Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, Just Some Thoughts from Church Today

I have so many things to think about after church today that I feel like I may burst.

I feel more and more like an outsider looking in, that I am now too aware of the modus operandi of the language used, the assumptions, and the general way things are done.

1) Are you aware of the term "othering?" It is used in the world of literary criticism and it refers to the way we tend to label ourselves as one group, and everyone else as "other." An example would be the European races and black, or European and Asian. The blacks and Asians in these cases would be "others." We see it in politics all the time - Republicans tend to "other" Democrats and vice versa. Well, I noticed it blatantly in church today. Bring those "dirty fish" into the church and "we" will clean "them" up. Ask God to show you what areas those "others" need prayer for, and surprise them with your insight. This is what has bothered me for a long time - the thought that "we" Christians know so much better than those "others" how to love, how to pray, and generally how to run their lives.

2) The belief that "I" will be held responsible for others' salvation. In Ezekiel 33:7-9, God tells Ezekiel that if he doesn't warn his people of their bad behavior, their blood will be on his head. Also, if he does warn them and they don't repent, they are not responsible. Well, this was fine for Ezekiel under the Old Covenant, I suppose, with Old Covenant Israel, which has been wiped off the map now. But salvation is God's problem, not mine. The implication here is that we are indeed saved by works, if I am to be held responsible for others' salvation. Is it grace, or works? One or the other? Look, I don't need that responsibility. "My yoke is easy and my burden is light," indeed. That doesn't sound like a light burden to me, carrying the weight of everyone else's salvation.

3) Another assumption from the pulpit that recent world events indicate we are living in "the last days," as if no other view is possible. We have such a short view of history. Our times are nothing compared to centuries of history past. The tsunami last year, the hurricanes, the war, even Israel becoming a nation, may not (and I believe personally that they do not) have any meaning relative to the "last days." As a Preterist, I believe all (or most) of prophecy has been fulfilled in Christ. I do not believe we are living in the "last days." Do I ever hear this view even hinted at as a possibility? No. I would probably be labeled a heretic in American Evangelical circles, because these people are not aware of the short (less than 200 year) history of dispensationalism, and the rich history of preterism in the church. Christians don't read, they are not informed for the most part. It's all "God told me" or "God showed me" this or that. Always relying on emotions, discounting the intellect.

4) This is largely a game, this church thing. There are roles to be played, there is expected behavior, and there is no room for questioning why we believe what we say we believe. I am seeking intellectual discussion; I don't need weepy-sounding prayers and emotional appeals. I need to be challenged to think. Where can one enter into a real discourse in the church?

Well, that's it for now. I don't think I have much of a future in the Evangelical church world.