evangelicals and more conservative Evangelicals have had radically different versions of the gospel. Hopefully, this incident has made that point crystal clear. We don’t believe even close to the same things and should never have been grouped together in any organizations in the first place. For theological conservatives, Progressive Evangelicals have long been like that annoying girl who obsessively wants to be BFFs with you, even after it has long been clear that you don’t have anything in common, you actually get on each other’s nerves, and it’s best you go your separate ways. However, even that was somewhat understandable. I do want recognize how painful it can be to realize how out of the the mainstream you are, particularly within a group you have strongly identified with, and perhaps have been raised in. Hopefully now you can move on, join the mainline or start your own churches.
I’ll forgive some of the jibes about not caring about children etc. etc. They’re grossly unfair, of course, but you’re grieving, so it’s at least somewhat understandable.
After reading this it is not surprising that Rachel Held Evans is the person you press to make your case. But yes, you were naïve, and I would say this to you: It is all too easy, like Evans, to be “Christian,” but not Judeo-Christian. I’m a messianic Jewish pastor, and the only thing here that is surprising to me is how many people feel like defending marriage is somehow a bad thing, and that yesterday was a bad day for the church. To those of us who take the Old Testament just as seriously as the New Testament, this was a no brainer from the start.
Here is my own blog post, written before the reversal: http://www.beatgoliath.com
For what it’s worth, at the end of the day I think the mainstream will resent being called heartless, as this is a painful issue on both sides of the fence. But make no mistake, there is no middle ground on this one. The gay activists know this, why should that surprise anyone in the church?
It was a pretty disgusting display over the last few days. There hasn’t been a day like today where I’ve been more glad I made a decision to walk away years ago. I once hoped that someday I could return to Christianity, but this makes me realize how far apart we are.
Not mad, just very disappointed.
Not all Christians, let alone all denominations, are the same 🙂 NO one can be in or return to ‘Christianity’ because there’s no such thing. Anyway, I’m not sure God is that interested in religion, really.
Took World Vision less than two days to cave in. Didn’t even wait a month to see how much the donations fell. How many of those threatening to pull their money actually donated in the first place. It’s dead all right. Don’t bother to hold a wake.
I was unfamiliar with this issue, as I live in Australia, but it was brought to my attention when a blogger I follow(ed) posted the following “Dear Formerly Sponsored World Vision Child” letter, which may be of interest. When I first read it, I honestly thought it was satirical. Now, I am just sickened by this person’s willingness to stop promoting justice and feeding the hungry in order to protest the call from World Vision to consider homosexual people for employment. Write a letter to World Vision outlining your objections if you disagree with the move, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the child sponsored. Here’s the letter: http://tylerhuckabee.com/2014/03/25/dear-formerly-sponsored-world-vision-child-sorry-but-look-at-it-from-my-perspective/#more-1127
Thanks for your insight, Benjamin.
I know my last ties to evangelicalism were severed during this whole world vision debacle. Never going back. Their Jesus is not mine.
I found this blog post at about the same time I saw Sojourners’ article that World Vision has reversed it’s decision and asked its supporters to forgive their mistake. This action illustrates how, regardless of what we tell ourselves, it is economics more than anything else that influences our decisions. World Vision stood to lose lots of financial support because of their attempt to be more open and welcoming. Perhaps they will frame is as the need to continue to support the needy around the world, but can anyone doubt that the fear of losing cash flow as denominations and individuals threatened to cut off support obliterated whatever moral stand they had decided upon last week?
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with their decision, the fact that they allowed financial prospects to color their decision says it all. It tells us about how ready we truly are to stand for justice. World Vision is in good company, though. Our founding fathers could not bring themselves to forsake slavery because slavery was literally the economic powerhouse that sustained the colonies and the new nation. Standing to lose so much money meant that justice would have to wait.
“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.”
don’t blow taps for evangelicalism yet. In the course of my 63 yrs I’ve heard these same words spoken before. Just wait & see how all this flushes out.
as hard as it may be to imagine, this hot button issue will finally subside, with some sort of general paradigm toward it accepted.
the fading to black of this issue will happen when something else comes along that will take ascendancy – polygamous marriages, or it’s okay to live together without getting married, or euthanasia, or who knows what?!
middle class christianity has a short attention span, along with a smorgasbord attitude about right & wrong. this will fade in importance, like it or not, & will be supplanted w/ something new they can be shocked about, or devoted to changing attitudes about.
