After yesterday’s announcement, I got texts, emails, comments, and social media messages asking the same question in myriad ways: Are You Still a Christian? First, if you are one of the people who reached out to me, thank you. Your care is a gift I do not take lightly even if you were someone who vehemently disagreed with me.
To answer the question…it depends on how you define Christian. Walking out of evangelicalism is HARD, especially because I’ve been in it for as long as I can remember being alive. It was woven into every aspect of my being, including thought processes I didn’t even realize were there until I began walking out. Maybe I’ll go into more of those later. For now, I’ll answer the question of whether or not I’m a Christian.
No. Not the way evangelicals define Christian.
That being said, I know there are God-fearing, church-going people who say things like I got yesterday from a dear family member: “As long as the person believes or knows they are loved no matter what there is peace in their heart I think. Jesus died so that I am forgiven. Mistakes are okay!”
I like her version of God. It’s just not quite Biblical. And evangelicalism interprets everything FIRST through scripture.
The God of the Bible is not a kind, benevolent being looking down on humanity with a gentle, grandfatherly smile thinking, “Oh, how cute. I just love you. “
Case in point: Uzzah. (2 Samuel 6)
This poor guy was an Israelite of the Levite tribe, a priest, which means he was one of the most sold-out-to-God people walking on the planet in his day. He also had the unfortunate task of joining his brother Ahio in accompanying the Ark of the Covenant (a/k/a God’s Earthly Home) from one place to another while David and the Israelites were in the midst of a rocking party for God’s glory.
Now, the Israelites had been told not to touch the Ark itself. Keep that in mind.
So, they put the Ark on a new cart (it had rings on the corners with poles through the rings – they lifted the Ark by touching the poles, not the Ark) to be taken to the party. This is a problem because the Ark is supposed to be carried by putting the poles on the shoulders of the priests and walked to its destination. Instead of their shoulders, these boys put it on a cart. It was a NEW cart, granted, but a cart nonetheless. Oxen were pulling the cart. They had to go down a hill with the thing. Off they went, Uzzah in the back and Ahio in the front.
Suddenly, one of the oxen stumbled. Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark and keep it from hitting the ground. He touches the Ark.
And God kills him on the spot.
Lesson: do NOT disobey God. 100% obedience required. At all times. No matter what.
Doesn’t really jive with the grandfatherly, indulgent, “mistakes are okay” idea, does it? Poor Uzzah didn’t even get a chance to repent!
David was so mad at God, he sent the Ark to some other house rather than take it into his own home. And God blessed the home that kept the Ark for those three months. Blessed them so hard David decided he DID need to take the Ark.
But I digress. The point here is, the Biblical God requires obedience at all times, in all ways, in all circumstances, without exception. He’s a “jealous” God (Exodus 34:14), a God to be feared (Proverbs 9:10, et al). He will take your life (and, if you read the whole Old Testament, you’ll see he also punishes generations of your descendants for your screw ups).
No, I do not give my entire and only life and being to that God.
“But Jesus” usually comes up at this point, or it’s where my mind would go when I contemplated exactly what the Bible had to say about God. Jesus brought grace and now it’s okay to mess up because we can be forgiven!
This isn’t true if scripture is king – and it is in evangelical world.
Biblically, Jesus is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and evangelicals believe that Jesus is part of the triune God. This means that Jesus was also the God in the Old Testament and, whatever He was like in the Old Testament, that’s how he is in the New Testament and beyond. Jesus Himself said in the New Testament that he didn’t come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) Otherwise, he’s a God who changes his ways and that doesn’t square too well with the whole omniscient and unchanging concept. That’d be scripture contradicting itself.
Which is why I walked away in the first place.
If the question is: are you a Christian as evangelicals mean that word? My answer is no.
But the God that much of the modern day church describes – the grandfatherly, kind, gracious, all-forgiving, patient being – that’s a different thing to consider.
Believing in that God just requires not believing entirely in his book.