Today I wish to direct your attention to a couple of posts from around the blogosphere this past week.
First is a post which appeared over at the Desiring God website entitled “Ransomed: He Sets the Prisoner Free” by Elizabeth Wann. This is a piece by a self-confessed indie kid in which she describes how the indie lifestyle led to a certain arrogance and hardness of heart which was not becoming of a good Christian life. This led her into a place of spiritual slavery which became apparent to her when a relationship ended badly.
This piece speaks to one of the standard anxieties of evangelicalism: namely, that being human is simply not good enough for God. Wann was into the indie lifestyle–liking new bands before they became popular, going to indie bars with all her indie friends to listen to indie bands. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with the indie lifestyle per se, but when it comes into contact with the corrupt human heart, the result is an idolatrous devotion to the indie lifestyle.
Since when is this something to be repented of? Since when is the human need and desire for belonging, expressed through a certain musical/lifestyle preference and community with others who share said musical/lifestyle preference, something to be repented of?
John Piper has been on my shit list ever since “Farewell Rob Bell” a couple of years back, and this is one of the primary reasons. In his formulation of Christianity, being human is something to be repented of, in tears and on one’s knees. I cannot and will not accept this.
The next piece I wish to share appeared at internetmonk.com this past week and is entitled “You don’t have to ‘do grief right’“. It is a reflection on how evangelicals are taught to handle grief, with its jumping-off point the story of a nationally known up-and-coming pastor who recently lost his wife in horrific fashion. His response to the loss has led to internet/Fox News conspiracy theories that he was involved in her death. In his statements following her death, which are quoted copiously and linked in the article, the pastor talks at length about God’s purpose in the tragedy.
The takeaway: We don’t know, and can’t know, God’s purpose in events of horrific loss. We don’t know, and can’t know, what God wants to say to others/the church through such events. The experience of losing someone close to you is not something to be “used” or “wasted”.
It is perfectly human to hurt and grieve in the face of horrific loss, to not know any of the answers as to God’s purpose in said loss, to not have positive feelings to balance out the negative, in short, to not be in control of the grieving process. Yet in the universe of evangelicalism, we imagine that through the right tools and principles applied at the right time and in the right fashion, we can shortcut the grieving process and effect a return to happiness. We imagine that we must remain positive at all times, in all circumstances, to bear a good “witness” to a world that needs to hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. As a result, much that is part of the normal human experience has no place in evangelicalism.
Don’t accept this, people. It is not right.
In both of these pieces, the recurring theme is that being human is not good enough in evangelicalism. Don’t accept this, people. God knows that we are human, and He is okay with it. If your theology does not permit you to accept this, then change your theology.