Letters from ex-evangelical, ex-fundamentalists, ex-whatever-is-traditional are always popular. In light of the changing culture on marriage, a particularly interesting one was posted on The American Conservative last week. The letter writer begins with a fair statement that sets the tone for the rest of the piece:
My leaving was much more about what the gay rights issues revealed about that faith than it was about the actual issue of gays and their right to marry.
The author then paints a fair representation of a generic, mainstream, Gospel believing church. It was not filled with bitterness like so many other accounts. But that doesn't mean that it was accurate. The writer reveals his opinion about his childhood church with this line:
Instead of an intellectual tradition, it is a church built on emotion. Every sermon is a revival stump speech about the evils of the world and the need for salvation.
I know what some of you are thinking. My church doesn't overemphasize emotion. He couldn't be talking about us. Well, he is. The author goes on clearly to lambast preaching the Bible without the context of 2000 years of church history. He wanted historical theology. He doesn't care how expositional you or your pastor is. He wants more. He wants Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Pope John Paul II, Bavnick, Kuyper, and Barth.
Next time, we will think about what his church could have done differently in reaching. Then we will look at his comments regarding homosexuality and young people. He has a unique perspective that we must consider. Some accurate; some inaccurate. Before then though, we have to come to terms with this 'ex'-Christian.
Let's not mess around here. There are lessons to be learned from the writer's situation, but the Bible is clear here:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
-1 John 2:19
This isn't an issue of backsliding and returning to the Lord later. This individual has repudiated the Gospel and the Word of God. We will see next time that maybe the writer could have been reached with Gospel in a more effective way than their church tried, but don't forget, they needed and still need to be saved. Leaving gospel-believing churches and embracing a modern worldview shouldn't be surprising when they never were saved to begin with.
Too often we have let those who don't believe the Bible set the agenda for the conversation. The Bible reveals how the world really is. The Bible sets the framework. We let those who reject the grace of God and reject Jesus tell us what is wrong with the truth that God has revealed.
The problem is not that the Bible makes an exclusive claim regarding Jesus being the only way to God. The problem is not that the Bible does not endorse a multiple choice approach to interpretation (though to be fair, some passages are harder than others). The problem is not that the Bible is antiquated and out of touch with modern society.
It has always been out of touch with human society, because we are the problem.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.