Friday, June 16, 2006

Regarding Apostasy

Ordinary Time
"Of the friends of mine who have abandoned Christian faith, very few of them stopped believing in Christ because of intellectual problems with the Bible or because they were seduced by some other worldview or belief system. Rather, they tend to abandon Christian faith because of the irrelevance, judgmentalism, internal dissension and a lack of compassion they experience within the Christian community. Rather than finding the church to be the community that most deeply encouraged them in their struggles, they lost heart in their discouragement and lost their faith in the process. Rather than experiencing the church as the site of the most profound hospitality, love and acceptance, they felt excluded because of their doubts and struggles."

- from Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, 130.
This resonates with my own experience, of course. This probably happens more than any of us likes to think about, and I suspect that when it doesn't to happen very much, it's because such a large proportion of Christians haven't gone deep enough in the community to make themselves vulnerable to that kind of disappointment. Some people never say a word so they won't have to face the judgment and condemnation of their co-religionists.

So what do we do about this? What kind of people do we determine to be, and what kind of things will we choose to do, to demonstrate to God and anybody listening that this is a serious problem? Will we order or re-order our lives to that end?

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Chris said...

This reminds me of an article I read yesterday:

Anyone who's been in an Evangelical church for any length of time will have done the exercise where you write your worst sins on a piece of paper and then fold it up and physically nail the paper to a cross.

Why not, the author posed, leave the paper open instead of folding it up? Obviously this would be uncomfortable as your deepest darkest secrets would be on display, but his point was that this is how a community really connects and builds bonds - through the sharing of each others' struggles, not through potluck suppers and tea parties...

Heather said...

As you said, this topic resonates deep because of my personal journey and of others'. Two thoughts: one of my greatest experiences of love was when I shared my dirtiest sin secrets (my hands shaking that I could hardly read the "Screwtape Letter" I had written about myself, my heart working so hard I could feel the pounding and hear the blood racing, my voice quibbling). My friends, never looking shocked, never looking on with pity, told me they loved me, held my hand, and even agreed that they share the same struggle (gasp! how could anyone else have such disgusting thoughts!).
My second thought is a quote from Madeleine L'Engle: “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong we are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” (quoted in Herself).

Anonymous said...

Similar circumstances have caused me to lose faith in people, but not Christ - thanks largely to the Eucharist. I have done stretches of life holding on to Christ by the thread of my faith in Christ's presence in the Eucharist, which I have found to be unbreakable even when my faith was hair thin.

To this day my faith in people is very modest, reserved for very few and these people are sinners like me. I believe in the church, the fact that is made up of sinners who cannot be trusted just makes it just that much more of a miracle. But I have decided that we should not trust individual men and women too quickly. To trust a man or woman is a gift to be given to a precious few. I imagine a small handful of large gold coins I will give to a precious few, Christ, my wife ... my children, my mom (my dad's deceased)... I cannot think of too many more. Been burned too often.

Stephen Lawson said...


if me and my teammates went down to Oxford for a day, would you want to meet up for a drink or something? would you even be there?

I hope all is well with you.


Kyle said...

I leave this upcoming Tuesday morning. If you guys came down Sunday (tomorrow!) or Monday, I could do it.


Anonymous said...

great post

Kyle said...

Chris, the reason that couldn't be done straight up is the absence of a context of committment. When you have that context, however, one can. And maybe should...?

Thanks, Heather. Well said.

Tom, that's hardcore. I do try to keep a bit of faith in what I must believe that Jesus is doing in us to make us more faithful, to him and one another.

Anonymous said...

I love people, just trust very few. Look what we did to Jesus - I am capable of that. I realize God's grace is active in me to stay the course...but still.

Kyle said...