There is debate amongst some in Christian circles about the term "Christian". Some have quit using it, and instead take on various euphemisms such as Christ Follower, Follower of the Way, etc. Others most often go by their particular sect - Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc.... Others stick with Christian because they either agree with all the baggage that now comes with the name, or they are determined to reclaim it from the more fundamental faction of the religion that now seems to typify the word.
I find myself rather ambivalent about it. I discover I am rather more interested with what word comes to mind when people get to know me. It seems rather pompous if I give myself the name Christian, but everyone else is thinking asshole.
Still, I see myself more and more on the outer edge of Christian circles ... and am finding myself happy there. The things that impassion the majority of Christians are no longer even a blip on my radar. For example:
• I do not believe God has any more investment in America than anywhere else. It is pure ego and insecurity that drives us into all of this "God is on our side" language.
• There is no "War on Christmas".
• I believe abortion is the murder of innocent life, but our attempts to legislate it away is closing the door when the horse has already left the barn. It is easy to shout against abortion, it is a sacrifice to work for the changes that need to come about to make a real difference.
• Christians are no different than anyone else.... really..... at all.
• I do not believe that any soul will spend an eternity in a place called Hell. Nope, not one.
• I believe prayer in public schools is motivated by a desire for power, not piety.
• I do not believe it is a threat to my children, nor to my marriage, if homosexuals marry.
• I believe the world would be a better place if the head of every ministry quit, then went and got a job at their local hospital.
• I do not believe in any kind of "rapture". I believe God wants us to redeem this world.
• I believe God is as close as out next breath, but that most Christian rhetoric shields Him from view.
• I believe Christianity competes with other religions, and that is a mistake.
• I believe most Christian parents lead their children to make spiritual decisions that they are not yet equipped to make.
• I believe organizations like Focus on the Family do more harm than good.
• I believe most churches indoctrinate their congregations and are houses of theological inbreeding. Inbreeding is bad in genetics and worse in theology.
• I believe Christians spend a lot of time working on "belief" rules (inerrancy of scripture, hell, trinity, salvation, etc..) so they can divide people into in/out and thereby give themselves a higher position.
• I believe Christianity has completely jettisoned the command to "love your enemy" and in doing so we have lost the heart of the gospel.
• I believe God stands with the poor. Christianity honors the poor while inside church doors, but mocks them in political discussions.
• I believe there are Christians who live contrary to what I have said, but they do not own the term "Christian" here in America.
I was motivated to write this after reading a quote this morning by Dorthy Soelle on Catholicanarchy. Her definition of Christianity would probably not be favorably received in many church circles.
“In a theological perspective it is evident that the content of this fascist religion [right wing Christianity] contradicts the message of the Jewish-Christian tradition. The God of the prophets did not preach the nation-state, but community between strangers and natives. The apostle Paul did not base the justification of sinners on the Protestant work ethic, but on grace, which appears for young and old, for diligent and for lazy people! And Jesus did not make the family the central value of human life, but the solidarity of those deprived of their rights. The most important norms of the Moral Majority are not contained in Christian faith, as we can see from the many critical remarks against the family that appear in the gospels. It is characteristic of Christofascism that it cuts off all the roots that Christianity has in the Old Testament, in the Jewish Bible. No word about justice, no mention of the poor, whom God comes to aid, very little about guilt and suffering. No hope for the messianic reign. Hope is completely individualized and reduced to personal success. Jesus, cut loose from the Old Testament, becomes a sentimental figure. The empty repetition of his name works like a drug: it changes nothing and nobody. Therefore, since not everybody can be successful, beautiful, male, and rich, there have to be hate objects who can take the disappointment on themselves. Jesus, who suffered hunger and poverty, who practiced solidarity with the oppressed, has nothing to do with this religion.
“At a mass meeting a thousand voices shouted: ‘I love Jesus’ and ‘I love America’—it was impossible to distinguish the two. This kind of religion knows the cross only as a magical symbol of what he has done for us, not as the sign of the poor man who was tortured to death as a political criminal, like thousands today who stand up for his truth in El Salvador. This is a God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross—what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty.”