Is God Saying Something To Us Right Now?

Several weeks back I opined that we as evangelicals are deathly afraid of the possibility that God might be better than we think.  So many of our most deeply cherished theological constructs are based upon God as the absolute worst possible version of Himself.  As a test case, Coronavirus has shown this to be true.  In spades.

Actually seen on social media this past week:

I have seen this picture with the highlighted verse out of 2 Chronicles floating around Facebook in a couple of different contexts lately.  You have probably seen it too.  The one I wish to draw your attention to was a poster who shall remain anonymous, who opined thusly:  “The minister in me cannot ignore this Scripture. God allows trials to come our way to get our relationship back in tune with Him in order to keep us from eternal calamity. Evidently, we need to pay attention for He knows what is ahead.”

Let me repeat that once again so it can sink in:  “God allows trials to come our way to get our relationship back in tune with Him in order to keep us from eternal calamity.”

FBC Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, one of the most vociferous and well-liked Donald Trump supporters on the planet, concurs.  He preached a sermon entitled “Is the Coronavirus a Judgment From God?” in which he stated, “All natural disasters can ultimately be traced to sin.”

But lest you think this is strictly an evangelical phenomenon, we find that it is not.  Catholic historian and author Dr. Roberto de Mattei appears in an article on LifeSite News, in which he calls the coronavirus a “scourge from God”.  De Mattei looks at the virus as an economist, a historian, and a theologian of history.  As an economist, he states that the world economy simply cannot handle the unique disruptions caused by the coronavirus and will inevitably go to shit, taking government and all the rest of human society down with it, and thereby sounding the death knell of globalization.  (Globalization is a liberal modernist construct; as a conservative Catholic pundit, de Mattei is not a fan.)  As a historian, he likens the virus to the Spanish Flu of 1918 and, looking back even further, to the Black Death of the 14th century which reduced Europe’s population by a third.  As a theologian of history, he opines that it is the Church’s role to judge history but in our modern age we have reversed that and instead see history as judging the Church.  He sees coronavirus as God’s judgment against the Church for allowing itself to become captive to the lies of modernity.  He quotes St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444), who declared thusly:  “There are three scourges with which God chastises:  war, plague, and famine.”  He concurs, stating:

The theology of history tells us that God rewards and punishes not only men but also collectivities and social groups: families, nations, civilizations. But while men have their reward or chastisement, sometimes on earth but always in heaven, nations, which do not have an eternal life, are punished or rewarded only on earth.

God is righteous and rewarding and gives to each what is his due: he not only chastises individual persons but he also sends tribulations to families, cities, and nations for the sins which they commit.

God is the author of nature with its forces and its laws, and he has the power to arrange the mechanism of the forces and laws of nature in such a way as to produce a phenomenon according to the needs of his justice or his mercy.

He ends by noting the spiritual dimension in all of this:  Due to coronavirus, all the churches in Italy, all the way up to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, are closed for the foreseeable future.  We are approaching Holy Week and the Easter season, the climax of the Church’s liturgical year, and the Church, which ought to be a light for all peoples, has gone dark.  For those who hold to the Catholic way of looking at things, the significance is inescapable.  He even goes so far as to chastise bishops who do not hold to his view of things and, in effect, accuse them of gross pastoral misconduct.  (He is not a fan of Pope Francis, but you probably figured that out already.)  Citing a vision of St. John Bosco in 1870:  “You, O priests, why do you not run to weep between the vestibule and the altar, begging for the end of the scourges? Why do you not take up the shield of faith and go over the roofs, in the houses, in the streets, in the piazzas, in every inaccessible place, to carry the seed of my word. Do you not know that this is the terrible two-edged sword that strikes down my enemies and that breaks the wrath of God and men?”

