Saturday, March 8, 2008

Deep Sigh...

I've been reading a lot of stuff on people who have lost their faith lately. The big one was on Christdot - but there's been other blogs I've stumbled into as well. All in all, the stories have made me sigh - the comments on various blogs have made me want to weep. Why is this? It's because the stories all seem to go like this, "I was a conservative Christian/Fundamentalist, I was 'on-fire' for God, I did Evangelism, I went to Church, I started getting restless, I examined the world, my faith told me that the world had to be one way or it was all a lie, the world wasn't that way, I think God is a fable now and I'm so relieved."

This story makes me sad, not only because people have been down a road in which they now find encouragement in the belief that God doesn't exist, but because I'm not even sure that the "either-or" between fundamentalism and atheism is all that different. I've been on the road out of conservative Evangelicalism™ since my seminary days (ever since I went back for a conference and asked a question that freaked people out but was well-within the bounds of historic Christianity). To be honest, I never really was all the happy with conservative Evangelicalism™ - it has to do with the Mennonite Environment in which Jesus socked me on the head - I just went that direction because it "seemed" like that's where the "real Christians" were congregating. Eastern University kinda pulled that rug out from under me and started me on a journey in which I actually am wondering if Fundamentalist Christianity is really Christianity at all. Let's be honsest, we've all got blind-spots. It's part of being human. As I look upon Fundamentalist Christianity (which now, sadly, is Evangelicalism™ almost exclusively) - I wonder if perhaps their blind-spots have gotten so huge that they've fallen off a cliff without even noticing. I wonder if perhaps God's left - and they so internally powerful that no one has noticed! It's not like there isn't precedent for this in Bible, right?

If my concerns are true, this makes all these de-conversion stories all the more depressing. People keep saying that God wasn't there (in the Evangelical™ world) and so they lost their faith. I keep wondering if perhaps God's going, "Duh!!?? Of course I wasn't there, those people are whack jobs - they don't look like my Son at all!" Sadly, this isn't a point that can be brought up with many of the folks who have taken that journey out of faith - largely because there are fundamentalists on that side of the aisle as well, and they are just as rabid and snarling as the theist variety.

Having only ever orbitted the Evangelical™ world, I can honestly say that I don't know what it feels like to have the carpet pulled out from under me the way many of these folks have had done. I can say, given that I'm still attached to Evangelicalism™ in that I'm a Trinitarian Theist who's not part of the high catholic traditions, I have to say I understand a bit of their relief. I mean, good grief, Christdot used to have someone on it that really insisted the Sun must go around the earth because "the Bible said so." I can't imagine the types of mental gymnastics needed to keep that world-view intact - no wonder they burn out!

So, if you're struggling with belief, faith, and are want to believe but have no "reason" for it (given that the world-view which propped up your belief have been revealed to be smoke and mirrors), let me encourage you to find one of those "high churches." Not for the comfort, and not for the cool music, and not for the "great programs." Find one, in order to experience something that Evangelicalism™ has utterly forgotten - the mystery of the presence of God. Will it save your faith? I have no idea. For all I know it might only begin faith in you. At least, however, you'll have encountered a Christianity beyond the boundaries that you're finding stifling.

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