‘Post’ Because of ‘Un’

It is tough being a Christian.  In fact so many are finding the association with that term so unbearable that they are choosing different roads.  Fortunately some of those detours are simply to shed the term “Christian” and pick up the term “post-Christian.”  Some simply have decided to call themselves spiritual and keep the Bible as their primary reference.  Websites like theooze.com give people who no longer feel comfortable with being in a church building a way to interact and have “fellowship” with other believers.

Unfortunately some turn to atheism. 

It is no secret, and in fact it is something that is stated boldly and directly, that many atheists have had much experience within the church.  If you would take the time to read about atheism and what many atheists care about, you will discover that there is much “anti-church” conversation and specific concerns that the church had turned its back on empirical truth for what they would label as unfounded “truth” that is represented when people read the Bible as a scientific proof-text.

Okay, so that it perhaps an extreme example.  Perhaps not so extreme, however, when you consider the perspectives of people in England who are getting certificates that decry their baptism and who are formally leaving their churches because they do not want to be counted among those faith groups and inadvertently inflate their numbers. 

Even more pointed are personal friends who have shared with me that they are so disgusted not only by what so called pastors are saying and doing in the name of Jesus (a recent post for example), but what is happening in their own congregations.  These daily actions and lifestyles that are represented even in local congregations have given many over to consider not being a Christian any more. 

Fortunately those I know personally have enough strong faith and direct experience that they believe has come from God that they are not leaving the faith completely.  It is this “unChristian” behavior that continues to find home in our sanctuaries that are turning our sacred foundations into sludge.

Good news: this is not new.  Look at what Jesus himself warned 2,000 years ago:

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Today I discovered a post by Brian McLaren speaking about this very issue.  His perspective is that he becomes an atheist in situations where people praise our God for destruction of human life and when they beat down groups of people rather than embracing them in love.  The following video is a song that he wrote.  Let it speak to you and move you to consider what is happening to faith and religion in our world today.

I am an atheist when it comes to the violent god of jihad
I am an atheist when it comes to the lord who converts by the sword
I am an atheist when it comes to the mission of politicians using religion as ammunition
But I believe in You, the artist of trees and galaxies
But I believe in You, the poet of oceans and rivers and streams
But I believe in You, the God of compassion who calls us to action
I believe in You
I can’t believe what they believe, but I believe in You
I believe in you, majestic designer of space and time
I believe in you, composer of beauty and music of life
I believe in you, the holy forgiver and wild reconciler
I believe in you
I am an atheist to the gods of the greedy ignoring the needy
I am an atheist to the gods who make others torture and suffer
I am an atheist when it comes to the view of the chosen few, who judge and codemn all who differ from them
I believe in you, mighty in meekness and gentle in power
I believe in you, the word who has spoken good news to the broken
I believe in you, transcending mystery, with us in history
I believe in you

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

11 responses to “‘Post’ Because of ‘Un’

  • morsec0de

    “It is this “unChristian” behavior that continues to find home in our sanctuaries that are turning our sacred foundations into sludge.”

    I think your problem may be that what you call unchristian is quickly becoming what represents Christianity to the non-Christian world.

  • Aaron

    Couldn’t have said it better!

  • Sabio Lantz

    Unfortunately some turn to atheism

    I turned away from saving people. I turned away from ending my prayers in “In Jesus’ Name” and expecting special treatment. I turned away from smug salvation. I turned away from expecting to be able to help make magic happen and breaking the rules of nature.

    I turned to loving on equal terms. I turned to understanding the world, to understanding my common nature with other animals. I began to revel in ordinariness. I expected no magic, I developed patience. I turned to love.

    I didn’t “turn to atheism”, I just happen to be an atheist because I don’t believe in gods or spooks any more. But as above, I believe in lots of other things, I just removed a whole bunch of ideas and have made many fine replacements.

    So “Atheism” is not a sad home for me, it is an epiphenomenon — a consequence of many good changes !

  • Aaron

    Wow! you and I have more in common than you may know! I also have turned away from so much and turned to so much more, yet have continued to find solace in following in the footsteps of Christ. However, it continues to be a struggle to remove Christ from the dastardly thing that is called “Christianity.”

    As always, Sabio, thank you for bringing such excellent perspective!

  • Sabio Lantz

    Indeed, Aaron, it is cool to share much with others. We do have “more in common” than I may know. The question is, “do you believe you have more?”

  • Aaron

    If I am interpreting “more” correctly, then I would have to say that I have no more within me or figured out. Granted I am still struggling for air having been seduced by the tar baby of Christianity, but as I am striving to follow Christ instead of foolish doctrine I can say without reservation that I have nothing on you!

    And I suppose I could ask you the same: do you think you have more?

  • Sabio Lantz

    Then we share mutual ignorance — a beautiful sharing !

  • ExPastorsWife

    When my husband and I were in the process of deconverting, we tried to adopt that tactic of rejecting the distasteful side of God and religion, but we couldn’t get past the conviction that we were just creating a deity in our image by doing such a thing. We read Shane Claiborne’s books around that time too, and while I respect the man greatly for what he does, I just couldn’t help feeling that his God is the sum of the scripture he likes and none of the scripture he dislikes. I know this works for some people, but I just couldn’t find any peace with that. I’m curious where you land on that spectrum, and how you settle that dilemma in your mind. BTW, our atheism had nothing to do with the church or christians, just to clarify.

  • tiffany

    I see you read the book! Did you enjoy it? I loved it!

    As I think you know, I was close to leaving the church, but not God. And I agree.. I turned AWAY from some things, but turned TOWARDS so much more! I rarely refer to myself as a christian because I DO NOT want to be lumped together/associated with what that means today. Heck, I basically said in church that some of them give christians a bad name! (but in a mostly tactful way :)) Interestingly, some of those people sit uncharacteristically quiet during our “Crazy Love” discussion group. I pray that God touches & changes those people… I want us to be an example of what I believe TRUE christianity is.

    Aaron- Have you read Crazy Love by Francis Chan?

  • Aaron

    Yes, I did read it: https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/crazy-obsession/

    I wrote this particular post back in July, and have done a lot of growing and repenting since then. I still agree with what I have written here, but much of my philosophy of how to “do church” and what all this means is so different.

    There still are problems, and they have certainly pained people. My concern with McLaren, especially recently, is that he has completely abandoned orthodoxy, and what he teaches now is only vaguely Christianity. Scary, actually.

    Take a look at this post: https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/broken-by-the-church/ … I think it is much closer to how to redeem the evangelical church.

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