Over at Maclean’s, Michael Coren offers a dissenting view:

At a more serious or theological level, this is a reductive and banal spirituality that may satisfy the zealot but is dangerously crass and in fact profoundly ungodly. It depicts a genocidal God, sufficiently cruel to hurt indiscriminately, and too indifferent or impotent to be able to punish only those who have genuinely caused harm. It’s all the product of an ancient, fearful belief system that has nothing to do with the gentle Jewish rabbi of the 1st century who called for love and forgiveness, and so distant and different from the Gospel calls of Jesus to turn the other cheek, embrace our enemies, reach out to the most rejected and marginalized, and work for justice and peace.

If God is speaking to us in all of this, perhaps it is to say that this is our time to step up and be the people of God?  To love our neighbors, make sacrificial choices to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities, pray for wisdom for government officials and those on the frontlines of our medical system, and generally proclaim the good news of Jesus to a watching world – a Jesus who has compassion on the sick and binds up the brokenhearted – as opposed to a message of divine judgment?

Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus is God’s final and greatest word to us.  John 1 tells us that the previously unseen God is now seen in Jesus.  “War, plague and famine” are not harsh words from God to us but instead the groanings of a broken creation yearning to be put right.

Yet there are those among us who reject that view of God.  All evil in our world ultimately traces back to the work of God to punish sin, individually, corporately, and ultimately tracing back to that awful day in the garden of Eden when our ancestors ate the forbidden fruit.  God is up in Heaven, watching all of this go down, listening to our cries and pleas for mercy, and saying “Tough shit motherfuckers, you shouldn’t have eaten that forbidden fruit.”  Those who don’t hold to that way of looking at things are in effect atheists who disguise their hatred for God as hatred for those who proclaim this view of God.

To which I say:  If that is all God is, then that God deserves atheists.  If, when I show the kind of sacrificial love for others that this crisis demands of me, I am proving myself better than the God who put us in this mess in the first place because of original sin and total depravity, then that God has lost me.

Allow me to close with this.  This is a U2 song which was very poignant for me during a season much like the one we are in now, a time when my panic meter was at an all-time high (and probably yours as well), when our nation was deep in the thick of the post 9/11 war on terror and it seemed that not a day would go by without some awful news from somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan or some other such place.

Sexual Exploitation of Women: It’s Not What You Think

ICYMI:  Last night the NFL put on a concert by Shakira and JLo, with pre- and post-show entertainment provided by the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

Predictably, evangelicals took to social media to criticize the singers for showing a little too much skin during their performance.  (You know who you are.  I’ve seen the Facebook posts.)  Franklin Graham spoke for many of you when he opined that the show “was showing young girls that sexual exploitation of women is okay”.

Okay.  So there is a current in our culture that is increasingly pushing toward the sexualization of women.  That is not news; it has been the case for years if not decades.

Noticeably absent from this discussion is that the same force is just as strongly present in conservative evangelicalism.  Women are just as sexualized in conservative evangelicalism as they are in the secular world.  It just looks different.  In the secular world the drive is for women to please men by making themselves sexually attractive, but in the world of conservative evangelicalism the drive is for women to please men by making themselves sexually unattractive or sexually neutral.  But at the end of the day, women are sexualized and the aim is to please men sexually in one fashion or another.

Would that we could get to a place where women are celebrated and honored for being who they are, and not for whether they are sexually pleasing to men–by showing skin or by not showing it.

Is God Better Than We Think?

I believe evangelicals are deathly afraid of the possibility that maybe God is better than we think.

Consider Rob Bell.  When he published that book a few years back, every prominent leader who was somebody in evangelicalism was lining up to put him on the cross and drive nails into his flesh.  There weren’t enough hammers and nails for the job!

Why did everyone react so viscerally to that book?  Because we’ve convinced ourselves that God is somehow worse.

We are counting on God being worse – because we have so much invested in that.

So many of our most cherished theological assumptions:  total depravity, penal substitutionary atonement, complementarianism, eternal conscious torment, etc. – all arise from the unquestioned assumption that God is worse than we think.

Consider penal substitutionary atonement.  This is all over the place in evangelicalism, and is basically the view that all of humanity is guilty before God, indebted to God, and deserving of eternal punishment.  Jesus paid that debt, so if you believe in Jesus and confess that belief in ways that pass evangelical muster, you are no longer guilty, indebted, deserving of punishment, etc.  You get to go to heaven and be with God when you die.

