Saturday, October 19, 2013

the Pharisees and me

"Dogmatism in Christianity, I think, comes primarily from fear. If we believe we are saved by faith, and we define faith primarily in terms of having the right set of beliefs, then anything that challenges those beliefs must be resisted as evil. Our thinking becomes defensive rather than inquiring, didactic rather than exploratory, closed rather than open. We see our role as the instructors and correctors of others, rather than listeners and learners." -- Wordgazer's Words

I had an infuriating experience a couple of days ago - one that I considered recounting here, but for my own personal calmness of heart, I'm choosing to leave out. In a nutshell, I had an interaction with a few Christians on my campus that led me to feel even less keen on referring to myself as a "Christian" because the term is so closely linked by "non-Christians" with narrow mindedness, judgment, and hypocrisy. When I outwardly and verbally disagreed with much of what these Christians were preaching and how they were preaching it to the public, I was questioned, probed, and accused of having "anger issues" despite the fact that I said unmistakably that I am a follower of Jesus and have been my whole life. I tried to communicate the concept that what they were saying and how they were saying it was only one specific perspective in a sea of different interpretations of doctrine within the Christian community. Rather than feeling loved and accepted by "my own kind" when presenting this perspective, I was the recipient of spewed scripture references and religious jargon, pushing me even further away from the community that I should call "home." I walked away from this experience on Thursday trembling, only to have two of my dearest friends (an Atheist & and self-proclaimed "Pray-er to Chris Farley") embrace me with love and understanding and a beer to take the edge off. One of them said to me later, "Why can't more Christians be like you?"

Lately, I feel less and less inclined to be open with the Christian community about my "liberal" perspective, my open-mindedness, my commitment to learning, my embracing of the gray in a terribly black and white culture. I believe deeply that one should never be won over to a specific faith through fear of what could happen on the other side of eternity. I disagree 1000% with standing on a stool in the midst of a crowd of people, shouting that they all need to turn from their sinful ways. (Kind of reminds me of the Pharisees. They were not Jesus' favorite people.) I guess what upset me about the whole situation was not so much that I felt pushed away, but that I know that people that do not call themselves Christians were also pushed away from the wonderful message (of love and light) that Jesus has to offer because his "representatives" on that campus brought judgmental, fallacy-filled argument to a topic that should be the opposite of those things. When is anyone to be won over in their hearts by that? I call myself a Jesus follower and I'm pushed away. How do we expect anyone that's not been raised in the church to feel drawn in a welcomed? It just doesn't make any sense.

So, I will continue to live and search out my faith surrounded by people that accept and encourage that - who put their arms around me and buy me a beer and tell me that I'm okay when I'm shaking. I'll keep doing what I'm doing even when I feel judged for being curious.

Because I will never have this all figured out. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks for linking to my blog! And I can really relate to your story! If it's any comfort to you, I've found that this kind of dogmatism often follows believing anything passionately, and Christians aren't the only ones. Ever heard a rabid vegan denouncing people who eat meat?