Saturday, December 30, 2006

What an ex-Muslim says about his evangelical faith

Rob Asghar, over at The Great American Faith, has written a piece I wish I'd written. He speaks directly, without rancor, but with clarity and concern about the corner of faith I inhabited for twenty years.
In the wake of 9/11, unexamined American triumphalism has done much to convince me that, while a bunch of people claim to have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, the processes of change that I once saw as supernatural were merely natural, relating to how the human mind works.

I was first attracted to the teachings of Jesus as a teenager when the movie “Gandhi” touched on his “turn the other cheek” teaching. Christ seemed to stand the order of things on its head. This was radical and it seemed right. The rest of humanity struggled to fight selfishly and fearfully for their real or perceived rights, while Jesus was focused on something higher.

After 9/11, the evangelical church was the most enthusiastically pro-war bloc of all; this came as a special jolt to someone who had preached to his family that evangelicalism represented something different from other faiths. It was a jolt to see fellow congregants rationalize away any of the New Testament’s clear teaching on cheek-turning, and to do so with passion and zest. A few faithful evangelicals maintained that Christ’s teaching should restrain warfare, but they were theological liberals, not evangelicals. This raised a conundrum: the evangelicals are the ones who speak most dramatically of how true faith in Christ regenerates a person away from worldly concerns, and yet they seemed the most worldly of anyone.

Read more here.


Kansas Bob said...

Not sure how evangelicals became Bushbots? So sad when faith is influenced by nationalism.

Ampersand said...

Powerfully honest.

SusansPlace said...

His words are true. The sad thing, imo, is that their is no other way for an evangelical to be. In order to "go into all the world and preach the gospel", as well as "rescue the perishing" they must believe their way is the only way. Once that is believed, then one is unloving, irresponsible, etc..etc...if they do not proclaim the evangelical truth.


Dave said...

Bob, are you really surprised by the "Bushbot" thing? I became a Christian in 1983, through an unusual chain of circumstances that really had nothing to do with social conservatism, but once I began to assimilate to the evangelical subculture, it was hard for me to distinguish the difference between Reagan-style Republicanism and mainstream Protestant Christianity. With my SF Bay Area and punk rock background, this chafed against some of the sensibilities I developed in my late teens, but for many years I figured the problem was on my end, that I was just not sufficiently yielded to what God expected from his followers and the normal social order of things.

After a decade or so of that struggle, I eventually discovered other ways of being Christian but it remained quite apparent to me that if anything, the evangelical movement was becoming more purist and strategically targeted in its promotion of political ideology.

My bitter memories of watching this country march to war in the winter of 2002/03 despite many efforts to urge caution and a better way have seriously disrupted my ability to give institutional evangelicalism much credibility or benefit of the doubt. In the early part of this century, I think I had a more magnanimous view of the situation, but watching prominent Christian leaders consistently, over and over again, push violence and aggression puts a lot of strain on the relationship.

I have yet to see many significant signs of humility or repentance from the fools who propped up the President's vain ambitions. Indeed, they continue to pursue similar brands of folly. It's really quite a shame to think about how wrong the church has become in its efforts to present Jesus to the world.

Rob Asghar said...

Thanks for posting it, Julie! And Dave, I think your story is really interesting and powerful. It's a hard thing to figure out where "the Spirit" and where "raw humanity" converge and diverge.

Rob A.

Kansas Bob said...

Guess surprise isn't the word Dave ... maybe disappointment is a better word. I echo what you said about the need for humility and repentance.