In light of the recent reversal, I would encourage you to post alternative organizations for those who want to further the true message of Christ, but have not yet committed. Those of us who have already committed I expect will continue the support, since we do not put ideology over people. But for those who haven’t there has to be a better option,
This is amazing because this large experience of being cut away is EXACTLY the same experience we had leaving our small, abusive church. We tried. We talked. We shared. We left when it became clear that they had no interest in conversation. They were happy exactly as they were and we were welcome to leave. It’s sad to say, but I hope that this begins to happen on a larger scale. They are not listening. They have shut the door.
17 If he refuses to listen to them [someone who has sinned], tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector [not part of the assembly]. (Matthew 18:17)
Another “Fundamentalist Evangelical,” Jesus.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” ( 1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Apparently that was from “Fundamentalist Evangelical” Saint Paul.
I wonder why we only apply the sexually immoral part and don’t apply the part about disassociating with greedy Christians? Or idolaters even– that would mean disassociating from Christian gun fanatics. I guess it’s just easier to disassociate from our gay brothers and sisters.
Mr. Corey: I actually agree with you on this in a number of ways, and I would support your call for such. I think the general bent of this scripture is not anyone who fails (we all do), but those that continue in sin without repentance, and/or take the next step of saying sin is actually not sin. In many speeches I give to what you would likely label (mostly correctly) as “right wing” types, I call them out on stuff like this frequently. I’ve gotten much of my greatest criticism because I come out very strongly against “American exceptionalism” which I consider to be GROSS idolatry, and and a MAJOR problem among SOME portions of evangelical Christianity. I wouldn’t paint with too broad of a brush, however. Your points are well taken, and I agree with you largely. Just know that there are others who agree with you who you would probably consider “Fundamentalists.” Like I said below, I think we need to be careful about accepting media-hype as our narratives about our fellow Christians.
I’m also disgusted by the amalgamation of corporatism and the church. I just wrote a long piece on this the other day (on Facebook, but it will probably end up being a column as well). This is both greed AND idolatry. So again, I completely agree with you.
I ALSO believe that there is some homophobia in the church. I helped found a Christian fraternity at my university, and whenever people used words like “fag” or “gay” as epithets, I came down hard on them. I think many men in the church have lost touch with what true, Christ-inspired masculinity is, and in some respects, they have gone super macho in response, which is a huge distortion of godly masculinity. So again, agree with you on this as well. Homosexuality (which I define as ACTS, not orientation) is sin, but it is not THE sin. Sin is sin, and all should be held to the standard of scripture. So again, in case I have not made the point clear enough, I actually AGREE with you in the spirit of this comment. 🙂
What the heck is “Christ-inspired masculinity”?
A fairly fundy pentecostal friend of mine, who has always been gracious and tried to live with integrity / go against the flow of his stream if his conscience dictated it etc came to a similar conclusion. he was responsible for hiring at his company, and a very openly gay candidate presented. He decided being gay was no reason not to hire, because homosexuality is just one ‘sin’ in a longer list (there are several in Paul) and he didn’t discriminate against any of the others. To us progressives this may sound utterly bizarre, but for him it was a prayerful struggle and a big deal. Sharing it with his tribe wasn’t easy. I think these good folks who just read the bible differently but are trying to prioritise love and grace need as much support as we can give them. It’s important to be affirming, and meet people where they are, and not where we think they ought to be. Peace.
As a bisexual man, I’ve known for quite some time that mainstream evangelical christianity didn’t approve of me. They have never said it quite so bluntly before, though. Through their actions, they’re saying that I’m so awful, so fundamentally flawed, that I’m incapable of doing any good.
I should feel angry, I guess, but all I really feel is hurt. Not for myself (I’m happy with who I am, and I know God has a ridiculous amount of love for me), but for all the other LGBT folks out there who received the same message. That they’re broken. That they’re reviled. That they’re unworthy of serving in God’s kingdom.
On the upside, all those terrible messages sent to our LGBT siblings, are nothing but a tissue of lies. It is my hope that we can ensure that everyone sees that.
