The Problem With Evangelicalism Is Not Evangelism

1262587_332378626908049_1879140176_oI have to admit, I’m a fan of Benjamin Corey. Who is Benjamin Corey? Glad you asked. He writes the “Formerly Fundie” blog on Patheos. Click the link, bookmark the site, spend some time, show Ben some love.

Seriously. Do it now. I’ll wait…

On 14 January 2014, Ben wrote an article in the form of a “Break-up Letter” to Evangelicalism. Titled, “Dear Evangelicalism: I Don’t Think This Relationship Is Going To Work.” it remains one of my top-ten blog posts in the history of the known universe.

The first half of his blog is wonderfully poignant regarding his personal feelings about the Evangelical movement, and is sprinkled with wit and wisdom. It will give you a chuckle, which is a quality that is somewhat lacking in most faith-based bloggers.

The second half is where my split between smiling and nodding my head went from even-keel to mostly and vigorously nodding my head in what would have appeared (if there were anyone watching) as if I were being violently shaken by a massive pair of invisible hands.

Ben gives his reasons why he had decided to split from Evanglicalism, as follows:

  1. I’m tired of the way you view people as objects.
    It’s been my experience that you often see people as objects to be converted instead of people to love, and I just don’t like that. It’s dehumanizing, and I can’t associate with it. In fact, Jesus doesn’t like that either– he once chided religious leaders of his time for their ability to go to great lengths to win a “convert” only to turn them into something that God never intended. First, learn to love people simply because they are PEOPLE, and then all the other stuff will work itself out.
  2. I’m tired of the way you treat women.Call me a heretic, but I think men and women are equal and that God gives individual gifting regardless of gender, and I know you don’t always share the same belief. I had hope you’d come around on this issue, but I’m realizing more and more that we just have irreconcilable differences when it comes to this, and that it’s a non-negotiable for me. I want to encourage women to use their skills, talents and abilities to be whoever God created them as individuals to be, and I just can’t be with someone who won’t support women embracing their full identity. Plus, every time I log onto Twitter you’re doing something to bully female bloggers, and if you treat them that way in public, what does it say about how you treat other women in private? So, until or unless you start treating women like equals at home and at church, it’s over between us.
  3. I’m tired of the way you treat my gay friends.I don’t care if you always believe that being gay is a sin– that’s your prerogative– but I do care how you treat my gay friends and the ways in which you express your beliefs on this issue. I think it is important for you to realize that there are in fact, Christians who are gay. They are people just like you and me who are busy trying to follow Jesus the best they can. However, the way you treat them is having the opposite effect that you claim to want– I think the way you treat them is actually driving them further from the wonderful message of Jesus instead of closer to it. As one of my readers told me yesterday, there is a large gap between Christianity and the LGBT community, and we need people to bridge that gap in loving ways– something you don’t seem interested in doing. So, until your culture is one where my LGBT friends will find a safe place to connect to God, I just can’t claim to be part of you anymore.
  4. I’m sick of your gun obsession.Seriously– have you tried to step back and look at your gun obsession through the eyes of an outsider? You look like a 12 year old collecting video games. I’m tired of it, and I’m quite sure that Jesus is tired of it too. You act like Jesus had a tattoo of the second amendment and sported a mullet, and quite honestly, I can’t be with someone who has that bizarre a view of Jesus. The more you continue this obsession the more you actually participate in a never ending system of violence, and I want nothing to do with that– because Jesus wanted nothing to do with that. I mean really- whenever we’re on the phone you end up talking more about guns than homelessness, which really seems backwards. So, until I see some growth in this area, it’s just not going to work.
  5. I find your insistence that Jesus was a Republican almost unbearable.You do know that there were no such thing as Republicans back then, right? When we first started spending time together, this issue wasn’t a big deal to me but as time goes on, I now see how silly this is. Jesus invites us to follow him, but you seem more concerned with following the platform of the Republican National Committee. I used to think there was a chance you’d grow out of this, or at least embrace that not all of us identify with conservative politics, but now I see I was wrong about that. I don’t know how to be in a relationship with someone who has meshed faith and politics together like a grilled cheese sandwich.
  6. I’ve had it with your obsession with power and control.I need to be completely honest: I’m starting to think you have a power addiction. The next time you hear Mr. Brownstone by Guns n’ Roses, pay attention to the line: “I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it so a little got more and more”, because that’s the way I experience your relationship with power and control. You keep feeding the beast, but the beast keeps getting more hungry. As if the power you already have isn’t enough, now you talk about “taking the country back” which makes me think you’re more concerned with the pursuit of power and control than pursuing the Jesus guy who said “blessed are the meek”. It just feels like we have different goals for the future of this, and that’s not going to enable a healthy, life-long relationship.
  7. I’m tired of arguing over finances.I know that finances become an issue in a lot of relationships, and it did in ours too. I tried to look past this, but I just can’t anymore. Have you even looked at the checking account lately? We’re actually LOADED with dough, but whenever we talk about finances it feels like you’re more interested in building funds than feeding the hungry in the local community. Seriously, are you even aware of the tone you take with me when I bring up “social justice”? Whenever I say those words you get instantly nasty with me and when that happens I don’t even want to be in the same house as you. I just can’t continue sharing my finances with someone who wants to blow so much of it on building campaigns and installing life-size Noah’s Arcs in church sanctuaries. I won’t even bring up how much must have gone into that foolish Creation museum with the cave men riding dinosaurs. You’re free to spend to spend your money however you’d like, but I feel like our financial priorities are too often incompatible.

Ben goes on to point out other, not necessarily lesser, reasons, and touches a bit on what makes or breaks a healthy relationship and “laments” about his dashed hopes of he and Evangelicalism being able to live in peace and mutual respect; hopes dashed due to Evangelicals not open to being “content with diversity of viewpoints in the areas where we don’t see eye to eye” and being “more interested in changing me, than actually knowing me and loving me for who I am.”

Ben finishes up his “Dear John” letter with being tired of “the way you’ve always forced me to the margins and isolated me when I didn’t meet your expectations or asked questions that made you uncomfortable. I’m tired of the way I experience your culture and your tone, especially with people you disagree with. More than anything, I’m tired of the fact that I don’t believe you even care about anything I just told you.”

Ben does leave the door open for a reconciliation, but with the caveats of a cease and desist of bullying women, ditching the guns, apologizing to LGBTs and keeping its hands off the checking accout.

A tall order, and one that shows no signs of being fulfilled. Still, my hat’s off to Ben, for another predictably marvelous piece of prose.

Brilliant, Ben. Just freaking brilliant.

_______________________________________________

benBenjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is currently a Doctor of Missiology student at Fuller Seminary. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his Peruvian Princess, Johanna Grace.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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