The Evangelical Castle

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The layers of bricks continue to be added onto the towering walls that surround the evangelical castle.

Constantine’s soldiers of The Church Militant and Triumphant stand guard.

Long ago the gates were shut to any outsider. Now, as the dissenters are routinely banished, the castle will soon be desolate.

———-

Michael Gungor (Front man and namesake of the band, Gungor) announced on Twitter that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary had cancelled an event with his new project, The Liturgists, four days before the show.

Why?

In the blog he wrote:

“I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago. I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up. I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Clause or to not believe in gravity. But I have a choice on what to do with these unbeliefs. I could either throw out those stories as lies, or I could try to find some value in them as stories. But this is what happens…

If you try to find some value in them as stories, there will be some people that say that you aren’t a Christian anymore because you don’t believe the Bible is true or “authoritative”. Even if you try to argue that you think there is a truth to the stories, just not in an historical sense; that doesn’t matter. To some people, you denying the “truth” of a 6,000 year old earth with naked people in a garden eating an apple being responsible for the death of dinosaurs is the same thing as you nailing Jesus to the cross. You become part of ‘them’. The deniers of God’s Word.”[sic]

He goes on to explain how harmful it is to label others and alienate them due to their differing beliefs, because our beliefs are not what define us as followers of Christ. Rather, it is our faith, which is revealed in loving actions.

Oh, the irony.

Then I realized that this hit a little too close to home for me. I couldn’t help but notice that I’ve been saying the same stuff.

I don’t read Genesis literally. I don’t believe in a young earth. I also find it unacceptable to challenge a person’s faith on the basis of interpretive differences.

For a couple years now the questions have been lurking in the back of my mind:

What will they say when they find out what I believe? What happens when I ask the questions no one is allowed to ask? Even worse, what happens if I find different answers to these questions?

The truth is: I know what will happen.

The same thing that happened to…

Clark Pinnock and John Sanders for their Open Theism.
Robert Gundry for redefining inerrancy.
Peter Enns for rejecting inerrancy.
Rob Bell for his different view of Hell.
Rachel Held Evans for just about everything she’s ever written.
Donald Miller for his ecclesiastical differences.
And now, Michael Gungor for his unbelief in literalistic interpretations.

Etcetra, etcetra…

Evangelical leaders—and by extension, many of their followers—bid them all “farewell.”

I’m smart enough to know it’s coming and naïve enough to hope it doesn’t.

Sure, I think the evangelical system is corrupt and needs to be drastically changed. I want to destroy the walls. Heck, I want to destroy the castle itself. I want to depose the Constantinian ideals of the church-run-state. I want to dismantle the theological military and turn its swords into plowshares.

Even so, I think the people are essential. Evangelicals are people of conviction (even if sometimes stubbornness). They are people who work together (even if sometimes to the exclusion of others). They are people of the gospel (even if sometimes an incomplete gospel).

For all of their our faults, this is where I’d like to remain.

I’d like to hang around and push the envelope—to make a ruckus and challenge my evangelical brothers and sisters. I’d like to have them do the same for me.

But, alas, the odds are stacked against me. It’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for an Open Theist, Old Earth Creationist, Partial-preterist, Anabaptist, nonpartisan, Egalitarian, Feminist to remain an Evangelical.

So, if I’m kicked out of the fold I won’t fight back…because I’m also a pacifist.

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6 responses to “The Evangelical Castle

  1. Interesting artlcle Tylor. You could’ve added Steve Chalke / Vicky Beeching and others on homosexuality too!

    …but if Christianity (or any religion) does not inform us on such things as morality, cosmology and the origins of all things what knowledge does it offer? If certainty about these things is not the core, what is?

  2. Pingback: Linking You Up. You’re Welcome. | The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors·

  3. We have a really dysfunctional relationship with Evangelicals. We allow them to set the terms of the conversation and have this strong attachment to getting their approval or at least their acceptance. Basically they have positioned themselves as keepers of the game. The only way out of this dysfunctional symbiotic relationship is to just stop playing the game.

    Stop writing with what they are going to say in mind and just explore your faith. It’s a big, wide world out there. There’s an audience for what you have to say. Don’t allow yourself to get pulled into the latest controversy or spend your time examining and explaining other people’s errors. It gives them outsized influence to continually engage with them. Instead build influence of your own by finding your own unique way to share your faith.

    At this point, we’re being held back by having these same old discussions. If we’re continually explaining why you’re right and they aren’t so much, then you can explore the implications of what you believe. It keeps you from discovering the deep truths that lie along this path you’ve chosen. People are waiting to hear what it looks like and what you’ve learned along the way. Not just in why you picked the path, yes?

  4. Pingback: 6 People Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism (Or, A Lesson In Consistency) | Tylor Standley·

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