I Have No Therefore

Faith is the bird

that sings

when the dawn

is still dark.

~Rabindranath Tagore

At times I cannot imagine that I am raising children in the world today. Nor can I imagine expecting them to live in the world we are creating for them.  I can only respond with the discipline of faith, hope and love to this world full of suffering, poverty and injustice — genocide, food crises, unjust and expensive wars, oil dependency and overpopulation. And I’m just getting started.  It is all devastating.

On a blog this morning I read the term post-evangelical1 so I went to the web to figure out what he meant.  After reading just a bit my knee jerk reaction I must admit is that I am a post-evangelical too.

But looking at it more closely I think the term is stupid — ill named.  Evangelical means “gospel” or “good news.”

I am a believer in the gospel.  What I do not believe in are the many people who call themselves Christians but they are truly fringe, fundamentalists — I believe some in the media call them ironically “the religious right.”  I think the term post-evangelical came out of a reaction to fundamentalists. And out of the desire to distance themselves, get as far away as one can from being identified like one.    I can relate!  I feel like I am constantly denying that I am a “FOX News Christian…”

I used to call myself a recovering evangelical because I felt those sort of Christians tarnish the witness of Christ and are frankly embarrassing.  So as much as I want to remove myself from the label and image of evangelical Christian I cannot say I am a post-evangelical. I’m still an evangelical.

I cannot get away from the truth that I attend a 75% white mega-church in middle-class America.  It’s of the EFCA denomination which I mostly know nothing about.  But I have chosen not become a member officially because they don’t ordain women or allow them, — er– us, to be considered for eldership.  But, for better or worse I am a part of “evangelicalism” because I attend, give and take part in an evangelical Christian church.

But the world is changing around the evangelical church and I believe there are areas that we must be responsive to the culture.

  • We must find ways to talk about these things within the Church without it creating partisan or contentious quarreling.   Without being perceived as a trouble maker.
  • We must forcefully adhere to the Word of God.  But study it first and foremost ourselves and not base our assumptions on what others tell us!
  • We must understand the cultural times we’re living in... Loaded words I know…

I feel strongly that these three things are incredibly important for the future of the Church and the future of our witness, yes us, evangelical Christians.  And with that in mind there are real barriers to people feeling welcome in our churches.

These are the things that I think are wrong with (many) evangelical churches.  The reasons that Christianity is so distasteful to many people outside of the church.  These are the barriers as I see them.

  1. Excessive focus on personal psychological growth and individualism
  2. Lack of theological depth coming from lack of personal study, understanding or wish to know the scripture individually
  3. Narrow and/or partisan political views which are unsubstantiated by scripture
  4. Lack of engagement in the culture: art, media, and society and/or a withdrawal from society and culture.
  5. Lives caught up in the pursuit of materialism and consumerism
  6. Insensitivity toward and lack of love for people who are LGBT or Q
  7. Lack of engagement of the role of women in leadership of the church.
  8. Ignoring social justice within the church.
  9. Ignorance as it relates to white power and male power and how that impacts minority groups and women within the Church.
(I got this originally off Wikipedia amazingly.  I rewrote it to better express my views. )

I have no therefore.

I simply think that this list is worth mulling over.

As Christ has made himself real to me — through a growing understanding and awareness of the incarnation and God’s grace in my life — I have had to face that God wants something from me.  Do I have any idea what this looks like long-term?  No.  And it is a constant heartache not knowing exactly how to respond to Him.   Yes, faith is a mystery and to wrestle with the what, and the who, and to respond has become the most challenging call in my life to date.

I continue to pray for peace, hope and love in my choices and actions and attitudes. For that is our challenge and lifelong discipline to figure out how to do that daily.  Forif we lose hope of receiving from Jesus soon will come despair.  We must be steadfast in our unconditional love of others and today do peace. Do hope.  Do love.  For in the end that is the Church of Christ.  Isn’t it?

MHH

1″The term evangelical has its etymological roots in the Greek word for “gospel” or “good news”: ευαγγελιον (evangelion), from eu- “good” and angelion “message.” In that sense, to be evangelical would mean to be a believer in the gospel, that is the message of Jesus Christ.”

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