Logan: I don’t want to debate this. We are on different sides of the theological spectrum here. BUT, I do want you to know that, to the extent I can, apologize for the times when others have made you feel unworthy or completely worthless because of your own sin. I have my own gross sin, and I must take it to the cross daily. I just want you to know that there are many, MANY people who are theologically where I am who feel the same. I think we Christians need to do a better job at dealing with each in person, not just working based on the hyped-up stuff in the media. The media has an interest in drama and conflict. I love you brother, I am NOT disgusted by you. We do disagree on this, and I’m not here to debate that, I just want you to know that so many feel the same way I do about it.
Josh, what’s wrong with your statement is calling sin what God has shaped in Logan’s identity.
Even if you consider your own inborn heterosexuality sin—which I doubt
that you do—we each should deal with our own issues before trying to
condemn others for their issues.
John, I’m not here to debate you or anyone else anymore. We all have SIN in our identity sir, so we cannot say that just because something is natural to us, it is okay. But my sincere love and affection to you and Logan. I agree with the spirit of what you just said. My heterosexuality is not a sin, neither is Logan’s bisexuality. What we decide to do with it, however, COULD be sin. But that is all I have to say. All my best to both of you, sincerely.
Thanks Josh, I do feel that your heart’s in the right place, but by saying it’s a sin, you are, in essence, saying that this very core part of who I am is bad. That I would be better off without this part of me, which, over the years, I have come to love and accept.
I honestly don’t know what the solution is. I can’t force you to change your mind, but I also can’t sit quietly while hundreds of thousands of kids grow up hearing that they’re somehow “broken” or “flawed” because of something they can’t (and shouldn’t try to) change.
I’ve been an Evangelical my entire life, but if you asked me to really describe what that meant, or what the determining factor was, I’m not sure I could really tell you. To me, that says that if evangelicalism ever really was a thing that could die, maybe it hasn’t been that type of thing in some time. Whatever that means for the “movement” or “culture” or whatever you want to call it, God only knows.
This whole incident has made me sad as well. I hate fighting about this. I hate that there’s no easy solution as far as I can see. I hate that this is tearing apart the Evangelical tribe, even though as I said before, I’m not sure I actually know how to define what is being torn apart. I’m disappointed in the response that might see children lose support. I’m disappointed in World Vision for taking a position that I just can’t see as neutral. I’m disappointed that neutrality might not exist on this issue.
Things are changing and change can be painful. I suspect the evangelical landscape will look quite different in 10 years, as this certainly isn’t the last time this debate will play out.
This whole thing has made my heart ache. However, I am most disappointed in World Vision for making a public declaration that did not need to be made (to my knowledge, they were not under any coercion or threat) under the guise of Christian unity. What were they thinking? Did they REALLY think that the fundamentalists and mainstream evangelicals would NOT react as they did? Did they really think their decision would promote unity? Really? It seems to me that the decision was not made in the best interests of the poor and needy, but more in line with the inclusion of progressive Western Evangelicals. The fundamentalist reaction was extreme and unchristian in places, but I blame World Vision for not having the foresight to understand the consequences and implications of their decision.
I lament the absurd response, and lines being drawn by many Evangelicals. However, as a mainliner, I will say this. In 16th Century Lutherans and Mennonites went to war. Lutherans killed anabaptist mennonites with cruel irony by drowning them in rivers. Today, the Mennonite Central Committee and Lutheran World Relief (two of the most responsible and ethical global aid organizations on the planet) share a great partnership.
Evangelicalism will get over this… it is this current generation that might not. New generations will find the fights of the processors irrelevant.
That being said, our denominations are breaking apart today over the same issue. Nothing the Gospel Coalition said is new, Lutherans heard it all when the conservatives railed against our decision to allow same-sex marriage.
So can we now finally put aside this bs ‘unity of the church’ thing and call out these evil Christ-haters for exactly what they are? Idolators and oppressors. I treat people’s theological beliefs with an open hand, but there are times when you have to cleanse the temple. This is long overdue.
“I treat people’s theological beliefs with an open hand…”
Except your own, obviously.
Feels all empowering to make ignorant statements under a guest account, doesn’t it?
Well, I’m not sure that would be helpful. I think there’s enough gas on the fire right now, and adding to it would probably be counter productive. I don’t think they are Christ-haters, just misguided and making a minor issue a test of orthodoxy, whereas I wish to keep it a secondary issue where there can be sincere debate. I think we should remember Paul’s command that “as much as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone”.
