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Sunday, March 29, 2015

What do we do when Christians slander us like this?

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Charisma News has an article up about Rachel Held Evans joining the Episcopal church, and it pretty much hits all the buzzwords about how sad it is that someone is leaving evangelicalism (umm... being Episcopal doesn't mean you're not evangelical). Cafeteria Christianity? Check. Basing one's beliefs on how it makes us feel? Check. This is the worst crisis in recent church history? Check. God's clear commandments? Check. Beliefs motivated by fear of being called "intolerant"? Check.

Wow, I'm shocked that they couldn't find a way to work in "picking and choosing."

It's not true. It's just not true at all. The reason Evans, and me, and tons of other Christians have changed their beliefs has nothing to do with wanting to fit in and not obey God. It's just not true at all.

But I'm tired of having to say it's not true.

Should I just give up?

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We could say, hey, this is Charisma News. They're so far to the extreme conservative end. (I really appreciate this blog post: 5 Reasons Why Reading Charisma News Might Be Toxic For Your Faith.) Don't worry about them. Most evangelical Christians won't treat us like that.

But this isn't just an isolated thing. Judging other Christians and declaring who is and who is not a "real Christian" is a super-important part of being evangelical. This article from Charisma just says it in a much more blunt and impolite way.

In my experience in American evangelical Christian culture, it was common to hear people make statements about someone who is not a "real Christian." Maybe they wouldn't say it so directly- they would say "falling away" or "led astray" or some other kind of Christianese. I don't know if everyone at church bought into that or not, but here's the thing: I never saw anyone stand up and say, no that's not true, and how dare you bear false witness against another Christian.

This is what I was taught. This is what I did. We called it "defending the faith" and it was all about judging people. Even though I had never heard of Charisma News back then, even though this article is way more direct in its lies than most evangelicals would be, this is not some kind of meaningless fringe belief. This is the core of American evangelical Christianity.

So... just... what are we supposed to do with this? How can evangelicalism insist on being this way? Evans has been carefully presenting her way of thinking for years, proving step-by-step that she is not a "cafeteria Christian" and all those other slanderous things from the article. And tons of other Christians have done the same.

It's past the point where they can use ignorance as an excuse, isn't it? It's far, far past the point where we can cut evangelicalism some slack because we understand how hard it is to accept such a revolutionary new idea- that loving Jesus is not the same thing as agreeing with every opinion on a checklist.

I mean, I want to say I get it, I've been there. That's what I was taught, and it took a long time to realize it was bullshit. I know it's hard to come out of that. But the leaders of evangelicalism, and the writers of Charisma News (and WORLD magazine), have now had more than enough time.

They don't want us. That's the only explanation. No matter what I say or do, no matter what kind of case I make or what the actual truth is on whether or not I love Jesus and would lay down my life for him, they already know I'm not a real Christian, and that's that.

I still believe in the body of Christ. I want so much to go to church. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you," am I right? So I haven't said that. But the leaders of evangelical Christianity have.

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On a more positive note, I love this bit of the interview that Evans gave:
Q: Many evangelicals criticize the liberal theology of the Episcopal Church, even claiming that it is now outside of orthodox Christianity. What say you?

A: Every Sunday morning, I stand in my Episcopal church and join in a chorus of voices publicly affirming the Apostle’s Creed. Together, we declare that there is a good and almighty God who is the creative force behind all things seen and unseen; that this God is One, yet exists as three persons; that God loved the world enough to become flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, taught, fed, healed and suffered among us as both fully God and fully human; that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born to Mary; that he was crucified on a Roman cross and buried in the ground; that after three days dead, Jesus came back to life; that he ascended into heaven and reigns with God; that he will return to bring justice and restoration to our broken world; that God continues to work through the Holy Spirit, the church and God’s people; that forgiveness is possible, resurrection is possible and eternal life is possible.

If that’s not Christian orthodoxy, I don’t know what is.

Yes! She's like [slight paraphrase] "I have no idea what this question is talking about, we believe in Jesus and all that jazz, why would anyone say this isn't Christian orthodoxy?"

Nice.

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