When I was coming out of high school, I was exposed, for the first time, to a new level of Christian apologetics. There was a concerted effort to educate young people on correct apologetics and their consequences in life. I attended a conference called Summit, a self-proclaimed ‘worldview’ conference. Here I was taught a new way of looking at life through the lens of your beliefs.
At this conference I heard things like this:
“If life originated from evolutionary processes, then death existed before the Fall (5,500 years ago), which means that not only is Genesis untrue, but if no Fall occurred, there would be no need for Jesus, so our entire faith is invalidated.”
“If we permit the legalization of gay marriage, we will be consenting to changing the definition of marriage and resigning that it is not God’s desires that are important, but those of the people.”
“If we allow abortions to be legal, we will be complacent in the murder of infants and we will be reducing the sovereignty of God in our nation.”
“If we allow Islam to spread, the institutions we believe are necessary to spread the gospel will be extinguished.”
The list could go on. This all made so much sense to me at the time. I was so grateful that I could see these ideological threats for what I was told they truly were: assaults on my faith and my God. This philosophy has been a powerful and effective tool for propagating agendas to the brethren. More than anything, the faithful value their faith and to light ideologies as threats to your most valued thing turns out to be a pretty effective way to get people to buy into your perspective.
The church has been in the streets, in the courts, in the senate, and in their church buildings fighting against these ideologies for as long as I can remember. They fight as if their life depends on it. They pick that hill to die on. Not for love, but to alleviate their own insecurities and to feel like they matter.
And so I fought. For years I struggled against anything that undermined my current view of God. What I did not understand at the time, was that by doing this, I went from pursuing God to fighting to be right about Him. The only traits this developed were pride and ignorance. He who believes himself wise is a fool.
We take our understanding of God and fight against anything that challenges that. Our own pastors can’t change our minds. We would rather leave the church and find pastors that agree with our exceeding wisdom. And pastors, in turn, walk the road of total orthodoxy in order to not anger church members.
I would like to offer you, dear reader, believer or not, a chance to free yourself from the brutal, hellish slavery to your own expertise on the subject of God.
As you discover new information and new ideas, let it inform your understanding of God and reality instead of taking it as a challenge to truth.
If I had to teach my own conference like the one I went to, my phrases would look more like this:
“If life originated from evolutionary processes, then Genesis cannot be taken literally, and I can discover something beautiful and poetic about God’s account of creation that I didn’t see before.”
“If legal gay marriage is such a popular social agenda, I can take the opportunity to discover something about people and sexuality that the church hasn’t yet bothered to learn.”
“If abortion is legal, I will have to learn and understand how to care for the marginalized and struggling women in our society instead of relying on the government to carry out my own calling.”
“If Islam spreads, I will have to better understand Muslim culture and theology to better love and dialogue with Muslim people.
In every circumstance here, there is a positive and a negative response. You can either fight your circumstances or use them to better understand the world and God. If there is any reason to think the church is fading from relevance and reality, it is because it has stubbornly fought the circumstances it finds itself in, fighting for its own rightness rather than for the people it was meant to serve. Churches have died on so many hills that they didn’t need.
There is no hill worth dying on besides the hill of Calvary.