Now consider the discipline of forgiveness.  Jesus commands us to forgive one another.  Yet within the penal substitutionary atonement scheme of things, God does not forgive us until he has first taken out all his anger on his son.  There must be blood, and God gets his blood.

In essence, we are commanded to be better than God.

When we forgive another without requiring repayment, we are better than God.

How?  Consider this:  I am commanded to forgive individuals who have hurt me in ways that legitimately cost me something.  Yet under the penal substitutionary atonement scheme of things, God cannot and will not forgive me for that incident with the lingerie section of the JC Penney catalog back when I was 17 until he has first killed his son.

I am so over believing that God is worse than me, worse than us, and calling it holy because God is God and he gets to define what love, justice, holiness, etc. look like and we can’t trust our intuition as to what those things look like because of that whole total depravity thing and because his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts and if we can’t understand it then it’s a mystery so just accept it and let it go.

That’s not a mystery.  It’s a copout.

Isaiah 55:8-9 and other such verses that say essentially the same thing are the go-to for any Calvinist who wishes to play the mystery/holiness/God-is-God card.  The verse goes like this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yet that verse, so often used to trumpet the holiness/otherness/mystery of God, is part of a larger context which is often conveniently ignored, which says that God is actually better than we thought, better than we even have a frame of reference for.  Here is the verse in context, starting at the beginning of chapter 55 and going all the way to the end:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

If God is truly worse than we think, as so much of contemporary evangelicalism is invested in him being…

If, when I show mercy, forgiveness, love, justice, or even simple human decency to another human being, I am somehow better than God…

Then I cannot go on.

Virtually every Christian who has ever walked the face of the earth believes that Jesus is like God.  But how many of us believe it the other way around–that God is like Jesus?

The second part of that–namely, that God is like Jesus–is the big idea behind the entire New Testament.

If that is not true, then wouldn’t we be better off to just ditch the whole Jesus thing, go all the way back to second-temple Judaism, and declare this whole Jesus experiment a failure?

Jesus intentionally challenged and replaced that version of God.  The Gospel accounts are riddled with “I and the Father are one”, “I do only the things that please the Father”, “If you have seen me then you have seen the Father”, and other such statements from Jesus to that effect.  You can’t square that with the version of God that so much of evangelicalism seems so heavily invested in.

Let Jesus have a legitimate say here.  Not just as the title sponsor for all this theological/confessional infrastructure which is built upon believing that God is somehow worse than us and calling it holy because his ways are higher than our ways etc.

God’s ways got a whole lot lower when Jesus came to earth.

Let Jesus have a legitimate say.  If you do, I think you will find that God is actually better than we think.

Snapshots of My Post-Evangelical Life: A Greater Presence

Every once in a while we do this around here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion: Pick a topic and keep on talking about it until there is nothing left to say.

If you have been tracking with me on this blog for any length of time, or any of the other blogs where I hang out regularly, you may have heard the term “post-evangelical wilderness”. Despite what you may think, this “post-evangelical wilderness” is not simply some fanciful construct created by young punk bloggers living in their parents’ basements with nothing better to do with their lives than sit around all day in front of their computer screens and write whatever strikes their fancy. This post-evangelical wilderness is a real place inhabited by real people with real stories. These are people who have grown up in evangelicalism or invested a significant season of life in evangelicalism, but who now, for whatever reason, feel seriously out of place in evangelicalism in its current state–people who are, to borrow an oft-used (around here, at least) quote from Rachel Held Evans, “caught between who we once were and who we will be, the ghosts of past certainties gripping at our ankles”.

It occurs to me that some of you may not have any idea what I am talking about when I speak of the “post-evangelical wilderness”.  Toward that end I am offering snapshots of what this looks like on the ground in my world.

There is an old gospel song, of which some of you may have heard, which goes like this:

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

To my African-American friends out there, should any of you find your way to this page:  You crafted this and many other gospel songs as anthems of defiance in the face of a massively unjust and oppressive social/cultural/political order (which still persists to this day, on some level, at least) – as a means of clinging to some shred of hope that the awful things spoken over you and done to you by your oppressors are not the final word on who you are and whose you are.

