Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Religious Disallusionment and the Rise in Snake Oil Sales

Lately I’ve found myself to be on a faith journey. It’s not one I started deliberately, and from where I stand now, it’s more than a little uncomfortable. I feel like I’ve climbed about halfway up a cliff face, and knowing what I know now, I can’t go back down, but pushing ahead looks like it’s going to be a challenging climb.

I grew up in an Evangelical Christian environment, with roots in the Word Faith movement. Because that was my whole world, it came as quite a shock to my parents, when I told them I wanted to date a CRC boy. Yes, we were both Christians, and yes, we both loved Jesus, but because of his lack of Evangelicalism I was somewhat concerned for his mortal soul. He married me anyway. These feelings lingered for several years into our marriage, and though my dear husband loved me, he never fully accepted my blatant evangelicalism. As wives do, I prayed fervently to God, asking him to please fix my husband, and I think that was when I had the first turning point that put my feet on a different path. God spoke to me. He said, “I don’t need to fix him, I made him that way.”

That was a kick in the gut for me. So, after all, God even loved people from the CRC tradition.  He wasn’t nervous about their non-charismatic theology, old songs, Apostles Creed, or long pre-written prayers. In fact, he loved their heart-felt worship, kind hugs and handshakes, and sermons. He appreciated their twice-a-Sunday services, and energetic kids Bible camps, and maybe - just maybe, I was on the wrong side of this one.

The idea that my Evangelical friends and I were just a cut above all the other Christians was an idea that didn’t want to vacate easily.  (After all - the Evangelicals are getting in to Heaven first) Then my Christian world imploded. I experienced a situation in which people who I admired and looked up to were angry, malicious, dishonest and cruel - all in the name of Jesus. Maybe that shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. I had bought into it all, the theologies like - God blesses those who bless themselves, God gives bigger and better to those who give bigger and better, good things will happen when you have enough faith, and other assorted beliefs. Leaving my relationship with God somewhat one sided, and scattered in pieces on the floor. 

In an effort to pick up the pieces and put them back together I’ve found myself breaking even more with certain Evangelical perspectives. So much so, that if I was asked to identify with a specific Christian background for myself - I don’t think that I could. I can no longer stomach the money driven Evangelical doomsday prophets who are touting fear and Trump at every opportunity, who are twisting the truth of the Bible and fully wearing an ALL-ABOUT-ME Christianity, just so they can say to those foolish enough to not want this brand of Christianity -  I told you so. People who are somehow okay with church members hiding in pornography on Saturday night, and then cursing out a Gay family on their way in to worship Sunday morning. Who think that love and forgiveness should only come on their terms, and to people who think exactly like they do.

I can no longer stop the questions that are bubbling up from my soul that demand an answer. How do we welcome Muslim refugees? What is our responsibility to people of other faiths? How do I get rid of my own racism and fear of the future? How do we get beyond irresponsible Christian platitudes like “love the sinner, hate the sin”? How do I actively LOVE my LGBTQ brothers and sisters like Jesus would? What will make my own faith relevant to my children? Will they see my faith centralized in the person of Jesus Christ - his life, death, burial and resurrection? How do I love the people who want to hate? How do I respond to people with love, even when they think differently from me?

I asked God these same questions. He answered me. Matthew 7:7 - Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will; find. Knock and the door will be open to you.

I never thought about the measure of faith it takes to knock on a door - yet, we practice it every day. Once you knock, there is always a period of waiting and trusting that the door will be opened. I also never thought about God’s invitation to ASK and SEEK. For a very long time, I’ve let good religious people tell me what to think and how to think it. It’s time I started to think on my own. God isn’t worried when I read Matt Walsh’s blog, nor does he get concerned when I read John Pavlovitz blog, he isn’t threatened when I question the messages that I hear, and it doesn’t even bother him when I don’t agree with my Pastor. He wants me to ask and seek for him, and I know that I am not able to wander too far from my good Shepherd’s side.

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