Today I wish to direct your attention to a post by Rachel Held Evans entitled “On “Outgrowing” American Christianity“.
There is a proliferation of stories out there of people who claim to have “outgrown” church or religion or American Christianity. RHE’s jumping-off point is one such story which made the rounds of the blogosphere not too long ago. While there is much in American Christianity that can and should be outgrown, especially in conservative evangelicalism, the reality is that one cannot simply outgrow American Christianity. It is part of who you are if you are a Christian in America, and you cannot simply opt out of it. You are part of it and you always will be, whether you like it or not.
Let’s be real, folks: If you’re reading the Bible, you’re interpreting it. If you identify as a Christian, you’re part of a religion. If you’re an American citizen living in America, you can deliberately surround yourself with global perspectives (a good idea!) but you can’t just opt out of American Christianity. It’s far better to acknowledge the fact that our contexts, privileges, affiliations, and blind spots affect our worldview than it is to announce we’ve managed to finally overcome or outgrown them. I find it odd that so many who claim to have a postmodern view of Christianity seem so entrenched in modern, Enlightenment-based ideas of objectivity and progress.
…The truth is, I am a Christian, which means I am religious. And I am an American, which means my Christianity is affected by privilege, by Western philosophy, by 17th century Puritanism, and by Psalty the Singing Songbook. My American Christian heritage includes both Martin Luther King Jr. and the white segregationists who opposed him – a reality that is both empowering and uncomfortable, but one I can’t escape, one I want to look squarely in the eyes.
Loving the Church means both critiquing it and celebrating it. We don’t have to choose between those two things. But those of us who remain Christian cannot imagine ourselves to be so far above the Church – including the American Church – that we are not a part of it.