This is gonna be a rough one.
The thing is, I’ve been railing against evangelicals for a while now. I have many reasons for this, which I believe are valid and mostly honourable. I have some anger and desire to see people freed from that system as I have been.
The other day I posted a “controversial” post about current abortion laws being passed, or close to being passed, throughout the United States. Many engaged with the conversation. Most were respectful, even if passionate and dead set in their views.
What stood out to me most were some of the private messages I received. Some were filled with passive aggressive accusations about how I’m following a counterfeit or new–age god. In recent months and years, I’ve spoken out against other beliefs, laws and standards held by most white evangelical Christians whichattempt to dehumanize and persecute immigrants, Queer people, POC, Indigenous people, and other marginalized groups. The responses tend to be the same, with there even being accusations of “holding theology that is from a den of demons.
I can’t do it anymore.
I can’t pretend to be okay with these differences in theology when they justify the oppression of others.
I can’t pretend to be ok with a god who apparently loves us so much that if we don’t choose correctly, he can’t stand the sight of us and casts us into pits of fire forever and ever amen.
I can’t pretend to believe that the bible is infallible, literal, or anything other than the story of God’s faithfulness to humanity throughout our failure, hate and violence.
I can’t pretend to be ok with the narrative told by evangelicalism of saving people from fiery hell after our death yet completely ignores the literal hell of people on this earth HERE and NOW!
I can’t pretend that the bible, is simply a book of facts to solve all of life’s problems rather than a tool that should be used to point us towards Jesus and love for one another.
I’m done pretending.
I want to sit in the mystery that is God and follow Jesus. Jesus draws me to a non-violent yet passionately involved life that releases the captives, heals the sick and pursues justice.
I want to follow a God that is about more than giving golden mansions and eternal life to those who won the birth lottery and burning those not born into a “Christian nation”.
I want to follow a God who frees us from our fear of death, our shame, and our pride… and calls us to help others do the same.
I want to follow a God who would literally give up all their privilege and power just to hang out with me.
To me, that looks like Jesus.
Evangelicalism has all but ruined church (in the traditional sense), prayer, and the bible for me… but it can’t take Jesus.
The one area that I’m willing to risk it all to be wrong about is Jesus.
I’m hopeful that through my pursuit of Jesus, I can learn a new, less toxic way of viewing and “doing” church, prayer, and scripture.
As I journey into “exvangelicalism“, I’ve found that I’m far from alone. There are so many people who have been doing community, faith, etc. for a lonnnnnng time differently than evangelicals do. The thing is, I was so indoctrinated growing up that my denomination and evangelicalism taught me I had the fast track and only true way to God.
Evangelicalism taught me that I would never be good enough.
Evangelicalism taught me that fear and shame are perfectly good and right motivators when souls are on the line.
Evangelicalism taught me that I am elect, and so God has placed a special calling on my life that was greater than those who God preordained to hell. As a result, pride runs rampant in evangelicalism and within me.
Evangelicalism also taught me that certainty, answers and confidence were the way to be christian, and that questions, doubt, and nuance were of Satan.
So when people accuse me of following another god… ya sure, I can wear that label, or the heretic label, or whatever you want to call me. The truth is, I’m following Jesus.
I’m clinging to the words, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. THAT is my theology.
I can live perfectly fine with all sorts of differences in theology, doctrine, denominations, etc., but when your faith and theology oppress anyone, I will enact what I saw Jesus embody… compassion, dignity and freedom for the oppressed. THAT is my theology.
I see and communicate regularly with countless folks who have left faith and Jesus because of what evangelicals and evangelicalism has done to them. My goal isn’t to “evangelize” any of them. My goal is to help relieve them from the burdens of hell they feel RIGHT NOW! THAT is my theology.
I hold various opinions, assumptions, theologies and doctrines, but I refuse to ever put those things over and above the dignity of a person. Jesus’ love for the person is always more important than our doctrine… always. THAT is my theology.
The bible wasn’t written by god or the Holy Spirit. It was written by men within the context of a specific time and place. It wasn’t written to be separated into verses and chapters, so it shouldn’t be used as such to create any sort of binding theology that oppresses or takes away from the message and life of Jesus. It is inspired, and intended to reveal who God is through Jesus. THAT is my theology.
We are called to worship and follow Jesus, not the bible. THAT is my theology.
Women and Queer people deserve, are called to, and need to participate fully in the life of the church. Without these representatives in leadership, we are missing out on pieces of the image of God that can help heal us, and the world. THAT is my theology.
Hell is very real, but it looks nothing like I was taught growing up. God never puts hell on us, but we do it to ourselves and each other. THAT is my theology.
The evangelical model of church leads to narcissistic leaders and pastors who are business leaders first rather than helping build the “Kingdom” here and now. The church isn’t a building or a denomination. It’s the people of God. It is all of creation. THAT is my theology.
Speaking of evangelical leaders… I know of churches and para-church organizations locally (yup, in Regina) and abroad that will do anything to protect the leaders at the expense of women and vulnerable people. Cover–ups are evil and those who knowingly choose not to protect and honour victims need to be called out. The church needs to do better. THAT is my theology.
As Christians, we are to look and act like Christ, and are never called to follow or fully endorse a political party or movement. HOWEVER, as Nish Weiseth once put it, “The best way for us to systemically love our neighbours is to vote for policies that affect the least of these”. THAT is my theology.
All of these “theologies” I’ve mentioned are what I see in Jesus. It looks like how thousands of Christians have seen Jesus for thousands of years, yet evangelicalism and all its nastiness (including but definitely not limited to Calvinism) have convinced us that Jesus looks much different than Jesus actually is.
I think Evangelicalism has taught us to fear and hide from God and others rather than to love God and others, seeing the good in one another.
I do my best to see Jesus in every person I encounter. This includes evangelicals. As it is with anyone born intothe world, evangelicals are also products of their environment.
Even if evangelicalism has ruined Jesus for many people, I truly believe that an encounter with Jesus can save any facet of faith (in christian form) for creation. When evangelicals worry about people who are “backslidden” or “atheists” or “sinners”, I laugh and am sad at the same time. I have faith that God is loving enough to figure out where all of us stand, whether we resonate with Jesus or not. If God doesn’t panic (Hint: God doesn’t), why should we? In fact, I believe that deconstructing our faith is critical, because we see who God truly is in all of God’s love. We need to tear down all of the false images we hold of God…and there are a lot of them in evangelicalism.
In the end, I know that I have previously held beliefs that which I now see as harmful and heresy. In the future, I will look back and likely see some of my current views as harmful or heresy.
So I want to make sure that every ounce of my theology and worldview is pushed through the life and lens of Jesus.
Dallas the exvangelical Jesus loving heretic