The Fight for Unfundamentalist Christianity

Real talk: sometimes I don’t know why I’m writing a Christian book.

Engaging in the Christian conversation publicly gets exhausting, especially because it has become so wrapped up in political culture wars. Ugly. Divisive. Draining.

It has become extremely tempting to simply walk away. I feel done reading and writing the same old arguments, explaining why such and such theology is racist, homophobic, and sexist. I don’t want to be a Christian deconstructing my faith anymore, I just want to be human, as Robin R. Meyers says, “to ask questions, to solve problems, to make art, and ultimately to discover the most sublime gift of all—love.”

I want to join hands with those who are enlightened, my fellow unfundamentalists, and turn my back on those intent on bigotry and hate. I want to hide all the posts from conservative evangelicals who promote judgment over mercy, who glorify their own uppity moral superiority and fail to seize our Lord’s Greatest Commandment. I want to breathe the sweet air of freedom from dogmatism, from outdated religiosity, from institutions with too tall of walls and too narrow of doors. 

But this is the talk of the privileged. For those who do not find their own woundedness in the church and therefore do not need to seek healing there. For those whose survival do not depend upon the religious systems which bred the families who feed and clothe them. For those who are independent adults, who can, of their own volition, walk away.

I don’t feel like I possess such privileges. The language, Scripture, and theology of Christianity has shaped my identity, and one does not shed a faith identity as easily as taking off an item of clothing. It is a beautiful, rich, tradition passed on by a cloud of holy witnesses. In as many ways as it has been co-opted to conduct evil and violence against people, it has the capacity to heal and liberate both the oppressors and the victims. 

I stay engaged in the Christian conversation out of necessity, as one who was brought up in-house, to find my own deliverance in the same tradition which has harmed me and my family. (And trust me this is not an overstatement, my brother is trans, and the latest wave of aggression against the tran community is doing irreparable harm to our community). I do it to offer my small, humble gift of words to give voice to those who suffer the indignities of spiritual abuse. I do it because there is good inside and it’s worth fighting for.

I want to breathe the sweet air of freedom from dogmatism, from outdated religiosity, from institutions with too tall of walls and too narrow of doors.

I am no longer an evangelist for the Christian faith. One look at these stunning videos of our vast, complex universe is enough to convince me to repent of my previous evangelical arrogance, that we may have the monopoly on Truth and who God is as revealed in the Bible that we have interpreted with our evangelical lens.

Exclusivity is obnoxious. Lording your experience of God as normative and prescriptive for all of humanity is arrogant, perpetuates violence, and erases the identity of large swaths of fellow humankind. But just because I no longer believe my path is the only path doesn’t mean I cease to walk in it. Just because I celebrate the beautiful diversity and plurality of faiths and cultures doesn’t mean I don’t revel in the particularity of my own tradition. I believe in the story of Jesus and the narrative of the Christian scriptures to bring wholeness, liberation, and dignity to all. 

So I keep writing. To expose the false religiosity of those who condone abuse in the name of Jesus. To reach out across the internet and offer a word of love for those who need it. To rescue the name of Christianity from those hell-bent on dragging it through the mud.

My altar call is to these letters on my keyboard. And I show up, weak, tired, and drained, waiting for the Spirit to fill me with power.

~ I’ve created an unfundamentalist parenting manifesto, an alternative to the Four Spiritual Laws. Download the one page print-quality PDF for free HERE. ~

 

  • Julia Bishop

    I kept repeating, Wow, as I was reading. I think a common purpose for writers as well as readers, is to build a bridge for one another that says, “I am not alone, you are not alone.” The miles that separate us have been bridged by your words. I’m continually grateful that you return to your “altar call,” even when weak, tired, and drained. Know that the Spirit is filling your words with power. These words specifically, ” I don’t want to be a Christian deconstructing my faith anymore, I just want to be human,” brought tears to my eyes. I too, feel weak & tired in the battle to maintain some semblance of faith within my Christian tradition and not just walk away and bury my struggle. When feeling alone in the place I occupy called “home,” you continually give me courage to open my eyes to the miracles in the ordinary. You give me courage to call what I clung to as the only absolute truth, as arrogance. May we walk forward in love & humility & ever growing, changing faith.

    • Oh Julia, thank you so much for your sincere comment, I am so glad my words have reached you. Much love.

  • Paisley

    I find such cameraderie at unfundamental christians in terms of issues and questions I am concerned with, but had to leave the christian church. live discussions of these things are still happening at the uua, and i feel i am challenged to be my potential there without having to sift through people looking for those without assumptions and judgements i can’t live with. we probably have our own assumptions and judgements that others couldn’t bear. what about christianity doesn’t happen for you in the uu?

  • lepton

    Beautiful, life-giving perspective. A strength I did not have. I was unable to turn the corner rebuilding an image of God in my head that wasn’t a complete monster (that image of a monster my Evangelical upbringing basically drilled into me). So I rejected Christianity. People see me as an easy target for evangelization because I’m low in society and usually people down on their luck are open for a change. But for a variety of reasons I’m a test case of expected religious experience that fails over and over in multiple ways.

    • I believe God dwells most closely with those “low in society”, but if your image of God is irredeemable from your upbringing, I hope you are finding peace in other shape or form.

      • lepton

        Very interesting. I feel that if you can tribe up with others being oppressed in similar ways and seek God you have a shot at experiencing the divine. But going it alone (especially in my experience where I have a toxic experience of God) God couldn’t dwell any further.

  • There is good inside and it is worth fighting for. Alongside that, it’s also true that you can fight very hard by building and being the very counter-community you and others long for. There was a group of people who longed for a better way who took on the whole Roman Empire like that.

  • Central Oregon Duck

    Exclusivity is beyond obnoxious, it is not what Jesus taught. Growing up as a fundamentalist we ignored Jesus saying, “I have other sheep that are not of this flock” John 10:16. Of course this was carefully explained away in order to hang on to our superiority. Thanks for posting, I have enjoyed reading your perspective.

%d bloggers like this: