Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Buh-Bye

You are not a team player. And if you aren't for us you are against us.

This seems to be the view of some of my evangelical (former) friends on Facebook. Whether de-friending loudly and brusquely as in the case of some family .... or quietly and unobtrusively, as did some ministry friends; my evangelical ranks are thinning out.

The interesting thing is that the vast majority of my FB friends are Christian, but the de-friending (and the ones who fail to see the humor in my posts) seems to have primarily confined itself to conservative evangelicals. I suspect this has as much to do with politics as theology. They may be annoyed at my view of penal substitutionary atonement theory; but questioning conservative politics is just #%*$@*$# ungodly!

So at some point they decide it would be more comfortable to make my commentary go away. Like I said, sometimes they leave quietly. Other times they send parting emails questioning why I have left the faith? What caused me to fall from grace? Assuring me that I am in their prayers... and will I give their regards to Beelzebub when I go to Hell? :)

Of course I reject this interpretation of my view. I simply see Christianity in a different light.

To illustrate: I am a public school teacher. If you look through my blog, you will see me critiquing the system. As an insider, I can comment on what is good, point out what is weak, and reject that which is harmful.  I do not defend practices I see as harmful within schools simply because I am a teacher.

In the same way, Christianity is a system. As an insider, I can comment on what is good, point out what is weak, and reject that which is harmful.  I do not defend practices I see as harmful within our faith simply because I am a Christian.

If someone gets offended when a potentially harmful practice is critiqued, I can guess where their loyalties lie. They are probably dedicated to the system, and people are secondary. If scripture is clear on one thing, it is this: Folks easily get more dedicated to the system than the people it was created to serve.

Richard Rohr touched on this in his book Everything Belongs:

I think Christianity has created a great problem in the Western world by repeatedly presenting itself, not as a way of seeing all things , but as one competing ideology amongst many. Instead of leading us to see God in new and surprising places, it too often has led us to confine God inside OUR place.

Every major religion has done the same. This preoccupation leads to over-identification with the group, its language and its symbols. Group loyalty becomes the test rather than loyalty to God or truth. ... It is easier to belong to a group than belong to God.... The belief is that God is only found by our group. The next step is to establish the identification with our group as the only way to serve God.

For some, as Richard describes, I have failed to show group loyalty. Sometimes though, I think you have to be disloyal in order to serve a greater loyalty. Errol Flynn said it best as Robin Hood:

Prince John: Bring Sir Robin food! At once, do you hear? Such impudence must support a mighty appetite.

Robin: True enough, your Highness. We Saxons have little to fatten on by the time your tax gatherers are through.

Prince John: Do you feel you are overtaxed?

Robin: Overtaxed, overworked and paid off with a knife, a club or a rope.

Marian: Why, you speak treason!

Robin: Fluently.

7 comments:

societyvs said...

"Group loyalty becomes the test rather than loyalty to God or truth..." (Rohr)

Rohr is right on the money and I think this needs to be pointed out more concerning having faith in a 'real' God instead of 'groupthink'. Sure it's cool to agree with everyone else, feels nice to be part of the group, but this is not always the case for someone seeking God in this reality. We shall disagree on issues, but to be cut off for doing so, that's not a good sign (anyone say 'cult').

Jon said...

It must be painful to be cut off by friends for being honest. In good company though, given Jesus was crucified for something similar.

Don said...

Andrew- Good post. I see it the same. Following because you want to be part of the group is much easier than being in the vanguard of something new, and possibly greater. Cheers to the vanguard!

Christopher V. Enger (aka fuegote) said...

Andrew,

FYI, I deleted my facebook account all together but still follow your blog.

Andrew said...

Chris- Heh! I knew you had left FB altogether. I was bummed because: A - It was my primary way, outside of a show, of keeping in touch with you; and B - Now how am I supposed to know about what is going on in the world of soccer!? :)

Christopher V. Enger (aka fuegote) said...

I have an email address. ;-)

Michael said...

Wow, this is at the same time sad and insightful. In my years as a Christian I have learned one basic tenet to live by. Love the Lord God with all my being and love my neighbor as myself. It amazes me how much the conservative right (at least the ones we see in all aspects of the media) teaches contrary to this in the name of God.

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