Evangelical heretic…

We rarely have the guts to admit it, but our most cutting critics often hold up a mirror into which we would do well to look.  The picture at right, which many will find highly offensive, is just such a mirror.  It reads:

CHRISTIANITY:  The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a woman who was created from a man’s rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple from a magical tree . . . yeah, that makes perfect sense.

That summary makes some Christians throw up and others laugh hysterically.  What I wish it would make more of us do, is think –really think– about the stuff we say.  The harsh truth is that Christians make an awful lot of claims that sound nonsensical…and that’s because a lot of them are.  I don’t mean this in a “scandal of the cross” kind of way either.  While it will always be true that the non-negotiable claim of Christianity that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, is laughable to many (just as it was in the first century when the Apostles proclaimed it), it’s also true that the church has created many “barriers to entry ” (to borrow a business phrase) that were never demanded by Jesus or the Apostles (for reference, read the “Statement of Faith” of any Evangelical church).  As I have said before, we must face the fact that Jesus cares a whole lot about who we drive from the faith.

I care, paradoxically, because I want people to meet Jesus.  You may have noticed that the title of this post can have at least two meanings…on one hand, some things I say are heresy to the conventional Evangelical, but on the other hand, some of the “heresies” I have proposed, come precisely from my “evangelical” desire to see people acknowledge King Jesus (I use this word because it’s been applied to me; I do not acknowledge that my proposals are heresy).

Far too much of what the church teaches, has to do with making sure people think the right thoughts about God.  This is not what Jesus preached…he invited people to follow him; he commanded his apostles to make disciples; he said “come unto me all you who are weary” (Matt. 11:28) and “he comes to me I will not cast out.” (John 6:37)  We who name Jesus’ name, need to rediscover the fact that Jesus cares more about people seeking him, than he does about people thinking the right stuff about him.  I’ll believe we are doing that when our creeds are replaced by our communities.  We still won’t make sense, but our foolishness will be that of Jesus rather than that of our own arrogant intellects.

3 thoughts on “Evangelical heretic…”

  1. Mason

    “I’ll believe we are doing that when our creeds are replaced by our communities.”

    I suppose I don’t see why that has to be an either or. Creeds have their place, and rightly used seem to strengthen community not weaken it.
    One can be perfectly comfortable affirming, say, the Apostles Creed and still be passionate about anyone who is seeking Jesus no matter where on that journey they find themselves, right?

    1. Dan Martin Post Author

      Actually, Mason, I have no objection to the Apostles’ Creed…and it’s really the *only* one to which I can say that (the Nicene, for example, I can’t endorse). I’m even comfortable with your statement that the creed rightly used can “strengthen community,” since that phrase can actually mean at least two things: if you mean “to build up the community by teaching them the richness of Jesus’ work,” I’m all for it; but if you mean “to define who may or may not be part of the community,” this would concern me. You are absolutely right that one can “affirm” the A.C. and still be passionate about those seeking Jesus. My objection is when (as many Christians do) the phrases are switched around, so that if you aren’t passionate about the contents of the creed, you are by definition not adequately seeking Jesus (please not, I’m not accusing you personally of this; it’s what I see generally).

      I think it’s also important to recognize that the Apostles’ Creed claims far less for its summation of orthodoxy, than do most later creeds and/or current statements of faith. You’ve probably seen this, but I wrote more about that a couple years ago in my Word About Creeds. Even in the A.C. I wouldn’t want to see people required to affirm “he descended into hell” as a point of orthodoxy. AFAIK the only reference in the entire N.T. upon which something like this MIGHT be based is 1 Pet. 3:19, which is obscure at best.

  2. RJ

    Hi Dan, its nice to see you back posting on a regular schedule. I am away from my home base right not so don’t have you on a subscription here.
    As usual, I pretty much agree with what you say. The church where I was recently asked to leave never used the A.C. but instead the Nicenne Creed. I always wondered why and later found that the Nicenne was being used as a litmus test for whether you are really a Christian of the brand that they would accept.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *