Today, I respectfully submit my intentions to resign my membership as an “evangelical.” It has been a decision long in the making, but I can no longer in good conscience consider myself a member. It isn’t that I hate evangelicalism. It isn’t that I reject everything that evangelicalism has stood for. I can say that I uphold many of the values that evangelicalism has been purported to hold to. It’s just that I can no longer be a part of the direction evangelicalism is going.
You see, for me, my understanding about being an evangelical was that it was a commitment to live my life according to the will of God made known in Jesus and through the Spirit that is expressed in and through the Scriptures. I hear in God’s Word a call to be distinct from the surrounding culture while embracing a love for the people. In the Gospel, I hear a call to action that
I had hoped my heart could continue to be joined with you in the continuing mission, but I came to the realization that it can’t. You see, I
And I can get why. Progressives and liberals have engaged in and celebrated many practices that we would consider inconsistent with what we trust to be God’s will for His people. You were scared as the family-friendly society you were accustomed to was being, or at least that you wanted to live in, has been undone with every election of a Democrat and multiple court cases.
But here is the difference between you and me. People who don’t live like me, who don’t believe as
Allow me to diagnose the problem: you thought you understand and knew what Jesus wanted because you read the Bible and treated it with veneration as the infallible Word of God. But even the devil knew and quoted Scripture as he tempted Jesus to use and seek power for Himself. That wily old serpent was aware of God’s command to not eat of the tree as he
The Pharisees searched the Scriptures, but they were searching for something other than God: they were searching something for themselves, eternal life. They wanted a blessed life because of the threatening Roman power that always loomed on their horizon. That is why that didn’t come to Jesus: they were looking for the wrong thing. And what is it that Jesus later said of these same people? As they insisted they were truly God’s people because they were children of Abraham, Jesus said, “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do what your father’s desires.”
Now you might say: “But we have faith in Jesus.” Of course, didn’t James say even the demons believe, and yet shudder? But “God gave His only Son so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Read John 2.23-24: did Jesus open Himself up to everyone who thought they believed in him? Coming to Jesus because you read the Bible seeking eternal life makes you more like the Pharisees than you even know.
You see, that John 3.16 you love to quote isn’t saying “Come to Jesus to find eternal life.” It is about the why of God’s purposes and His sending of Christ, not human motivations. God’s purposes and why God does what He does, so that by coming to Jesus we may enjoy eternal life with Him. But you have made it about your own purposes and thus have treated faith as a condition of your security rather than the means by which God transforms us from our fleshly existence into a life being formed by the Spirit. By faith, God leads us to eternal life, that God and people may be reunited in fellowship and love. But many of you evangelicals have only sought the end product.
You will no doubt quote Paul, saying “we are justified by faith.” Indeed, we are. That is the point. God has brought us on a whole new trajectory of life when we place our trust in Him through Jesus, so what is not true of us will become true. But it is Paul who says “to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life.” But you have made faith the condition of your obtaining eternal life, rather than the means by which God brings you into eternal life as you seek after God. In the end, your faith is about what you can possess as a result of your own actions. No wonder, then, that you think you can possess a nation by your own political actions.
So as a physician occasionally has the unfortunate job of making a diagnosis of terminal illness, I feel I have to do the same. Many who considered themselves as representatives of evangelicalism have misunderstood the Scriptures, have misunderstood Paul, have used the Scriptures for their own purposes. And what is the diagnosis: evangelicalism is acting more like they are the people of the devil rather than the people of God.
But as I said, my enemy is not other people; you are not my enemies evangelicals. In fact, there is still much I can say that I share with you, even if there is much I must say no to. Rather my enemies are the deeper, more pervasive powers that bind people. I beg you, leave this behind because you do not realize what is happening.
Allow me to demonstrate: do you not see that as the serpent deceived and ultimately harmed Eve, many of you have deceived women? Many seek to keep them under the curse of being ruled by the male all the while many of them have cried out to the sexual exploitation and abuse they have undergone including in the churches. You might think yourself “Yeah. It is unfortunate. But it happens everywhere.” Indeed! You would be absolutely correct. How wise you are! So, doesn’t that mean the church is acting more like the rest of society; does that not mean you exemplify the deeds of the devil? It is for this reason that the Son of God was revealed to the world: to destroy the devil’s works. If you truly desire God’s will, such abuse would break your heart. And yet, you celebrate a man as your hero who has been accused of such abuse towards women. Lying about a sexual affair was worthy of your contempt, but sexual abuse doesn’t faze you?
Allow me to demonstrate yet again: do you not see that as the devil tempted Jesus to take power for himself, many of you have tempted the Body of Christ to the same? And as the devil offered to give the kingdoms of the world, have you not tempted the Body of Christ to take the nation back? As you use the Scriptures to honor your political hero, as you have repeatedly sought people to win back the nation so that they will inaugurate a vision of American society in accordance to the words of the Scripture, are you not doing the very same thing the devil did?
Do you see it now? The very Scriptures paint a picture of the devil that looks curiously like what I see.
So, I say this in our break up: It’s not me, it’s you. No doubt, like a jilted lover, you will try to convince yourself that I am really the problem, that I am really the faithless one. You might think I am like any of your former, now ‘
You can mail my stuff to my address: Wesleyan orthodoxy. I know that some of you have never trekked to that part of town. I know others who have never been there though you might think you have been. And that there are some who have been there, but you just haven’t realized it. But there are plenty of us who would be glad to point you out in the right direction and remind you where it is if you decide to break your current love-obsession off and try to be friends. I just hope that happens before you get really hurt.