I recently finished reading a compelling book by Rob Bell titled Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Afterwards, I lent it to a friend who yesterday told me that she thought it was “dangerous.” I had to know what she meant so I asked. She said it was dangerous because the questions that Bell brought up may cause Christians to question their faith which could result in them turning away.
Bell had a phrase for this kind of thinking: Brickianity. The idea that each tenant of the Christians faith was like a brick in a wall and if we pulled out one brick the whole wall would fall.
I love – absolutely love! – his Brickianity illustration. And I love his conclusion: If that one brick could bring the whole thing down then how strong was the wall anyway? I would add: what is the point of defending a faith that is so indefensible?
Christianity is more than our tenants and beliefs and answers and arguing. It’s more than wolves on TV masquerading as shepherds destroying our flock one by one, donation by donation, false teaching by false teaching. It’s more than 20 million dollar Crystal Cathedrals built by and for the ego of man. It’s more than word of faith, name it-claim it hocus pocus preachers knocking people down with a wave of their arm. It’s more than the insecure pastor at your church that coerced you into coming forward for an altar call. It’s more than know-it-all 19 year old internet-credentialed pastors on the sidewalk preaching doom and gloom. Christianity is more than all of this.
But this is all the world knows of Christianity.
I wonder at what point did our faith turn from helping others and bringing a loving Good News message of inclusion to a know-it-all, numbers driven, mega-church, seeker sensitive, exclusionary, religious-political party?
When did the Queen of Sciences – Theology – abdicate her throne and turn her back on scientific truth?
How did Christianity let the Conservative Right make us their lap dogs?
When did truth become less important to Christians than winning?
I don’t know when it happened but it definitely did. Christianity is a bad word… and it’s our fault.
We set up this us-versus-them mentality. Maybe at one point in history some could argue that we needed this mentality to preserve the truth but I disagree. If early Christians survived the Caesars we can survive evolution, abortion, gay rights, liberals, Muslims and non-believers.
Jesus commanded his disciples (and us) to take the good news from town to town and where it’s accepted give it, where it’s not accepted shrug our shoulders, kick the dust off our sandals and move on.
Seems to me like it’s up to individuals to accept the message or not. It is not up to me!
In a corporate setting we are not allowed to proselytize. (That means I can’t have an altar call in one of my team meetings. Bummer.) Today’s church is so interested in getting prayer into schools and supporting our rights to speak about Jesus anywhere that we miss the point. It’s not what we can’t do that is the issue. It’s what the other people will respond to that is key.
Who wants to be preached to at work? Who wants to be forced to pray at school?
Look at these things from the perspective of the unbelievers (a.k.a. the ones we are trying to share the Good News with): Christians would be outraged over a proposed law that would require our children to kneel towards Mecca – even though they didn’t have to pray; they could just meditate or take a quiet moment – at school. We would bristle at the idea that another religion is forcing themselves on us and our children. No wonder the world is so offended by Christianity! When did we become the new Caesars? After school prayer, 10 commandments at the courthouse and God in the pledge of allegiance? (Why are we supporting a pledge to a nation?!) What next? Jesus’ face on the silver dollar?
Christians have confused Christianity with Americanity. It’s a false religion that destroys our ability to reach the lost, makes us look like truth ignoring buffoons, and gives the Enemy – the real one, not the sinners on this planet – so much ammunition that I am convinced he could go on vacation for 100 years and it wouldn’t get any better for us.
It’s “dangerous” to think that we know it all. It’s “dangerous” to believe that what we see around us is all there is. It’s “dangerous” to think that Christianity is how God intended it. It’s “dangerous” to not ask questions and challenge and grow…and change.
When we see something that needs to change we need to be up to the task. When we know that something we believe is incorrect then we need to adjust our thinking. We need to recognize that we don’t have a full understanding of God, creation or his word. We need to humble ourselves and search for the truth even if the truth is painful for us to hear.
That’s what is “dangerous” about Rob Bells book. If Christianity is worthy it has nothing to fear.
Truth is only ever dangerous to those who hold on to what is false.