I get it.  Well, I’m trying to, at any rate.  To whatever extent that is possible for me as a white person.  I may revisit this in greater detail at some point later on.

But the powers-that-be in white suburban American evangelicalism have co-opted this (as they have many other things) and made it say something altogether different.

In our present world, that song is representative of a kind of Christianity that is very world-denying and other-worldly-focused.  This life is seen largely as a grueling but necessary ordeal that is merely practice/rehearsal/preparation for the real deal, which begins after you die.  (Kinda like Alabama football, where the real season begins in the postseason and the regular season is basically just three months of exhibition games to prepare for the postseason.  This year’s Alabama team is seeing the limitations of that approach.)

Of course this approach to Christianity is frequently tied up with certain views of prophecy and the end times.  There is something about the idea of God intervening in history at the end of the age as presented in Revelation and depicted in evangelical culture (Left Behind, or–for those of you out there who are above a certain age–Hal Lindsey) that captivates the imagination.  Many have come and built sizeable followings claiming to know the exact date and/or time of Jesus’ return, such as William Miller in the 19th century or, more recently, Harold Camping.

Of course it is distracting to speculate on how it will go down at the end times.  But there is a larger problem with this other-worldly-focused approach to Christianity.  We in evangelicalism are trained to filter everything through a so-called “eternal” perspective.  All around us in this world is a great symphony, yet we treat it as merely echoes.  Everything is all about the somewhere-else and the not-yet instead of the here and now.  As a consequence, we go through life holding each moment at arm’s length.

God loves the world.  He calls us to love it, to be fully present in it and not treat it as something we are just passing through to get to our heavenly reward.  To take care of the world, its creatures, and one another.  To find value in our daily lives, our work, and in all our relationships.

Our hope is not in some far-off heaven where God lives and to which a few–a very few–of His chosen will escape to be with Him for all eternity while all the rest of creation burns.  Our hope is in a renewed heaven and a renewed earth, to which God will come to dwell with us for all eternity.  Thus we are to immerse ourselves in this world and be fully present in it, living by faith and doing good works that will resonate in this age, and ultimately, for all eternity.

Snapshots of My Post-Evangelical Life: Liminal Space

Every once in a while we do this around here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion:  Pick a topic and keep on talking about it until there is nothing left to say.

If you have been tracking with me on this blog for any length of time, or any of the other blogs where I hang out regularly, you may have heard the term “post-evangelical wilderness”. Despite what you may think, this “post-evangelical wilderness” is not simply some fanciful construct created by young punk bloggers living in their parents’ basements with nothing better to do with their lives than sit around all day in front of their computer screens and write whatever strikes their fancy. This post-evangelical wilderness is a real place inhabited by real people with real stories. These are people who have grown up in evangelicalism or invested a significant season of life in evangelicalism, but who now, for whatever reason, feel seriously out of place in evangelicalism in its current state–people who are, to borrow an oft-used (around here, at least) quote from Rachel Held Evans, “caught between who we once were and who we will be, the ghosts of past certainties gripping at our ankles”.

It occurs to me that some of you may not have any idea what I am talking about when I speak of the “post-evangelical wilderness”, so I am going to offer some snapshots over the coming days/weeks of what this looks like on the ground in my world.

The 2000 movie Cast Away is all about liminal space.

In the closing scenes, the character portrayed by Tom Hanks, of whom some of you may have heard, finds himself at a crossroads with new possibilities for his future life–and perhaps love–before him.  In his prior life he had been a fast-rising executive with a major international corporation, summoned away from his family–on Christmas eve, no less–to assist with solving a problem overseas.  The plane carrying him and his team crashed in the middle of the Pacific and left him stranded on a desert island.  He was the lone survivor.  For four years he survived, utilizing items found in the wreckage of his plane and on the island.  Finally he was rescued and returned home, only to find that his entire world–career, family, relationships–had long since given him up for dead and moved on without him.  There was now no possibility of him going back to his prior life and picking up where he left off.  After taking care of one last item of business from his prior life–returning a now-undeliverable package that he had salvaged from the wreckage of his plane to its sender at a home out in the country–he meets a woman in a pickup who, it is hinted, may offer direction for his life going forward.