Jesus stood on the side of the poor. Do you stand with Christ or against him? Here you are willing to abandon the poor that rely on you for support in order to enforce orthodoxy? That is the definition of Christ-hater in my book. Jesus said in as much as you have done it unto the least of my brethren, YOU DID IT UNTO ME. So telling Jesus that your man made version of orthodoxy is more important than him is not being a Christ-hater and idolator? Then what is? We need to keep adding gasoline until we burn the whole thing down. If you think you can find middle ground with Westboro Baptist types, and lets be clear this is EXACTLY in the same spirit, then your witness to the world will be irreparably sullied.
It’s absolutely idolatry, I’m with you there. I was just saying that I don’t know how effective calling them Christ-haters will be.
Though, I do find it ironic that you previously get upset when my tone is too harsh for you, but now you’re a little upset because it’s not harsh enough 🙂 I’m just trying to take the course that’s most effective. I put my gas on the fire yesterday and stand by it, I was just pushing back against the effectiveness of name calling.
And of course this is made worse by the cowardly and evil attempt to shift the blame for all this back on the LGBT community, a group who has already been an object of continual oppression and scape-goating for them. I would rather dump the title Christian than risk being associated with these people in any way
For clarification, Ben, I didn’t mean the last bit to you personally…
The problem with this “test of orthodoxy” is that is has caused terrible anguish to untold thousands of innocent people whose only “sin” was that they were born gay. It has driven many to suicide and has turned parents against their own children. It has shut up the gates of grace against those who, because of the rejection they have suffered, stand in most need of it. It has, I suspect, turned thousands away from the church and has held Christ and His Gospel up to public ridicule and contempt. If this be the fruits of such “orthodoxy”, then I want no part of any such “orthodoxy”. I am a 71 year-old, married, middle-class heterosexual male with five sons. And somehow, by the grace of God, I remain a (panentheistic) Christian. I applaud World Vision for its fidelity to the Gospel – for that is what it’s decision is pure and simple – fidelity to the Gospel. I would encourage all who agree with me to please consider sponsoring a World Vision child as a positive, life-giving way of affirming our belief in that Gospel in the face of self-righteous bigotry, spiritually barren legalism, and the idolatry of Biblical literalism. LATER FOOTNOTE: I wrote this post prior to WV US reversing its policy decision.
I think you are right–and I find this to be a huge struggle at the moment. I have found the reactions to this event so full of venom, hate, and ignorance, that I truly want to do as R Vogel suggests and abandon all restraint and answer back directly to each and every instance, that it is they themselves who have rejected Christ and turned to idols whose altars run with the blood and tears of the sacrifice of countless numbers of individuals loved of God and created by Him as a unique example of His infinitely simple and complex image. This, I am afraid, may be an indication my reserve of Spiritual fruit is growing low. Peace to you.
Guy, it may be helpful for you to watch on YouTube the series of wonderful sermons on The Beloved preached by Henri Nouwen at the Crystal Cathedral several years back. May you be blessed and refreshed by the words of life spoken by this truly Christian man. Others who have likewise been soul-sickened by the hateful posturings of so-called ‘Christians’ might also like to listen to these sermons to help recenter themselves in the authentic Gospel.
Thanks Raymond. I watched the first sermon on my way to work this morning and did find myself refreshed. I look forward to a chance to see the rest.
Henri Nouwen who was a gay priest by the way. Don’t let Franklin Graham in on our little secret please.
I won’t tell if you won’t tell …. 🙂
I think you’re seriously underestimating how different the beliefs of the two camps are. The vocabulary may be the same, but the meanings are actually very different. The sooner people realize this, the better for all concerned.
It may be a minor issue to you Mr Corey, but to those of us who are LGBT it is of the utmost importance. These people are scape-goating us as a way to rally the faithful and for some, to make a profit and enhance personal power. They are steeped in misogyny, patriarchy and narcissism. The damage they have done to the long term prospects for their cults with the younger generation by their muscular christianism, is breathtaking.
It’s not a minor issue to me at all, which is why I spent a week helping to drive the national dialogue on this issue.
Where is the good news of Evangelicalism?
Where are the Followers of Christ?
Where is the joy of the Gospel?
Where is the love of God?
They have passed like rain over the mountains, like wind in the meadow.
Politics is a cruel master, and it has not treated religion well.
“Mixing politics and religion is like mixing manure and ice cream. It doesn’t do much to the manure but it surely does ruin the ice cream”.
