Evangelical bashing is the thing to do. Books, blogs, and vlogs podcast their way to a world of whateverism. This leads to the fork in the road called deconstructionism. One goes to extreme order of Catholicism or anglicanism, and the other option one goes to extreme chaos or progressive Christianity, assuming they don’t religiously implode all together. Points added for pushing evangelicals to a particular political candidate. And for the wins, focus on the worst of it, even though others have the same issues. This will build an audience as you are a tour de force agains the nutty evangelicals.
Bashing evangelicals is easy points
Stated a few times “of course you stayed in church, you are a pastor.” Reality is I did not have to dedicate my life to ministry. To be pastor you have to be in church first. When the majority run, why stay? This post and the next are part of a series of why I stayed, The first two deal why I am a rapture minded Baptist, the next of why I stayed in church, and the last will focus on why I did not quit ministry. I stayed because I see evangelical movement as a better embracement of the Bible.
Deconstruction choice #1: Extreme order
Church is messy. It always has been and will be, until Jesus gathers His bride. Many choose to not handle the messiness of church and move towards order. High church ceremony and order is pleasing, but it is not without its own chaos. In researching those leaving faith for agnosticism or atheism, high church minded movements were high. Added to this is the lives damaged historically from these movements, including antisemitism and abuse of church and state. There is a beauty and peace to pomp and circumstance, but it lends to a faith in tradition instead of faith dependency on Scripture. Faith is supplanted by ceremony, and the issues one had with evangelicalism are still present, just another team.
Deconstruction choice #2: Extreme Chaos
Church is defined. The New Testament laid out a structure for the church. The abuse of structures, especially by the CEO as pastor mindset, overemphasis on leadership, and extreme pragmatism caused many to become disillusioned. Hence, one becomes spiritual or its cousin progressive Christian. From that move one then becomes an exevangelical or whatever. The factual aspect of faith is supplanted by feelings aka “your truth,” and the issues within they had with evangelical are still present, just another team.
Deconstruction choice #3: Check, please
Others just check out. What is interesting and common with all three choices is they act very much like the evangelicals they left. Argumentative cadence, etc. is same, just a different team. With those I interacted with, I found an interesting patter: The theology was the causality, as it was the people they were leaving. What we see in the world is also what we see in the church. How, then, do we deal with this disillusionment? Faith is altogether rejected, but the problems still exist on other fears.
Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God. As humans we gravitate towards control and ceremony. Choice #1 doesn’t surprise me. We hate being told what to do at all, and so choice #2 doesn’t surprise me. And for decades I’ve seen the emptiness of choice #3. Is evangelicalism without errors or issues? No. So why ignore the fork in the road? Because in Genesis to Revelation, following after God is messy. People are broken, and our hero isn’t to look at what we have done but what He has done. God is the hero. To loosely quote a professor, “It seems God created a large area of life where we have to simply trust Him. The Christian walk requires faith, and that’s not comfortable.”
So I stayed…
From the mid 90’s when I started looking into reasons for Agnosticism, and the people who fell into the three deconstruction choices, the constant I saw was angst. A zeal against evangelicalism, not for their new team. While evangelicalism has many issues to address, that is the norm for Christ’s church for centuries. But in every revival, every turnaround, I see God’s Word, not tradition, being the driver. I see a return to God’s ways, not to adapting to culture. And in the end, I see an enduring joy, not emptiness and despair. Leaving the church would not remove the angst, but there are issues that need to be addressed.
We are all broken
We, as “little christs” aka Christians, forget by our actions that “he who is without sin is a liar.” We forget that we are under no condemnation in Christ Jesus. We forget that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Church, as I often say, is one big happily dysfunctional family. When we see Jesus face to face, the dysfunction will drop. Until then I have an obligation to love in a way that Saint Paul teaches. That involves patients, long suffering, forbearance, endurance, steadfastness. Sure, we can switch teams, and the current state of affairs that can be amply rewarded. But Jesus loves His church and is making her ready. The solution to others’ lack of love, is to be loving yourself.