“Liminal” comes from the Latin word limen, meaning threshold.  Liminal space, then, is the space between who you once were and who you are becoming.  We are changing, others around us are changing, the world itself is changing.

Some of you may be going through, or emerging from, seasons of life marked by disorientation and disruption resulting from loss:  Loss of job.  Loss of health via illness or injury.  Loss of loved ones via death or divorce.  Loss of opportunity for romantic connection.

Some of you may have seen your prospects move the other way via good fortune:  You got accepted to your dream school.  You got the scholarship.  You got the job.  You got the promotion.  He asked you out.  He proposed.  She said yes.  You’re having a baby.

Some of you are just having to deal with the natural life changes that are part and parcel of growing up and/or growing older, facing new roles and dealing with new realities.  You’re at school and away from home for the first time in your life.  You’re out on your own and having to pay bills now.  The kids have grown up and moved out.  Your body is changing, your metabolism isn’t what it was back when you were in college, gray hair is starting to come in, and you’ve got these new aches and/or pains that won’t go away.

Some of you have seen changes in the world around you, changes in yourself, perhaps both, and are coming to the realization that you just don’t fit in anymore.  Josh Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and now no longer Christian (by his own admission), is a prime example of this.  In the process of working through misgivings he had lately begun to have about his work, he came to a place where he could no longer consider himself a Christian by any of the measures he had used up to that point.  For my own part, I am struggling to hold on to faith despite the immense changes in myself and in the evangelical world around me which lead me to believe that I don’t quite fit in anymore.  I am unsure at this point what I am becoming or what a life of faith will look like for me moving forward.

The ending of Cast Away is a tidy, emotionally satisfying ending, just what one would expect in a Hollywood movie, yet with just enough ambiguity to be at least somewhat believable in real life.  But real life is not like a Hollywood movie.  You can’t count on receiving a sign to foreshadow the way forward.

Herein lies one of the greatest shortcomings of evangelical spirituality.  In the evangelical world, the path of spiritual formation is one-dimensional:  Read your Bible.  Pray.  Attend church regularly.  Get involved and serve.  Share your faith with those around you (the word commonly used in many parts of evangelicalism is “witnessing”).  Pursue personal holiness:  that is, avoid sins and cultivate good habits.  Not that these aren’t good things to be doing in and of themselves–they are–yet this program is typically presented as a one-size-fits-all garment that will stretch to fit anyone of any size and any shape, apply in any imaginable circumstance, and equip one to face any conceivable challenge.

When life’s changes are acknowledged, too often spiritual leaders create the expectation that the Christian life is a journey with recognizable landmarks and that perceptible, measurable progress is to be expected.  This expectation is all over the place in evangelicalism.  Mission statements of many evangelical churches are quite clear in that they expect certain marks and measurements of growth to be evident in the lives of their members.

Real life is not that simple.  I’m sure we all, on some level at least, know better than that.  I wonder how many of us would be honest enough to stand up in our congregations and say something to the effect of “I see myself at a crossroads out in the middle of nowhere, with all roads stretching equally to the horizon, and no signs or landmarks anywhere indicating which is the way forward”?

Allow me to close with a quote from Richard Rohr:

…Where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown.  There alone is our world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence.  That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.  Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…

…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed.  If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.

The Human Element of Faith

Josh Harris is now an atheist.

The author of the 1997 blockbuster I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which exploded off the shelves and launched the purity culture movement in American evangelicalism into high gear (where else but American evangelicalism does a 20-year-old homeschooled kid who had never kissed a girl get instantly recognized as a world-renowned expert on love, sex, and dating?), began to have serious misgivings about the fruit of his work a couple of years back.  This set him on a journey which led to the recent announcement via Instagram that he is no longer a Christian.