Even as an atheist, yesterday was sad. Evangelicalism, I thought, had come a long way. The gospel of love was finally getting a share of the focus, instead of the list of things evangelicals are against. I tried to talk to my mom about it, who’s still a convinced Evangelical Baptist. While she tried to be thoughtful about it, over and over she came back to, “Well, if a company you agree with spiritually started hiring murderers, would you still give them your money?” sigh…….
I read recently (from Nate Phelps, I think), that Fred Phelps was the mirror that Evangelicals hated to look into, because he = them, minus the signs. Yesterday proved that point.
For the rest of you, the emergent church, I agree with Ben that it’s time to leave the tent and start something new. We (the non-believers) have plenty of ideals in common with you that can be accomplish more easily if you’re not trying to drag the hate generation along with you. Let’s leave them in their cages, where they want to stay, and get some shit done.
So true. This was what it took for my first time being declared not really a Christian by somebody who actually knew me personally (not a stranger responding to a blog). It was in the comments for me sharing your previous post actually. I tried to reason for a while that their interpretation of Scripture is not the same thing as Scripture and it is acceptable for an organisation to acknowledge that there are other views. They disagreed. The reasoning: my interpretation is the same as the Bible itself, therefore they disagree with the Bible, therefore they disagree with God, therefore they’re heretics, therefore they can’t actually do any Gospel work. It was quite dizzying. It was my former pastor who dismissed me as not a true Christian because I don’t follow the Bible, and I also can’t call myself a Mennonite because something to do with Menno Simons comparing gay people to nuclear weapons. I’m not sure I followed that last part but didn’t try, instead simply saying “fine. I guess I’m not a Mennonite.” (I prefer the more generic Anabaptist anyway). And this is Canada, with Anabaptists, where the third way approach is usually acceptable.
It was clear the lines were drawn and I wasn’t on the right side. Oh well, if I have to pick a side between the religious institution and the outcast, I’ll pick the outcast. It grieves me and I almost broke down at the statement that I was not a real Christian, but I am not turning my back on those in need. Not the children who need sponsors and not the gay people who need jobs and being treated with basic human decency.
A few have started to come to my defense, some who support same-sex marriage and some who don’t but agree that we need to be able to create a neutral zone where we can work together on things that have nothing to do with same-sex marriage even when we disagree about same-sex marriage. Not everybody wants that to be the line, including many on the conservative side. But I am starting to believe that enough people have made that the line that we may be having to define evangelicalism in part in terms of its opposition to all things gay. Not just a general tendency toward disapproving of sanctioning same-sex marriages, but actively seeking to harm gay people even outside their own denominational sphere of influence.
You get to define who you are. Thanks for your efforts.
I imagine it’s always a bit of a shock the first time you find yourself on the wrong side of the walls of Jericho.
I generally find if I don’t get accused of atheism by at least 1 family member or former classmate per week, I am not expressing myself correctly. I consider it a badge of honor.
Ryan, my husband and I live in a small community and attend a Mennonite Brethren church in Canada. I have stated point-blank to our pastor that we wholeheartedly support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters (some are even devout Christians themselves) and their want to get married. He responded that though the Mennonite Brethren church does not support gay marriage, they realize that this is now law and have to accept it.
Many wonder why World Vision publicly declared their policy change. I give them a lot of credit, as a forward-thinking Christian and as a World Vision sponsor. Those in the LGBTQ community have hearts, minds, and should be given every opportunity to help when some our good evangelical friends do well giving orders from their dinner tables and podiums.
Oh well, if I have to pick a side between the religious institution and the outcast, I’ll pick the outcast.
I’d say that, in and of itself, is a clear sign that you’re following Jesus.
People matter more than ideological theology.
Loving them as ourselves matter most of all.
I think we’ve been in the death pangs for quite some time. With charistmatic leaders drawing lines in the sand and maintaining that choosing their side is equated with holiness and rightness in God’s eyes the schism was always being more clearly defined. It’s tragic that the Kingdom is being built more on dogmatic absolutism (not only in theological terms but personal terms of “being right”) over changing the world through genuine, Christ-centered compassion and love. The Kingdom of Christ has been, is, and always will be one of diversity and compassion that transcends our understanding and determined limitations that we place upon It.
I would rather be found guilty of opening the gates of the Kingdom to too many and wrong on theological points than being correct on every point while excluding those for whom the Kingdom has been established.