Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Is Not My Christianity

This is not my Christianity!

Though this expression of the faith has found favor with the media in recent years, and for many who have other faith-traditions, it's the only expression of faith associated with the word "christian," it's not my Christianity, nor that of millions of good and decent folk who take Jesus seriously and want to live their lives constructively in a difficult world.

The picture says it all:

These groups have fallen victim to something Emerson noted years ago: a truth, even a big truth, when held in isolation from others truths, becomes a lie.

Their narrow focus blinds them to the larger world around them. Filled a highly dangerous form of self-confidence, the kind of confidence that comes from talking to one's self endlessly, and with those who hold the same views - reinforcing the point, until, like feedback, all we have is a hideous screeching.

They are relentless and cruel, and share with extremists all around the world the same pattern of utter confidence in their own take on things and an complete disdain for others, if not an outright hostility that strangely turns the christian world upside down - that in the defense of life, as they so claim, the life of the opponent has no value.

In this church sign, we see everything that's wrong with this form of Christianity, and though some of generous nature might want to defend them as merely wayward brothers and sisters, this expression of the faith has to be exposed for what it is - a vicious contradiction of everything upon which Jesus stood, picking out of the tradition the very worst examples of power and violence (and there are plenty from which to choose) and twisting and distorting the Bible to suit their own agenda.

This is not my Christianity, and it's time for women and men of faith who follow Jesus and seek justice, who strive for peace and walk humbly with God, to stand up and be counted.

This is not our Christianity.

There is a Christianity rich and good - just as strong, but not violent. Focused on God and seeking justice, but without disdain for the other.

Read Marcus Borg or Bishop Tom Wright, Diana Butler Bass or Dominic Crossan, Barbara Brown Taylor or John Ortberg, Rob Bell or John Buchanan - all of these pastors and writers represent a coherent and loving expression of the faith, a faith devoted to lifting up the name of Jesus and lifting up the world with it.

There are many varieties of the faith, but the expression of faith represented in the cold and careless sign above is on the boundary at the farthest reaches of thought and behavior.

Has it crossed the boundary?

Into some sort of dark never-never land filled with pain and anger?

Has it gone too far into it's self-congratulating cave?

That it would dance on Dr. Tiller's grave?

Whatever it is, it's not my Christianity, and for that I give thanks to God every day!

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