Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why Stay? Musings About Evangelicalism

 "The church is a whore, but she is my mother."
--(Probably) Not Saint Augustine.

Its an odd thing to consider, being a product of your culture. For me, to notice many a thing that I've been guilty of doing or assuming makes for interesting recollections. In noticing the sins of my past (and considering the sins of my future), I do wonder why I stay in evangelicalism. To many, this is akin to sitting on a sinking ship listening to "World Wide Suicide."

I don't really love the church. Its not an uncontroversial thing to say for anyone ten years before or after my generation. In fact, many of my generation affirm this. Its easy to list off the sins of the church as a corporate entity, so I will let you fill in the blanks yourselves.

What I think I want to distill is about a years worth of thought in the next two hundred words. Away we go.

Why stay in the church? Why not just leave, cut my losses and … do something else? I think, for one, there is history here. About 2,000 years of it. Much of it beautiful, much of it horrific. I don't affirm the idea of contrasts existing to make things beautiful, but I do tend to see value in hindsight. For example, I suffered a lot through my teen years with pornography and a budding sense of misogyny. Sitting here now, reflecting, makes it easier to see where I went wrong, but also where others could be going wrong. The experience helps, in some sense.

A second peg that keeps me here is I do want to help others, and to reform evangelicalism. I think it would be a great help to others if evangelicalism made a significant shift towards empathy and integrity. Personally, many of my friends are in evangelicalism and aren't aware of the issues of the system. Maybe a part of me wants to help reform such things.

A third peg, I suppose, is the idea of reconciliation. I don't like having enemies or people I don't like. I don't like holding grudges and I'm predisposed to hold such things close to my skin. If I could maybe remove these things, others could do it. Or, if others have done it, I could learn from them. I suppose the nature of reconciliational reciprocity is what I think I seek from the community.

A four, and by no means final, reason is that I have seen evangelicalism change. In some instances, it has been simply through conversations with friends and folks I've never met once. Having a debate with my friend Marius about women in ministry gave me hope when he challenged me, took my challenge, and changed his mind. That sort of thing gives me hope, that evangelicals can indeed change, or be flexible. I've changed my mind on many things since I started studying again.

Hopefully, this isn't an isolated incident involving just one evangelical.

Why do you stay? Or, why have you left?

--Nick

13 comments:

  1. I've left the faith, stayed in the church. Very explicit about both. I cannot, in good conscience, proclaim adherence to church dogma.

    I can, however, be the only "out" unbeliever that is willing to engage peaceably with many of these people.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. What are some of the things that make it difficult for you to adhere to said doctrine?

      Thanks again. :)

      --Nick

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  2. The same reason Peter gave when many of Jesus' followers were offended at his words and he asked the apostles if they too would abandon him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68) My family and I suffered long at the hands of a fundamentalist cult, which included indoctrination and sexual abuse, but in my own crisis of faith I discovered that there were compelling reasons to believe that God existed and that the Gospels gave reliable testimony to Jesus as God Incarnate. That's the only thing that matters, in the end. So I stick with people who at least give lip service to those truths.

    I still have wounds from my earlier experience, but even so I recoil with horror when you say that you don't love the church. How is that not spitting in the face of Jesus, since He shed His blood for it? To what heights of sanctity and divine insight have you ascended that embolden you to pronounce judgment on the church, so that from your perspective you are graciously granting to it your continued presence, in the hopes that you might redeem it?

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    1. I don't proclaim divine insight, and I never suggested the fact that I don't love the church as being a good thing. In fact, I feel like its something that shouldn't be, which is why I have been working through my past. Personally, I affirm everything you said in your first paragraph, so your second paragraph seems out of place and, frankly, defensive. My third point is intentionally seeking reconciliation; this includes me being reconciled to the church and putting off my old issues.

      Maybe you misunderstood me?

      --Nick

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  3. I certainly understand why you are saying what you do, but perhaps the wording should change? Instead of why stay in church, maybe a better question is to say why stay in Christianity!

    The Church is the Body of Christ, whom Jesus said He loves and was willing to lay His life down for. The Church is the Kingdom of God brought here to this earth.

    Christianity on the other hand, is often nothing more than a religious group of various sects and denominations who bicker amongst themselves and sometimes don't really do much for the Kingdom of God (Church.)

    If you are a believer in God you cannot separate yourself from the church, as you are automatically a member of the body of Christ. But that doesn't mean you have to continue on following the rules and regulations of Christianity or on specific denomination or church (with a lower case C).

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I found it helpful. :)

      --Nick

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  4. I have found that my faith has been extremely beneficial to me! Unfortunately, all religions are headed and full of sinful humans, so we may never get it quite right, but we can learn to forgive, to pray for each other and to find peace in that. My faith has been essential to helping me find my peace of mind and learning to love others as God loved me- I have written more here.

    http://mycornerview.blogspot.com/2013/11/forgiveness-its-big-word-isnt-it-we.html

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Enjoyed your post. :)

      --Nick

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  5. I've been reading your posts for a while but haven't figured out how to post on my iPhone until now. I also live in California, manteca, up north in the San Joaquin valley outside SF. My name is dylan. I like your thoughts nick.

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    1. Thanks Dylan. My iTouch won't let me write or post things either. ;)

      --Nick

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    2. You can ready my crazy thoughts at madeperfect31.tumblr.com

      My thoughts and writing are a bit unpolished! I'm going for my MDiv online through Liberty. Sometimes it's cool and fun but sometimes it's quite boring and predictable!

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    3. Very cool. I'll check it out when I'm not under the gun. :)

      How is it cool/predictable? I'm curious, I have a few friends looking to go through Liberty's online MDiv program.

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