The author of a Neo-Calvinist blog entitled “The Chorus in the Chaos” wasted no time whatsoever in channeling his inner John Piper and issuing a “Farewell Joshua Harris“.

This is precisely why the entire Neo-Reformed/Neo-Calvinist stream of Christianity is on my shit list.

Completely and conspicuously absent from this author’s attempt to post-mortem Harris’s departure from the Christian faith is any mention whatsoever of the human element of faith.  People grow and change as they grow up and grow older, have new experiences and learn new things.  No one believes exactly the same things in the same way they did twenty or thirty years ago.  If you do, then I strongly recommend you check your pulse.  Harris is not the same person now that he was back in 1997, he does not believe the same things now that he did then, and his faith simply couldn’t handle the disconnect between who he is now and who he was then, thus his present state of unbelief.

I struggle with the same thing myself–trying desperately to hold on to faith when faced with the profound disconnect between who I am now and who I was back in happier times, so long ago when I was still a young hot-blooded evangelical.  The “Snapshots of My Post-Evangelical Life” series was intended to illustrate my struggles in this regard.

As I have said before in this space, the “post-evangelical wilderness” is not some fanciful construct created by young punk bloggers living in their parents’ basements with nothing better to do with their lives than sit around in front of a computer screen all day and write whatever strikes their fancy. It is a real place, inhabited by real people with real stories. It is a space where we are, to borrow a quote from Rachel Held Evans which I have used before, “caught between who we once were and who we will be, the ghosts of past certainties gripping at our ankles”.

In all probability, Harris did not come lightly to his decision to leave the Christian faith.  This decision, and the journey leading up to it, were in all probability fraught with much grief from the loss of certainties he had held for much of his prior life, finding himself a complete stranger to himself because of all the changes happening inside, and living in that strange space between who he once was and who he is becoming.  When this author responds by issuing cheap soundbites about “how casually [Harris] has thrown away the preciousness of the Gospel”, it does a grave disservice.

Snapshots of My Post-Evangelical Life: Enough

Every once in a while we do this around here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion:  Pick a topic and keep on talking about it until there is nothing left to say.

If you have been tracking with me on this blog for any length of time, or any of the other blogs where I hang out regularly, you may have heard the term “post-evangelical wilderness”. Despite what you may think, this “post-evangelical wilderness” is not simply some fanciful construct created by young punk bloggers living in their parents’ basements with nothing better to do with their lives than sit around all day in front of their computer screens and write whatever strikes their fancy. This post-evangelical wilderness is a real place inhabited by real people with real stories. These are people who have grown up in evangelicalism or invested a significant season of life in evangelicalism, but who now, for whatever reason, feel seriously out of place in evangelicalism in its current state–people who are, to borrow an oft-used (around here, at least) quote from Rachel Held Evans, “caught between who we once were and who we will be, the ghosts of past certainties gripping at our ankles”.

It occurs to me that some of you may not have any idea what I am talking about when I speak of the “post-evangelical wilderness”, so I am going to offer some snapshots over the coming days/weeks of what this looks like on the ground in my world.

To lead off today’s post, we are going to jump into the way-back machine and take it for a joyride.

Those of you who were in and/or around the Passion movement back in the early 00’s probably remember this song.  There are a shit ton of other worship songs which express basically the same idea:  Christ is enough for me, Jesus you are more than enough, …stuff to that effect.

Back in happier times, when I was still a young hot-blooded evangelical, I ate those songs up eagerly.  But these days I’ve turned it around:  Lord, am I enough for you?

Herein lies one of my frustrations with evangelicalism and its emphasis on “getting saved” as the defining moment of one’s spiritual life:  Once you’ve prayed the prayer, signed the card, thrown the stick into the fire at youth camp, or whatever you did, supposedly you’re all good with God and that question becomes a non-starter.  Real life dictates otherwise.

For as often as we say Christ is enough for me, Jesus you are more than enough, etc.,  …when do I get to hear God speak that over me?  When do I get to hear the Lord say to me “You are worthy.  You are enough”?