Saturday, September 22, 2012

Observations of a recovering evangelical 1; Walking humbly with God


There are many kinds of addictions in our world; sex, alcohol, drugs, food… but, one of the most dangerous ones in my view is the addiction that evangelicals have with their religion. Let me just say that there is really a way that one can honor and love Jesus… can have a vibrant relationship with him… and not be a victim of religious addiction brought about in large part to control people and to get them to do things a certain way that end up benefiting a powerful few. I am beginning a series that will look at the flaws of this addiction, and will offer sound, reasonable, and even biblical ways to journey into recovery. I chose this one because of the insanity that surrounds the up-coming election.
Micah 6:8  “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
So many people are hung up with holiness and obedience. They are continually striving to live up to the letter of the law. Why are Christians caught up in Old Covenant righteousness? What is the cause of striving? Why are they burned out spiritually, and locked in continual fear? All too often it is because they are frantically trying to establish their own righteousness from law obedience. Yet, even under the Old Covenant, as the prophet Micah so poignantly points out, Gods requirements are relatively simple… do justice, that is, act justly… love mercy, that is love the mercy that God has given, and love to be merciful… and walk humbly NOT PROUDLY, but humbly before God. Those words produce two feelings with me. First, God is not looking for perfection but an attitude… a working towards these things. And secondly, let humility reign in the heart… be just a little humble.

Do you see how far off the path the Christian right is? There is no room for doing justice… they are too busy making sure that multi-national corporations can have no stumbling blocks in greed... Do not worry about the poor receiving justice and mercy in the gate (in governing.) And most of all, do not be humble… rather be proud of your right stance, and condemn anyone who would dare to strive for justice, who would love mercy to the point of being merciful, and who would show humility in allowing others to have their points… being tolerant.

I think that it is because most of orthodox evangelical Christianity is brainwashed. They operate like a cult… they are a cult. There is a need for de-programing. It is time for an intervention of a grand magnitude. There needs to be a broad change of mind… repentance if you will allow the term. It is time to look for the source of the gross lack of mercy and the propagation of pride. it is easy to find… it is in the doctrine and dogma… that is, in the teaching. The dogma and teaching is informed by the hermeneutic; by the interpretive lens used for scripture interpretation. De-programing demands education. De-programing demands an open mind. De-programing demands using logic to develop logical conclusions. One of the main problems that perpetuates the brainwashing is fact that evangelical Christians are asked to check their intellect that the church house door.

Why did Jesus and his followers change the hermeneutic? Why did they redefine the phrase word of God from Torah to gospel? The obvious answer is to help overcome the brainwashing that had been perpetuated by the scribes and Pharisees. It was to return to a simple use of common sense; the kind of common sense that can see the simple meaning of Micah 6:8. Do justice… love mercy… walk humbly before God!

8 comments:

  1. I'm a Lutheran, and in seminary we had it drilled into us that WE ARE NOT SAVED BY WORKS, and that even the act of having faith can be made into a work that we ourselves do. It is so important to give ALL the credit to God for everything good that we do. It is for this reason that we are not particularly fond of "decision theology", where salvation hinges on "making a decision for Christ". Of course this can lead to the quietist error that Bonhoeffer wrote so eloquently about - that we don't have to change our way of life, and that in fact it is dangerous spiritually to try too hard! There is a balance between the two extremes, and that's one reason it is sometimes hard to be a Lutheran!

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    1. Hi Nancy,
      One of the themes of this blog has been the way that *grace* is the catalyst for loving God sincerely and allowing the love to make us more loving and thereby more obedient. When you try to use the scales to judge how much grace, how much works, you end up with a schizophrenic Christianity that ultimately makes works the driving force... God's grace has to be the driver and evangelical orthodoxy including the Lutheran tradition has missed the mark on this.

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  2. Maybe this: Because it gets their juices flowing (aka addiction) to concentrate on what other people are doing, so they won't have to work on improving themselves. They discard Jesus' words and works and make it all about blood and crosses - much more dramatic. Alot of them say that "becoming more Christ-like" is blasphemy. I was raised being taught that for us to be becoming ever more Christ-like is the very reason Jesus came to teach us how to do it.

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  3. I love the phrase...recovering evangelical. The idea that we have become addicted to our works, instead of becoming addicted to the goodness of God. I appreciate the courage to come right out and say it; the righ-wing Christian agenda is not the gospel. Instead it's become a monster that needs to be shot in its religious head and put out of its misery. Instead of discipling the nations in loving God and loving our neighbor, we've left the finished work of Christ at home and have taken up the Crusade of guilt, shame and condemnation and are determined to hammer it home. What would happen if the Church left off its political agenda and returned to the one Paul, Peter and the early church preached? What would happen if instead of bashing gays, abortion doctors and Muslims, the Church returned to the central theme of the gospels of love, faith and hope? What would happen if the Church came into the revelation of the finished work of Christ (not they're in your face sin and burn theology) did as Paul suggested; preach the goodness of God which leads to repentance instead?

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    1. Thanks for this, SSpjut. I only have one proviso - Living out the Gospel like Paul and Peter (and, before them, Jesus!), is itself a very "political" act. The church cannot live out its faith without being "political," that is, "public."

      I know you meant "political" in terms of "partisan," and especially "right wing," and I entirely agree! The only thing I think Jesus would have to say to them today would be pointing out that they are "blind guides" and "white-washed tombs," and that they are "laying on others what they are willing to do themselves." In other words, hypocrites!

      However, we also need to address the current tendency to try to keep faith "private," and therefore not threatening to the status quo. Jesus is ALWAYS a threat to the status quo, and the church of Jesus needs to be doing that as well.

      Anyway, good thoughts, good discussion, and good article to start it off. Thanks all!!

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  4. I've been calling myself a recovering fundamentalist for years! You're right: it is very much like a cult: "Believe what we tell you to believe, nothing more or less, or you'll go to hell. Go to our church or one just like ours, or you'll spend eternity separated from God. Not only that, we won't have anything to do with you anymore." And they keep that promise. But it made me crazy enough that I attempted suicide when I was in my 20s because I thought I could never be good enough to be acceptable to God. Strong sexism is part of it, and some of my conflict was that I failed to demonstrate "the gentle, quiet spirit of a woman" idealized by Paul in the new testament. When they finally told me to stop mourning my father, who died suddenly when I was 19, because my sadness was driving people away from faith--"people are going to Hell because of you!"--I gave up. Chucked it all, told God, "If you're real, and there's another way to believe, then you come and find me and show me." All I can say is, he did. And thank you for posting this blog, because even after 30 years, I need to hear that others have made the same journey.

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    1. Your comment has caused me to weep with humility and encouragement at the same time.... Thank you so much for expressing it!

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