A draft, and some random anger

From Growing Up Goddy on January 2, 2008.  Written in the wake of BlogDad‘s departure from the Christian faith, and in the context of gathering storms on my own horizon.

Of all my writing from this era, this is the one in the most need of revisiting (and I kind of knew it at the time, hence the title).

This gets read by a different circle of people who normally see my thoughts, although I’m going to clue a couple of them in that this is out there to read. I’m after unbiased takes and feedback, instead of “Pearson there there you’re so awesome things will get better” and crap like that.

Jeff’s soul-searching post caught me a bit off-guard, but not much. If I said that some of his chief concerns – especially when it comes to the inerrancy of Scripture – weren’t bugging the tar out of me, I’d be lying. I would dearly love to have one set of answers for the big questions about scripture, but those answers simply won’t come when you read about the conquest of Israel, or prophets of Baal being slaughtered. Honestly, they won’t even come when you read about Jesus having come not to bring peace, but a sword.

At the end of the day, though, the key thing that forms the center of the faith is the person of Jesus Christ. I believe that Christ was exactly who he said he was, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. The moment I buy into that, there is a host of other stuff that dwindles in importance, and life becomes a question of how to live knowing that this great teacher who lived two thousand years ago and revolutionized how an entire culture looked at religionis still alive and, we expect, is going to make his impact on this world made again.

It takes a whole load of those other questions and makes them very, very tiny, in my eyes. And it takes a whole ‘nother set of questions and makes them absolutely critical. Questions of the “how then shall we live?” variety.

And here is where the anger sets in.

If Jeff’s sole complaint was the intellectual angle, the frustration at the inconsistency of scripture, I’d happily bicker with him over the intellectual implications. Frankly, we’d have fun with it. I have no illusions about anybody winning or losing that argument, honestly; those questions demand faith decisions that you either agree to set your life upon or you don’t, and at the end of the day, you are the only one who can make a faith decision for your life.

But it’s not his only complaint. The mere existence of this blog – the mocking of Christian fiction, the explanation of elements of the culture for people who would are outside of it, for crying out loud, the whole statement of purpose – it all points to the fact that there is so much about American Christianity that simply doesn’t make sense. There may be things that are part of this culture that were thought of with the best of intentions (and he says, near and dear to his heart, “why should the devil have all the good tunes?“), but we have taken those good intentions and bastardized them relentlessly. To steal from Dwight Ozard, we have spiritualized commodity and we have we have commodified spirituality.

I’m going to begin to construct the argument that there is much about American Christianity that distracts from the person of Jesus Christ, rather than points to it. I began to type this out expecting to eventually move to my anger of the moment towards hypocritical Christians, but really, what’s the point? I’m as much of a hypocrite as anybody around me anyway, and because we exalt an Americanized, individual-glorifying mutation of the Christian [1] rather than Jesus Christ himself, we should not be surprised when Christians turn out hypocritical. The American church breeds hypocritical Christians. We are far more interested in people looking and acting the part of the True Believer than we are in the challenge of the life Jesus called us to.

This has gone on long enough, so I’ll shut up. The bottom line is, I have a hard time giving anybody grief about not wanting to have anything to do with Christianity when this is the example we’ve given them. Jesus Christ? Another matter entirely. I need the message of Jesus Christ. He paved the path to God, and I need to walk it.

But I honestly can’t help but believe doing so will require walking away from the church.

[1] Yes, that was way too easy. If you want, you can substitute this dig instead: an Americanized, individual-glorifying mutation of the Christian.

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