Friday, July 30, 2010

On the Phone with Anne Rice

Hi, Anne?

Hey, yes - this is Tim!

Yeah, I saw on the news today where you're leaving Christianity... I read your quote where you said, "Today I quit being a Christian ... It's simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

Hey, Anne? Can I join you?! (laughter)

I also read where you said, "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

Wow, Anne!

I know you're a practicing Roman Catholic, and not what most evangelicals consider a "born-again Christian" but it seems to me you're not so much ditching your belief in Christ maybe as much as you're tired of us sanctimonious Christians - and yeah, I know I'm one of them - because of the ways we think we're expressing our faith.

Well, what do I mean "born-again Christian?" In the stuff you've said about your faith, you acknowledge that you believe in Jesus Christ the Person, but not Jesus Christ your Savior from sin. Even though a lot of people believe Christ existed and was a good Man, they don't want to recognize their obligation of submission if they acknowledge Him as their Savior and Lord. You know, Anne, you can be both born-again and a Catholic, but you can also be a Catholic without being born-again.

Yes, I know it sounds complicated, and like I'm splitting hairs, but one of the reasons you don't like all of our pontificating - yes, I know it's based on the same root word for the Pontiff, the Pope! - anyway, we pontificate about certain things that Christ says offend Him. Even though we make a lot of mistakes along our pathways of faith, many of us have become convicted that certain issues are non-negotiables.

Birth control? Well Anne, actually, only Catholic priests take a really strong stand against birth control, and they're not even supposed to be having sex anyway! (laughter) Most of us evangelicals also use birth control because we value sexual pleasure more than procreation. We don't see birth control as a part of the feminist movement anymore...

Yes, I know many of us still don't believe a woman should be a pastor over men... or elders... yes, or gay people either... and those convictions are based on scripture that we think is in context with what the entirety of the Bible has to say on those subjects.

Christians are anti-science? Well, Anne... if you're going to believe everything your read in the papers...! I know there's a huge number of evangelicals who desperately claim global warming is a farce, but the science on both sides of the debate - and yes, there is anti-warming science - has yet to be proven. I think a lot of Christians get scared about the economics if the stuff mankind is making and selling also contributes to global warming. We don't appreciate what the Bible means by "rule and subdue the Earth." We don't take seriously our responsibility to treat God's creation as a resource.

Who - who did I vote for? Well, I voted for McCain... yes, I know he was the Republican, but I thought Obama was too liberal, even though he talked about his faith and McCain didn't. You don't have to be a Republican to be a Christian, although I agree, a lot of Christians listen to Rush Limbaugh to much. I'd even guess that many Christians listen to conservative talk radio more than they read their Bibles.

Oh, I know! I don't understand why some Christians are mocking Shirley Sherrod! I don't know why they're supporting that Brietbart character, either. Conservatives mock the liberal media for their biases, yet they ignore how they're being spoon-fed right-wing propaganda. I don't understand why Christians are suckers for that stuff.

Well, I know of a couple of people I believe to be evangelicals who voted for Obama, but not necessarily for his liberal politics. I didn't vote for McCain because he had a squeaky-clean resume, either.

Abortion? Yes, I know most evangelicals are one-issue voters. How do the candidates stand on abortion? That is a valid question, but I'm not a one-issue voter... and yes, I'm anti-abortion and pro-life. I know that's a big feminist issue, but I think if you have a Biblical perspective of the different roles designed for males and females, you don't need to be a feminist; you need to be respectful of everyone. If Christians would set a better example regarding extra-marital sex and caring for orphans, we'd have a more legitimate voice in the abortion debate.

I know Christians don't set a very good example, at least not Christians who are covered in the media. We're all still sinners, we all need grace, and many of us think we're honoring God by standing up for issues we think speak to His character. Yes, a lot of Christians equate capitalism with Godliness, but that's only because a lot of us don't understand the Biblical purpose of wealth. God creates wealth, but a lot of times, we think we do. Even you, Anne, with your wildly successful books and stuff; you wouldn't have any of it if God didn't allow you to.

You've never thought of it that way? Well, what makes you think you're better than the rest of Christianity? Yes, as a group, we are corrupted by infighting, self-centeredness, and hostility, as you claim. But are you so perfect that we should have put up with your faults? I mean, come on, Anne! You write about werewolves and other paranormal stuff that isn't part of the Christian mainstream.

Yes, I know you're part of that hip "I am Second" advertising campaign, but you do realize that isn't Biblical, don't you? I mean, true: we're not first. But, we're not second, either. We're, like, eighth, or eighteenth, or eight hundredth - whatever the number of people in your sphere of influence. Believers are the last... yes, I know it doesn't have the same catchy ring, but that's reality.

I know a lot of us don't know that. YOU didn't know that, otherwise you wouldn't have participated in the "I am Second" campaign! How many other people who claim to be Christians have just as myopic a mindset?

Yes, Anne; if you truly are saved, and you've become tired of all the hype, all of the Republicanization, all of the Christians who claim to be pro-family and then get divorced, all of the bad stuff that believers do: you're like many of us! I want to jump ship sometimes, too! I don't fit in, my blog title is "Outside Looking In!" My life isn't perfect, sin seems to be always taunting me, and I pray and pray for direction but often just don't see it.

But like you said, my faith - and I'm so thankful for this - my faith doesn't rest on the people around me! When I go to church, to Bible study; I'm worshipping and learning as a sinner saved by grace and owing everything to Christ. I do this in the company of other people, but in the presence of God! The difference is that other people look on my sin, too, in disgust - but God sees me through the redemptive lens of his Son, Jesus. I can't peg my sanctification according to what I see in people around me. I need to look to the Author and Perfecter of my faith!

He is first. And we're not second.

Thanks, Anne - I'll pray that the Holy Spirit enables you to see how the blood of our Savior can make all of His people beautiful in God's eyes.

_____
PS - This phone conversation format is not to imply that I know Anne Rice personally.

1 comment:

  1. Don't live in your country but I struggle with church at times all the same. I tend to think it is a club. Then I go read Romans and recognize for the umpteenth time that I need grace more than ever.
    I do worry about Christians worrying themselves silly about the world. Paul wrote his letters to Christians, that should tell us that we have problems all our very own far from trying to preach at the world.
    Let the world do as it will, it is hard enough trying to get this Christianity thing right. Not that we are not to witness to the unsaved, but if our lives are not evidence of what we say we believe then what have we got.

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