Anne has concluded that she willnever truly belong to the “quarrelsome,hostile, disputatious, and deservedlyinfamous group” known as Christiansunless she becomes “anti-gay … anti-feminist … anti–artificial birth control… anti-Democrat … anti–secularhumanism … anti-science … anti-life.”
Tell that much of the story, and you have thesort of thing the news media love to report—another celebrity break-up, if you will. But thistime, the celebrity is divorcing God. But that’s not the whole story. Really, it’s notthe story at all. Anne explains that, “My faithin Christ is central to my life.” She is still “anoptimistic believer in a universe created andsustained by a loving God.” “But,” she says,“following Christ does not mean following Hisfollowers. Christ is infinitely more importantthan Christianity and always will be, no matterwhat Christianity is, has been or mightbecome.”
And so, she concludes, “In the nameof Christ… I quit Christianity and beingChristian.”
Do you have CRIS? Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome
TREATMENT: ADJECTIVES__conservative ___liberal___Evangelical ___progressive___emergent ___moderate ___a newkind of ___mainline ___ not THATkind of
Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/ protestant, liberal/ conservative, mystical/ poetic, biblical,charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
Back in 1972, Dean Kelley rocked thereligious world with Why ConservativeChurches are Growing (HarperCollins)...He spoke the then-shocking truth that“Mainline” Protestantism, which hadhistorically been the main form ofChristianity in the United States, wasfast becoming “old line” as it declinedin numbers.
It was losing ground to a “new line” ofconservative churches characterized byseriousness and strictness. Thesechurches were serious about themeaning they offered and strict inregards to wholehearted conformity totheir norms of belief and behavior.This ... made them socially strong, andthis social strength made them grow –as their adherents enthusiasticallyrecruited others.
In contrast, old-line churches wereincreasingly ecumenical -- respectful ofand open to dialogue with other faithcommunities and the meaning theyoffered. They were about makingfriends, not converts. Old-line churchesvalued individual freedom over groupconformity when it came to issues ofpurpose, belief, and behavior.
To old-liners, ecumenism, respect,dialogue, individualism, nonconformity,and freedom were precious qualities, butin terms of creating growth or evensustainability for the future, Kelleyclaimed they were counterproductive atleast, and potentially even suicidal. That’swhy he used unflattering terms likelukewarmness and leniency to describethem in contrast to the strictness andseriousness of their counterparts.
According to Kelley, strict, serious, andgrowing groups ... are not ‘reasonable,’ they are not‘tolerant,’ they are not ecumenical, they are not ‘relevant.’ They often refuse to recognize the validity of other Christian churches’ teachings, ordinations, sacraments. They observe unusual rituals … they [persist] in irrational behavior …They try to impose uniformity of belief and practice among members by censorship, heresy trials, and the like. (26).
The Paradox: There is about any serious meaning venture a certain irreducible fierceness, asperity, insistence, exclusiveness, rigor – a fanaticism that brushes everything else aside. Yet that very single- mindedness renders it objectionable to those who value balance, brotherhood, respect for individual diversity, mutual forbearance and self-restraint, civic peace, pluralism ... (164)
Chapter 6:Why Not a Strong, Ecumencial Religion?
“But why must there be any conflict? Arenot freedom, justice, respect for othersessential parts of the Christian faith?Ideally they should be, if rightlyunderstood. One can conceive of a high-demand religious movement devoted tojustice, freedom, beauty, respect for others,and so on, which could effectively explainlife to [humankind] without fanaticism,absolutism, intolerance, or judgmentalmoralism. That is what – ideally –Christianity ought to be.”
“Yet where is such a phenomenon to be found?” -- Dean Kelley, 1972
where didour strong- hostile identitycome from?
Misconception:Our religious differences keep us apart.
Actuality:It is not our religious differences that keep us apart, but rather a haunting religious similarity ... that we build strong identities through hostility.
Give people a common enemy, and youwill give them a common identity.Deprive them of an enemy and you willdeprive them of the crutch by which theyknow who they are. - James Alison
Can Christians today re-build our identity without hostility to the other?
We have the only way. STRONG-You are going to hell. HOSTILEWe are God’s chosen.You worship false gods.resistance if futile.you will be assimilated -or eliminated.
it doesn’t matter what youbelieve.all religions are the same.all roads lead to god.only sincerity matters.doctrines divide. weak-benignkeep religion private.
Because I Follow Jesus, I loveyou.I move toward “the other.”I break down walls of hostility.i stand with you in solidarity. strong-you are made in God’s image.i am your servant. benevolentI practice human-kindness.
In the “old apologetics,”exclusivism and superiority were attractive features.
In the “old apologetics,” exclusivism and superiority were attractive features.In the “new apologetics,”religious supremacy is adisqualifying factor.
Can there be ... uniqueness without supremacy? ... benevolence without weakness? ... strength without hostility?
6 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
22 All spoke well of him and wereamazed at the gracious words thatcame from his mouth. They said, ‘Isnot this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said tothem, ‘Doubtless you will quote tome this proverb, “Doctor, cureyourself!” And you will say, “Do herealso in your home town the thingsthat we have heard you did atCapernaum.” ’
24 And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophetis accepted in the prophet’s home town.25 But the truth is, there were manywidows in Israel in the time of Elijah,when the heaven was shut up for threeyears and six months, and there was asevere famine over all the land; 26yetElijah was sent to none of them except toa widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27Therewere also many lepers* in Israel in thetime of the prophet Elisha, and none ofthem was cleansed except Naaman theSyrian.’
When they heard this, all in thesynagogue were filled with rage.They got up, drove him out of thetown, and led him to the brow of thehill on which their town was built, sothat they might hurl him off the cliff.30 But he passed through the midst ofthem and went on his way.