I’ve recently been thinking about the idea of Christian Faith as a living, changing thing. In doing so, I stumbled across this quote and was struck by several pieces of it. Read it for yourself real quick.
“I think significant percentages of older Evangelicals are deeply wrong on a wide range of issues – including homosexuality, our spiritual responsibility for the environment, the reality of evolution and climate change, solidarity with the poor, our role regarding peacemaking and war, equality for women, the reality of white privilege and systemic racism, and the legitimacy of torture, to name a few. So homosexuality is only one of a long list of things that I think older white Evangelicals need to rethink. Thankfully, on most if not all of these issues, younger Evangelicals are moving to a more just and wise understanding than their parents and grandparents, just as their parents and grandparents forsook much of the overt racism and anti-Semitism that were much more common among their parents and grandparents.” – Brian McLaren
It’s pretty good. I’ll go one step further; it’s pretty good even if you disagree with him. The reason is because he’s talking about how Christian Faith changes over time and generations.
I’ll be honest; my thoughts are too disjointed to really write a great post, so I’m just going to hit some bullet points.
- Christian Faith changes with time. Yes, this even applies to Reformed Theology and Baptists. Things that were accepted and orthodox before have fallen out of vogue and been replaced by a more nuanced and reality based perspective on Scripture and Faith. Think of slavery. Maybe think of the priesthood of believers. Freaking out because something changes is a proud tradition of the Christian Faith, but so is changing some pretty strongly held beliefs. That’s worth remembering.
- Scholarship matters. So much of what we believe is based on our current understanding of an ancient text written in a different language within a completely different culture. Trying to apply modern western thinking (or old fashioned western thinking for that matter) to such a text is rather ignorant. Ignoring modern research into the culture, language, and literature of the time when the texts were written is willfully ignorant. If our understanding of the text we base our beliefs on develops, then our beliefs will by necessity develop too. This should not scare us.
- In almost every case, those of us who change a belief or position do so BECAUSE we value scripture and God’s authority, not despite it. Disagreeing on what the Bible means is not proof positive that one side doesn’t care about the text. It is only proof that this thing called Faith is hard and complicated. If we didn’t care about what the Bible said we wouldn’t be making our argument from a biblical perspective; we’d just tell people they’re bigoted and hiding behind a book of lies for defense. Some people say that. Those of us who argue for change from the Bible are not those people.
- Those of us preaching/teaching/sharing in favor of change (especially societal and justice based changes) in the church are not doing so because it’s popular. If you’re a person who has ever made this claim, are you even listening to yourself? If we had given up on Christian Faith and left the Church, this claim might possibly, sort of make sense. But for those of us committed to faith and the Church Jesus began, the opposite is true. We’re willing to stand up for what we believe despite how wildly UNPOPULAR those beliefs are. Open your eyes and pay attention.
I know, they’re disjointed thoughts. I did warn you. I think though, if I have a primary point in all this, it’s that change happens and that’s ok. Instead of yelling at each other because things are changing or not changing, let have a real discussion about what this generation of changes should look like and why.