Monday, August 16, 2010

Who wants to be a Christian?

It seems that everybody hates Christianity.  Weirdly enough, this includes a whole lot of Christians.  I was just struck by that again after reading Anne Rice’s resignation from Christianity:

Gandhi famously said: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." When does a word (Christian) become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

Now I know that her words gave a sizable number of believers a bad case of the vapours, I thought it was really Christian of her to renounce Christianity.  I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve come across who insist on being called “King’s Kids”, “Christ Followers” or “Disciples of Jesus” rather than “Christian”.  See, whether you agree with her or not, it’s hard to deny that she was spot on regarding the baggage attached to the name “Christian”.

Of course you are far more likely to hear Christians simply claim that all the Christians who do bad things are not real true Christians.  Now this approach is not without merit.  It is after all very easy for anyone to belong to a Church and to call themselves Christian without actually believing (or practicing) any of it.  However, this does not mean that all Christians who say and/or do horrible things are fakes.  It is entirely possible to be passionately and sincerely wrong.  People have being doing bad things with good intentions for as long as there have been people after all.  You can be so convinced that you are in the right that you don’t even realize how wrong you are.

I think this is worse than simply refusing the label of "Christian".  Redefining “Christian” to be “someone who is always at all times perfectly like Christ” is an impossible standard.  You may as well renounce the label then because if that is how you define “Christian” then you are pretty much admitting that there are no Christians on this earth. Maybe that’s why no one wants to be one!

Honestly, is it that hard to simply own up to our mistakes?  Is it that important to always be rigth and perfect?  I prefer honesty and repentance over whitewash and faked perfection.  Why not just own your baggage and that of your group?  It can be therapeutic!  It may even make the whole group seem a bit more hospitable

1 comment:

GumbyTheCat said...

Yes, the fashionable trend these days is for Christians to say they are not Christians, but simply people who have a "personal relationship" with Christ. To me that's saying, "No, I'm not a Christian, I'm a Christian!"

I think a lot of Christians are trying to distance themselves from the malignant side of fundie/evangelical Christianity when they say things like this. Unfortunately for them, this little evasive-semantics maneuver actually comes from fundie/evangelical types. And the most hateful of the "I can't wait for the rapture and the suffering of billions so I can get my eternal reward" crowd are very often the ones who use this weak evasive tactic.

Bottom line. If you believe in Christ, you are a Christian. Period. End of story.

Instead of being cowardly and trying to appropriate all the heavenly-reward aspects of the religion while running the nasty, malevolent side of Christianity, maybe Christians should try to take their religion back from the rabid doom-and-gloom right-wing Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin idolaters who are the ones making it shameful to admit being a Christian in the first place.

When moderates ignore or run from the extremists simply because it is comforting to do so, bad things happen. If moderate Muslims had bothered to rein in their extremist nutjobs instead of hiding their heads in the sand, maybe 9/11 would not have happened.

Hope you are well my friend!